An escape to Gutenberg Museum

Last year in October, I went to Frankfurt again to attend the book fair but unlike previous years, I spent most of my time at the Malaysia Pavilion doing my things; drawing, introducing my books and talking to potential publishers.

The year before that, I was there for only few hours for few days while the other days were spent travelling around Frankfurt and Köln with my family. I did not make much networking hence the hard work the year after.

After working hard for few days, I guess I needed some sort of an escape to go to places I have not been; therefore decided to tag along with publisher friends to visit Gutenberg Museum on our second last day in Frankfurt. We took a free ride (ride was free as each of us had our Frankfurt Book Fair exhibitior pass) from Frankfurt to Mainz. The view was breathtaking along the 45 minutes ride.


Gutenberg Museum is a heaven for book lovers. It is one of the oldest museums of printing in the world and named after Johann Gutenberg, the inventor of printing using moveable metal type in Western Europe. The collections inside the museum include printing equipment and examples of printed materials from many cultures.

The museum was founded by a group of citizens in 1900, 500 years after Johann Gutenberg’s birth, to honour the inventor and present his technical and artistic achievements to the public at large.

The exhibition in the museums includes the history of Johannes Gutenberg, Gutenberg Bible, Early printings 15th C., Letterpress 16th-18th C., Letterpress 19th-20th C., Paper, History of the manuscript, Book Cover, Children’s Books, Newspaper and Press, Islamic Book Art, Script and printing is East Asia and Gutenberg’s workshop.


Johannes Gutenberg

Little is known about the life of Johann Gutenberg, including his actual year of birth. For example, we do not know if he was married or had children. Even the famous engraved portraits of Gutenberg were made long after his death and are based on the artist’s imagination, not on Gutenberg’s actual appearance.

The few known facts about Gutenberg’s life originate from a handful of legal and financial papers. These papers reveal that he was born Johann Gensfleisch zum Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany and moved to Strasbourg sometime before 1434. Legal records show that he and a partner produced metal hand mirrors used by pilgrims visiting holy sites. His metal-working skills must have been useful to him as he developed a method of making metal type for printing.

Sometime between 1444 and 1448, Gutenberg returned to Mainz and it was likely that he spent this time developing his new printing method, as some scholars believe, that took at least ten years to develop.

Little is known about Gutenberg’s later years, except that he was financially supported by the Archbishop of Mainz and may have lived comfortably until his death in 1468.



Gutenberg Bible

The Gutenberg Bible (also known as the 42-line Bible, the Mazarin Bible or the B42) was the first major book printed in the West using movable type. It marked the start of the “Gutenberg Revolution” and the age of the printed book in the West. Widely praised for its high aesthetic and artistic qualities, the book has an iconic status. Written in Latin, the Gutenberg Bible is an edition of the Vulgate, printed by Johannes Gutenberg, in Mainz, in present-day Germany, in the 1450s. Forty-eight copies, or substantial portions of copies, survive, and they are considered to be among the most valuable books in the world, even though no complete copy has been sold since 1978.

GutenbergBibleGutenberg Bible. Source:

The height of Gutenberg’s art of printing is considered to be the 42-line bible (B42). The 2-volume bible with a total of 1,282 pages was created with the help of 20 staff. The colorful initials and signs were added later by an illuminator and a columnist. Today, 49 copies remain in existence. Of these, two are owned by the Gutenberg museum.

To view more of the The Gutenberg-Bible online, click here.

Early printings 15th C.

earlyprintingThe Gutenberg Museum has a number of major works from the early years of printing on permanent display. Books printed up to 1500 differ in many ways from the books we are familiar with from later years. These early examples have no title page, chapter headings or page numbers. What they do have are pages of beautiful illumination and illustration.

The protagonists of first few decades of the printed book often still clung to the traditional forms of the manuscript. The characteristics of the modern book emerged only gradually through fierce competition among printers, dependent on selling their books to be able to continue business, and through technical innovation in the printing of pictures.


For more information about printing in the 16th-18th C. and 19th-20th C., just follow the linked texts.

And for further reading ,do head to Gutenberg Museum Mainz.

So, basically, photography was not allowed in the museum except for the demonstration and lobby area. My friends and I were just in time for the afternoon daily demonstrations at the basement demonstration workshop and shot some pictures in there.

The daily demonstrations are done all year round at 10 and 11 am and at 12, 2, 3 and 4 pm. The museum is closed on public holidays and Mondays. No prior booking for demonstrations is required. Just turn up in the museum basement at the times mentioned and enjoy the show.

GutenbergMuseumGutenberg’s workshop; one of the museum’s main attractions. Seen here is the replica of Gutenberg’s printing press, rebuilt according 15th- and 16th-century woodcuts.

demogutenbergatMs. Margot Uhrig explaining how the printing was done. Even though we didn’t understand most of the words spoken, we did understand how the printing was done from what we read in the museum.



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Kölner Dom sketch

I really wish I had done this sketch on location but that was impossible because I had my family with me and I wouldn’t want them to be stucked with me at one place for few hours just to wait for me to finish. I opt for drawing from photograph instead. I hope I will be able to draw on location next time when I go solo travel. 🙂

kolnerdomPencil and Prismacolor markers on Daler Rowney sketchbook.

Cologne Cathedral or Kölner Dom, is a renowned monument of Gothic architecture and is a World Heritage Site. Construction of Cologne Cathedral commenced in 1248 and was halted in 1473, leaving it unfinished. Work restarted in the 19th century and was completed, to the original plan, in 1880. It is 144.5 metres (474 ft) long, 86.5 m (284 ft) wide and its towers are approximately 157 m (515 ft) tall. It is Germany’s most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day.


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7 Tips on Planning a Frankfurt Trip with Family (updated)

Frankfurt is a nice place to bring your family on a holiday. Since the long school holiday is just around the corner, I am writing to share the tips on how to plan for your travel. A well-planned trip can allow you save time and cost of travelling in the city as well as place to stay.

These planning steps are based solely on my own experience.

1When to visit – The best times for Frankfurt are late spring to early autumn. The summers tend to be sunny and warm around 25 °C (77° F). Be prepared, however, for very hot summer days around 35° C (95° F) as well as for light rain. The winters can be cold and rainy (usually not lower than -10 °C/14 °F). It rarely snows in Frankfurt itself.

fallwomanAutumn in Frankfurt.

2Flight to Frankfurt – Previously it’ll be easier to take Malaysia Airlines direct flight to Frankfurt. But since MAS ceased flight to Frankfurt on May 29, 2015, you can take Lufthansa direct flight to Frankfurt. Alternatively you can also take KLM with layovers choices in Singapore, Paris or Amsterdam. Or try Cathay Pacific, with layover in Hong Kong. Do a comparison first and see which one is cheapest.

flightSons on MAS flight.

3Place to stayRent a place to stay via Airbnb. Renting a flat is much more cheaper as it is not based on pax as what the hotels in Frankfurt (perhaps in Europe). So many choices to choose from; fully-furnished apartment or house because this type of accommodation offers washing machine and kitchen. These two are the core things we need (in a mother’s perspective) when we travel with family.

AirbnbA comfortable apartment in Offenbach, 30 minutes away from Frankfurt city.

4City mode of transportation. Get Frankfurt Card. The super-saver card includes unlimited use of public transport system within Frankfurt city including Frankfurt Airport. It also offers 50% discount on admission to numerous Frankfurt museums, the Zoological Gardens, Botanical Gardens, Oper Frankfurt, city tours, river cruises, not to mention participating restaurants, cafes and retail stores. You can buy the group ticket (maximum of 5 persons) for €19 (one day) or €28 for 2 days. You can buy the ticket at  Frankfurt Airport, Hotels & Tours (Terminal 1: Arrival Hall B), Welcome Center, Tourist Information Office Frankfurt Am Main Hauptbahnhof and Tourist Information Office Römerberg.


5Get online connection. Get Ortel data plan prepaid card. It is much cheaper to buy local simcard rather than have your phone on roaming. You can get the simcard for €15 and dataplan for €14.90. You canbuy  from phone shops around the city; in our case we got it from a phone shop (operated by Pakistanis) on Kaiserstraße, just across the main station.  They will help you install and register everything on your phone.


6Where to go, what to visit. Being an an internationally diverse city, Frankfurt has many great things to offer; from arts, outdoors, and shopping, to historic buildings and high-rises, here are some of my suggestions:

Römerberg -the old centre of Frankfurt with a number of historic buildings dating to the 14th and 15th century (many of which, unfortunately, were destroyed during World War II and rebuilt afterwards).

Main River – the river that flows through Frankfurt, Germany from Kulmbach to Wiesbaden with a length of 527 km.

Eiserner Steg (Iron bridge) – Frankfurt’s most well-known pedestrian bridge, built in 1869. It is just a minute away from the Römer, and provides great views of the skyline and the Main River.

Historisches Museum – offers a wide collection of the history of the city.

Frankfurt Zoological Garden – a green oasis in the middle of the thriving Main metropolis and it features over 4,500 animals on approximately 13 hectares land.

The Main Tower – the only tower that is open to the public. From the viewing platform at a height of 200 metres, you will have a good view of Frankfurt and the surrounding area. Make sure to go on a clear day to get a nice family photo for your album.

Goethe House and Museum, the birthplace of Germany’s most famous author and poet.

Palmengarten Botanical Gardens – display a range of interesting and beautiful plants. Almost every kind of exotic flora growing around the world.

Zeil shopping mile at hauptwache- where most well-known department store chains are to be found, but also where a host of specialised shops offer an extensive range of goods. There’s Zeilgalerie and Frankfurt Hoch 4. There are also cafes, snack bars and restaurants here.

Hauptwache – one of Frankfurt’s oldest buildings. Hauptwache means “Main Watch”; the building stood as the home of Frankfurt’s military from 1730 until the 19th century. Today the baroque-style building houses a café and stands as one of the few remaining symbols of Frankfurt’s history as a city-state.

7Halal Places to eat – Frankfurt is considered a multicultural city because it is home to people of 180 nationalities. Nearly 25 percent of Frankfurt’s residents are foreign nationals. So looking for Halal food is not a problem at all. We did brought some food from Malaysia but the boys need to eat something also while touring the city because the cold weather made them hungry all the time. Here are some of the restaurants that we went:

Thai Fun, Elbestraße 15, Frankfurt.

Al Rafedain Restaurant, Baseler Straße 15, Frankfurt.

Alim’s Fish Imbiss, Münchener Straße 35, Frankfurt.

Vira Vira Restaurant, Hanauer Landstraße 41, Frankfurt.

Palmen Grill, Klingerstraße 6, Innenstadt, Konstablerwache, Frankfurt.

So there you go. Happy planning and happy holiday!


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Day 6, Part 2 – Köln

The first thing we did when we reached Köln was to pose in front of the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) and take pictures.


Cologne Cathedral or Kölner Dom, is a renowned monument of Gothic architecture and is a World Heritage Site. Construction of Cologne Cathedral commenced in 1248 and was halted in 1473, leaving it unfinished. Work restarted in the 19th century and was completed, to the original plan, in 1880. It is 144.5 metres (474 ft) long, 86.5 m (284 ft) wide and its towers are approximately 157 m (515 ft) tall. It is Germany’s most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day.

After making our rounds around the Dom taking pictures, we went for fish burgers, hot chocolates (for the boys) and coffees (for us parents)! Azmi and Yassin both had two fish burgers each. Imagine how hungry they were. We later made our way to Köln Old Town via the shopping streets. We found Hard Rock Cafe! Bought some stuff for the boys, a pink bracelet for me as well as things that Marzie had asked me to help buy for her husband’s collection.

braceletZwei Euro!

Shopping-StreetsA shopping street full of people.


picknoseHe did this to all the sculptures out there! Funny boy. His hobby is picking his nose, by the way.

We walked about 15 minutes before reaching the Old Town. It is situated along the bank of the Rhine River. Approximately 70 percent of the Old Town had been destroyed during World War II and after the war, narrow alleys and the colourful old houses have been carefully rebuilt. The town urbanists managed to recreate façades and structural designs to reminisce the Middle Ages.


The Heumarkt (“Hay Market”) and the adjoining Alter Markt form the heart of the Old Town. Heumarkt  is one of the biggest squares in the center of Köln. During the middle ages, this was the place where hay for the horses and other commodities were traded.

equestrianstatueEquestrian Statue.

A huge equestrian statue which was inaugurated in 1878 in honor of the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm III dominates the square. However, this statue that was designed by Gustav Blaeser, fell from its base during World War II, and was later melted down. Only the king’s head and the horse’s hindquarters remained. Based on the remains and photographs, the city commissioned artist Raimund Kittl to reproduce the statue. The reproduction was later installed in 1990. Unfortunately, it could not withstand the weather and time and was removed  for re-production in 2007. In 2009, the statue was returned to Heumarkt, hopefully to stay longer this time!

buildings-in-Old-TownBuildings at Heumarkt.

We later went to the opposite Altermarkt, the largest square in Old Town. Walking through the narrow cobble-stoned alleys, we noticed that the place is overflowing with cafés! So vibrant!






While walking, I found one inspiring gallery shop! It belongs to Jan Künster. Mr. Künster sells Originals paintings, Art Prints, Limited Edition Book, Calendar, Greeting Cards, Postcards, t-shirts and many more. Bought some of his stuff. He is the newest on my role model list. I want to open up a gallery like this.

meatkunsterMe standing outside Jan Künster’s Gallery shop.

We later walked further to Rhine River; the river that remains an important transport route in the city. The river also offers cruise tours for visitors to explore the city.

Rhine2Husband and son standing at the Rhine River bank. Hohenzollern Bridge seen at the background.

rhineMe foregrounding Rhine River.

We didn’t take the cruise tour but just walked along the riverbank, while watching Great St. Martins and rows of buildings while watching people.

viewfrombankView of Altermarkt from the bank. The tall building is Great St. Martins.

We later slowly walked back through the Old Town back to the shopping mile and back to Kolner Dom to take few more shots before making our way to the hauptbahnhof. [I have more photos on my Instagram account: It is not private and you can view my photos without having to add me.]

We took a train to Siegen. Upon reaching Siegen, we waited at the platform for our next ride to Frankfurt. We thought there would be a train right away and waited there. It was about 6pm and getting dark. The temperature had dropped to 3°C. I tried to walk forth and back to warm my body but it was too cold for me that I had to hug my son. A man came to us mumbling something in German while pointing out the lobby. We immediate understood what he was trying to convey and walked along with him to the lobby. There we saw that the train scheduled to Frankfurt would only be arriving at 8.20pm!

vendingmachinesAt Siegen station.

Lucky there’s hot drinks, snacks and cup soup vending machines in the lobby, the boys got to eat something to warm their bodies. After two hours of waiting, we finally got on the train to Frankfurt and reached the station about 10pm. We had late dinner there before making our way home to Offenbach.

The temperature even dropped lower as we walked from the train station. It was raining and we walked as fast as we could to reach the apartment and put the heater on full blast.



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Day 6, Part 1 – Frankfurt – Köln

October 12, 2013.

I actually waited for this day because we had bought a family ticket to Köln by train. Guess how much we paid for the family ticket? €44! Can you believe that? Yes, but that was for the slower train, not ICE high-speed train. We checked three days earlier that for a family of 4, ICE fare would cost us €138 but we did not buy because we were afraid that we might want to go somewhere else; Berlin perhaps. Few days later we decided to go to Köln and went to Deutsche Bahn counter to purchase ICE ticket but little did we know that the later we buy, the more we have to pay. It would cost us €368! We were not willing to spend that much so we asked for cheaper ticket. So yes, we bought the €44 ticket. We were not rushing anywhere and I thought it would be nice to capture some photos along the way. I don’t think we would be able to do that if we were to take ICE high-speed train.

DBticketsOur ticket.

Like previous days, we took the train from Offenbach OST to Am Main Hauptbahnhof. We were 10 minutes late and ran as fast as we could to catch the train to Köln. We knew for a fact that the trains in Europe are very punctual. Lucky the train was still there. Perhaps they have a grace period of 30 minutes or so because we waited about 20 minutes in the train before it departed.

train-from-FBfIn the train; still at Frankfurt Am Main Hauptbahnhof.

So, our train route: Bahnhof-Siegen | Siegen -Köln Hbf.  And for my own record, here are the stations that we passed by from Frankfurt Hbf: Galluswarte – Messe – Frankfurt West – F-Eschersheim – F-Frankfurter Berg – F-Berkersheim -BadVibel Sud – Bad Vilbel – Dortelweil – Groß Karben – Okarben – Nieder-Wollstadt – Bruchenbrücken – Bad Nauheim – Ostheim – Butzbach – Kirch-Gons – Langgons – Großen-Linden – Wz-Dutenhofen – Gießen – Wetzlar – Asslar – Werdorf – Ehringshausen – Katzenfurt – Edingen – Sinn – Herborn – Burg Nord – Niederscheld Sud – Dillenburg.

BahnhofWestFrankfurt West.

Bad-VilbelA farmhouse in Bad Vilbel.

Dortelweil - Gross-KarbenSomewhere between Dortelweil and Groß Karben.

OkarbenSomewhere in Okarben.

Bad NauheimA house in Bad Nauheim.


GiessenGießen station.

Giessen2Somewhere between Gießen and Wetzlar.

WetzlarHouses in Wetzlar.

DillenburgDillenburg station.

And Dillenburg was the last stop of the train. Wait! We thought we would be taken straight to Siegen? Well that was not our case. Remember that we were 10 minutes late? We figured that the train that went straight to Siegen had departed on time. The train we took was to Dillenburg. We were a bit panicking but nonetheless, we guessed that we can just take the next train to Siegen.

And so we did. We took another train (more like a bus train; shorter and seatings like a bus) from Siegen to Dillenburg. This was the route: Dillenburg – Sechshelden – Haiger – Rodenbach – Dillbrecht – Rudersdorf (Siegen) – Siegen.

redleavesviewViews along the way.


And from Siegen, we took another train at platform 54 to Köln. These were the stations that we passed by: Eiserfeld – Niederschelden Nord – Niederschelden – Mudersbach – Brachbach – Freusburg Siedlung – Kirchen – Betzdorf – Scheuerfeld – Niederhövels – Wissen – Etzbach – Au – Rosbach – Schladern – Dattenfeld – Herchen – Eitorf – Merten – Blankenberg – Hennef im Siegbogen – Siegburg/Bonn – Troisdorf – Spich – Porz-Wahn – Porz(Rhein) – Köln Steinstraße – Köln Airport-Businesspark – Köln Trimbornstr – Köln Messe – Köln Hbf.

The trains practically stopped at every stations. Took us about 4 hours to reach Köln. OK, that was tiring!  I slept all the way from Siegen to Köln Steinstraße. But I did snap a photo of the train route in the train after I woke up. I gotta keep a record.

Finally, Köln, aku datang!

KolnKöln Hauptbahnhof.

Köln was colder than Frankfurt. 7°C! I was freezing because my jacket was not thick enough. I had my gloves on all the time to keep me warmer. Azmi and his dad seemed ok with the temperature but Yassin was just like me, lucky he got thicker jacket.

End of part 1. Part 2 will be about Köln Old Town. Stay tuned!


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Day 5 – Friday’s prayer at Konstablerwache

October 11, 2013.

It was raining the whole day but since it was Friday, the boys and their dad braved the rain to find a mosque to perform Friday’s prayer. My husband did his homework and found Zakariya Mosque situated at Moroccan Association for Culture and Communication, Albusstraße 18, Konstablerwache, down-town Frankfurt. They took the train from Offenbach OST to reach Konstablerwache station, about 8 stations away.

Zakaria MosqueIt is not really a mosque but big enough to let the nearby Muslim community perform prayers.

Konstablerwache is a central square in the centre of Frankfurt am Main and part of its pedestrian zone. It lies to the east of Hauptwache with both squares linked by the Zeil, the central shopping area of the city.

The name Konstablerwache, (constable watch-house) comes from the period when the building was used as an armoury; the term constable was then used in Frankfurt for a military rank in the artillery. In 1833, it was at the centre of an attempted revolution when revolutionary students attacked and attempted to loot it and the main watch-house (Hauptwache). In contrast to Hauptwache, Konstablerwache was demolished in 1886 and replaced by commercial buildings.


After prayer, the boys were hungry and later went to get halal burger at Palmen Grill, Klingerstraße not far from the community center. Yassin forgot to bring his jacket and his dad had to buy him a new jacket at Rossmannn Drogeriemarkt also on the same street. It is actually a drugstore but they sell quite a lot of stuff including jackets. €15, bolehlah.

And that was it really for Day 5, not much activity. They later went to get me at the Frankfurt Am Main hauptbahnhof and we later went to have dinner at Thai Fun, Elbestraße and later bought ticket to Köln.


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Day 4 – Main Tower/Zeil

While  I was at the book fair, the boys decided to go to Main tower with their dad. They went out in the afternoon because it was heavily raining in the morning.


Main Tower is a 56-storey, 200 m (656 ft) skyscraper in the Innenstadt district of Frankfurt, Germany. If the antenna spire is included, the building stands at 240 m (787 ft). The structure was built between 1996 and 1999, and the tower’s design features what appears to be two connected towers. The smaller of the two is of a cuboid shape and a design common to 1970s architecture. The second and taller of the two towers is a circular tower with an entire blue glass exterior which features the transmission tower on top.

Named after the nearby Main river, the tower has five underground floors and two public viewing platforms. It is the only skyscraper in Frankfurt with a public viewing observatory. It is the 4th tallest building in Frankfurt and the 4th tallest in Germany, tied with Tower 185.

Here are some pictures of my family taken on top of the building:


frankfurtcityazmiyassinstegyassinabahThey went for a late lunch after that and waited for me at the Frankfurt Am Main Hauptbanhof. We later went shopping at Hauptwache and Zeil.


Zeil is a popular shopping mile where most well-known department store chains are to be found, but also where a host of specialised shops offer an extensive range of goods. There’s Zeilgalerie and Frankfurt Hoch 4. There are also cafes, snack bars and restaurants here.

MeatzeilZeilgalerie with a hole behind me.

We were all very tired and decided to go home by taking a train at Hauptwache Station. On  the way there, we were stopped by a ‘policeman’. He was not wearing a uniform at all. He flashed his so-called police ID card (looked more like ID card) very quickly and asked everyone of us to open our wallet and show him our money. I was like ‘oh, are we going to be robbed!’. I was panicking but my husband and sons were very calm. We followed what he wanted us to do; show our wallets. There were not much cash, so he let us go! Before we leave, he shook my husband’s hand and pat his back. Gila. Entah apa-apa. And later he said, ‘”take care.”

Phew! That was very close. I had my own plan in my mind; scream as loud as I could if we got robbed.

It was a mind-boggling experience. We had came across many policemen around town and none, none of them stopped us and asked us to show our wallets. I am sure my family and I had the same thoughts in our heads during our journey back to Offenbach; who was the man? Was he really a policeman? Was he just a crazy man who wanted to be a policeman? Was he a concerned citizen who wants to know if we have enough money in our wallet? Was he a street robber? Was he? Was he?

Braving the temperature of 4°C was enough to freeze our thoughts of what had happened and the questions were soon subsiding. In my head during the walk; heater and nasi impit & sambal ikan bilis. I was very sure the boys too.

neighbourhoodThe neighbourhood of the place we stayed in Offenbach.


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