Monday, 18 May 2015

Mainz 2015

Back in July 2014 we logged our will attend on the Mainz Mega event, booked our hotel and flights and watched as the 'will attend' logs increased and then as we suspected, in March this year, the Gutenberg-Team announced that the mega event was to be upgraded to a Giga event.  We've been on a few trips to Germany so it was good to be organising another trip and this would be our second Giga Event! The first one being in Munich last August.


I've been so excited waiting for the day to come and this morning we set our alarm clocks for 3.30am - yes you did read that correctly - to enable us to get to Birmingham Airport for our 6.20am Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt.
Nice little cache-mobile

We arrived in Frankfurt at 8:50 CET, picked up our hire car and then set about finding the caches on our to-do list - no time to lose .  After leaving chilly Birmingham it was lovely to walk around in 20 degree sunshine all day, no coats or woolly hats and wearing T-shirts, if only I'd thought to pack shorts.  The cold weather has gone on for so long back home I'd forgotten what the warm weather felt like.
This is much more like it

We enjoyed a couple of lovely long walks around forests finding Wherigos but we made sure to smother ourselves in Skin-so-soft to try and repel the ticks - which are rife on the continent and quite a few of the woodland cache listings have the 'tick' attribute, which always fills me with dread.  So I'm always really cautious when it comes to walking in the forests or in long grass.  We had a tick-check (oo-er) back at the hotel and Mark had managed to pick up a few 'little visitors' but luckily we were able to brush the disgusting things off before they had taken a proper hold - so gross! - no photos you'll be pleased to hear.
Nice little room complete with transparent door to shower

After a long day we finally checked into our hotel in Mainz (the Ibis Budget) - wheesh! Time to prepare for Friday then fall into bed after 21 hours on the go.

I received a text from my daughter wishing us a good holiday - ha ha ha how we laughed, 'holiday'? Did someone mention holiday?  Aren't holidays for relaxing?  This was definitely more of the caching bootcamp type break I have become accustomed too.  But it was thoughtful of her to think of us anyway.


We made another really early start today, luckily breakfast was available from 6.30am so we were out by 7.   There were a couple of other cachers at breakfast, we suspected there'd be a few more tomorrow morning. We spent most of the day playing Wherigos again and also a couple more webcams.

The weather was fabulous, warm and sunny again all day and we spent a lovely relaxing evening in Bensheim.

We stopped off for supplies and enjoyed a fabulous picnic in the sunshine near a vineyard and rounded off the evening playing a Wherigo - what better way to end the day.

Tonight, we feast like kings


Giga Day!

We had made half a plan to go for as many icons today as possible.  We managed 12 in Prague in 2013 but this was before the lab cache icon was introduced and although lab caches aren't included in the 'finds pocket query', they are certainly official Groundspeak caches that go towards the find count so therefore they are proper caches - this means that it would be possible, in theory, to achieve 13 icons today.  So we thought we'd at least give it a try as we'd met quite a few others at the morning CITO who were doing just that.  So we thought we'd and see if we could fit it in and it would be fun to try and aim for this anyway.

So to start us off we headed to a CITO in Urberach which was a 45km drive from our hotel, so we had a very quick breakfast and were out of our hotel by 7.00, arriving at the CITO for 7.40.  We arrived just after it had started and already all the bags and gloves had been given out - normally when we attend CITOs back home we take our own grabbers etc with us but having flown we were travelling light.  So we decided to walk around the area and see what we could find but the area was completely litter free as a few bags had already been collected!
Icon #1 - CITO

Next on the list was a traditional.  We managed to get one of these in the bag very early on in the day whilst we were walking around the CITO area.

We played a Wherigo next, in fact we did two of these in a row.  One was a play anywhere and one a reverse type.  It was quite amusing as when we arrived closer to the location for the reverse Wherigo, there were lots of cars parked and lot of cachers walking with purpose either to or from the woods - there were a couple of elderly gentleman looking puzzled and we tried to explain to them in basic German what everyone was doing - we had to give up in the end but they learnt a new word anyway 'geo-caching' which they kept on repeating as we walked away .
Icon #3 Wherigo

Next on the agenda was an event.  It was basically just turn up in a car park and sign a log book.  We spent some time chatting to other cachers and discovering trackables before heading for our next icon.
Icon # 4 - Event
Next was a virtual at a railway station.  We parked up at the same time as some French cachers so we tagged along with them.  Great fun!

Icon #5 - Virtual

Then onto the GIGA event itself.  The whole of the GIGA event seemed really well organised, even down to the parking and the public transport from the car park.  The cost of the bus was included in the GIGA ticket price. We parked in one of the IBM car parks, which was about a mile from the giga venue and headed to the bus stop, there were other cachers there so we got off the bus when they did.  Finding our way back to the car park wasn't quite so easy and it was difficult to work out which bus you needed to get on, but luckily there were a lot of muggle Germans that were only too happy to help us out.

Icon #7 - Giga Event
The event itself was held mainly indoors so compared to the Munich Giga (which was in an olympic stadium) it did feel a lot more crowded.  Although there were also quite a few activities going on outside, like climbing and segway rides.

We had a great time milling around chatting to cachers from other countries and bumping into quite a few cachers we've met at previous events around Europe.  We met Cache42Bears first of all at the Cataluny Mega Event last year, they came to our Andorra event and we bumped into them again at this morning's CITO and then the main Giga.   It was also good to bump into lots of caching friends we know from the the UK and the IOM.

Our pin in the map

Now you're talkin'
We did a few of the lab caches but to do all of them in one day would've been too time consuming as there were 30 in total, so we decided to leave some for the Sunday.
6th Icon of the day - Lab cache
Next was the Earthcache.  There was a hive of activity at this one.  Luckily another cacher had the necessary specialist equipment and we were able to use this to get one of the answers.
Icon #8 - Earthcache

After yet another kaffee and kuchen stop (it would be rude not to) in Mainz marktplatz then it was back to the Giga venue for the GPS Maze.

We had been to the GPS Maze in Prague and to avoid the crowds there we visited it at 6 in the morning as it was available 24hrs per day there.  We weren't quite so lucky this time and hadn't timed it quite so well, the queue was very long and we had no alternative but to join the queue and wait.  A real pity the opening times were so much shorter this time.
Long queue for the Maze

After nearly 2 hours we're almost inside

Mark nipped out of the queue to chat to some caching friends further along the line and they had already waited nearly 2 hours so we knew we were in for a loooooong wait - and wait we did.... and wait.... and wait ......... and wait until eventually it was our turn.

Icon #9 - GPS Maze

We had planned to go on the segways and some of the other activities but the 2 hours that we'd wasted queuing meant less time for other things and we still had 4 more icons to find and it was already fast approaching 6pm.
Flexi-bus back to the car park

We got back on the bus and headed back to the car so we we could venture off to the nearest webcam.  This was just a few miles away called Rheincam.  I jumped out of the car to sort the link to the webcam while Mark went off to look for a parking space.  There was a hive of activity with cachers coming and going, I heard someone call out my name and it was Amaya Tom and Skippy and Pingu.  It was so much fun with cachers helping each other with the link to the webcam etc.
Icon #10 - Webcam

The plan next was to find a puzzle cache - the route we needed to take was closed and the alternative route on our sat nav kept sending us back the way we came so we had to take a much longer route.  We began to think we would never achieve the 13 icons.  On the way I noticed that we had actually picked a T5 puzzle - arrghh!!  Why did we not notice this before?  On arrival there were some other cachers and they were just putting away their specialist equipment (an extendable ladder) and they asked if we'd like to use it.  Brilliant as without it we would have failed for sure and would've had to find another one.

Icon #11 - Puzzle
Next was the letterbox.  Can you believe yet another road closure, what is it with Mainz and the roadworks??  The closest we could get was 0.25mi away from the letterbox so we parked up and then noticed the car next to us had a TB sticker on it and the occupants pointed which way we needed to go - on the way we met quite a few other cachers on their way back and they all said 'good luck!'  This unnerved us a little and one of them explained that the climb up the bank was extremely steep presumably due to the fact we couldn't take the intended route to GZ.  They weren't wrong it was really steep but luckily there were branches to pull on to help ourselves up - coming down was a bit hairy!
Icon #12 - Letterbox

YAY just one more to go - the end is in sight.  We just hoped it was going to be a simple multi.  We arrived as the light was fading at the listed co-ords to find 2 other cachers doing the sums, so we compared answers and walked off to GZ together - we spent ages looking but couldn't find it, we were just starting to think that after all our efforts we'd fail and luckily one of the cachers managed to lay his hands on the nano and we knew then that we'd done it.  Best of all this was only 0.25 miles from our hotel.
Icon #13 - Multi

13 Icons in one day!

It was really great fun and it was good to have a challenge to focus on for the day.


This was our last day of our break but we had another full day as our flight back to Birmingham wasn't until later tonight and we didn't need to check in until about 9pm.  So another fun-filled day in the sunshine.

'Fox, Chicken, Grain' - Mainz style
We decided to start the day by finishing off the lab caches.  This entailed quite a bit of walking around but was lovely to see some more sights around historic Mainz and it also gave us the opportunity to play the City View of Mainz Wherigo.

50 degrees latitude
In the afternoon we did quite a bit of driving around and played a few more Wherigos and a couple of webcams.

When we arrived at Gustav Eberlein beobachtet Euch webcam there were some people walking towards the exact spot we needed to be, it was Stompy and Stampy, some cachers we know from Cornwall, such a coincidence that we arrived at that spot at exactly the same time!   We had a nice long chat about Wherigos and they mentioned they had just come from the Feldberg-SolSys: Sonne webcam.  It was one that was on our to-do list but we were unsure if we'd have enough time to do it but after chatting to them about it we decided to detour on the way to the airport (via a wherigo) to do it.

We were really glad we did too as it was in a really picturesque place on top of  the Großer Feldberg which is the highest mountain (878 metres) in the Taunus mountains.  There was a hive of activity as we parked up at the summit, it's really popular with motorbikers and cyclists.

Feldberg Taunus Transmitter

That was all we had time for and it was time to head to the airport.  The end of another fun packed break.

We met so many lovely people and the weather was perfect.