Tuesday, September 18 - Heidelberg
Another beautiful looking day, the sun out at 7:30am, blue sky, and cool and dry. It would be 75 and sunny most of the day until late afternoon when the clouds rolled in.
We got under way for Heidelberg at 10. It's a beautiful day for driving. After about an hour Ms Garmin tells us there's some heavy traffic enroute and decides to take us an alternate way. This goes fine until, unknown to her, someone tore up some streets a few days ago and didn't tell her; eventually we drove away from the blocked road enough so that she had to find a new way to take us and that finally got us on track. Besides some wrong turns (too soon or too late turns) we finally got to Heidelberg Castle and found a parking spot not too far down the hilly streets from which we then climbed uphill to get to the castle.
As a side note, we finally got Siegfreid working but all the directions from him are in German so we gave up and stayed with Ms. Garmin.
The castle is in a spectacular setting overlooking the Neckar River. It looms above the town and is a superb example of both Gothic and Renaissance features. It was started in the 14C and added on to by the various counts and kings that ruled Heidelberg. The last king and queen to live in the castle were Frederich V and his British wife, Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of Mary Queen of Scots. They lived there for 5 years, leaving in 1693, never to return as it was the start of the 30 years war. The subsequent bombing by the French, and fire from lightning, destroyed much of the castle. There are still some rooms with furniture from the period as well as walls and facades of some of the palaces to admire. We took an English guided tour of the castle and walked the grounds until around 3:00 then left and headed for our hotel.
Heidelberg is a town of 143,000 people with a large university and big American community as well. It is easy driving around here compared to French and Italian cities. We found our hotel easily, which is on the outskirts of the city center. It is a small hotel owned by "Volker" who spent some time in Arlington, Texas as a 20 something. He is great and speaks excellent English. He offered us a suite and we, of course, said yes. It's more like an apartment, separate bedroom, small kitchenette with microwave and fridge and a large living room area. It's very nice and amazingly inexpensive.
Volker gave us the layout of the town and directed us on where to park and take our walking tour, pointing out that the best views of the castle were in late afternoon from the top of "philosopher's walk" when the sun is hitting the castle. We found parking easy and walked the pedestrian mall to one of the old bridges, then hiked up the hill (another day of 500 steps!) and hiked the trail overlooking the north bank of the river with spectacular views of the old town and castle. Unfortunately, it had started to cloud over by the time we got to the top and didn't have the best photo opportunity of the castle. We continued along the trail and hiked down to the 18C Alte Bridge, stopping for photo opportunities and then making our way to the Markt Platz. Another typically beautiful European square with flowers protruding from every window and cafes with outdoor tables, many occupied by the students that attend the University.
With tired legs we dropped into an outdoor cafe for a nice relaxing meal on the platz. We had just finished our meal and were heading back to the parking garage when it started to sprinkle. We stopped to look at one of the many shops when it started to pour and fortunately for us (and the shop owner), they sold unbrellas. We bought one to get us back to garage without being soaked. The rain didn't last long and by the time we got back to the hotel at 8:00, it had stopped.
Above, two views inside the castle
A 52,000 Gallon cask used to provide for the thirsty castle occupants
View of Old Town and Alte Bridge over the Neckar River
The only street where it is legal
View of castle from 'Philosopher's Walk'
And, before I forget...
Jon had asked where was all the German food? Like Brtawurst and Knockwurst, Spaetzle. So, since I had been posting fewer food pictures, especially fish bones and fish heads and Bunny rabbits cooked in Spaghetti, here's our meal from the 16th, Rumpsteak with Onions for Mike and Weiner Schnitzel with mushroom sauce and pomme frites for Karen. We have had brats and stuff but didn't take any pictures, nor will we be making meals of a lot of brats and dogs.