Heidelberg. The town we never would have went to had we listened to Rick Steve’s. The guy hates it thanks to all the American students, military and tourists the town gets. Normally, I’d be with him. Who needs that? Here’s I’m glad we didn’t listen to him at all.
So, Why Heidelberg?
My friend Christina has led an amazing life working, volunteering, and teaching theatre. Earlier that summer she accepted a position in Stuttgart. Since absolutely no one recommends visiting Stuttgart (Ricky, Christina, or even locals), we made plans to meet up in Heidelberg. Sure, Mr. Steve’s had his objections but our day trips book disagreed. Once we saw the photos Christina took of the city, we had to go.
So off we went. Three train connections later from Rothenberg ob Der Tauber and we were there. And Rick was right. On first impressions, the place was about as foreign to me as Epcot center. We got a taxi and made it to our hotel – a charming place overlooking the Nekar. And very close to the iconic bridge spanning it. Sadly, by that time I had received Christina’s note that she would not be able to join us due to school issues at the very last minute. No matter! After quick shower and discussion with the hotel manager on what to see and do, and we were out exploring.
Heidelberg is immently walkable. We criss-crossed cobblestone streets traversing main venues and alleys. The customary stop at a central square and some great beer and wine provided a great spot for people watching. A trip through Germany necessitates repeated sampling beer and wine! Looming in resplendant dilapidation high on a hill above us sat a castle that I might have imagined in my lego building days. Of course we had to check it out! In short order we had found the lift and made our way up. Instead of describing it, I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
After exploring for an hour or two we descended and head back to the river side. That provided even more people watching as people headed home for dinner. We spent a while snapping photos and watching long cargo ships pass through the locks of the river. While I tremendously enjoyed the atmosphere and ambiance, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the best part wasn’t when a lady stopped to ask me a question… in German!
Later that night in pursuit of dinner we explored the university grounds and the main stretch. The weather was temperate so we enjoyed ourselves, and our beer, outside.
I can understand the concerns Mr Steves had regarding Heidelberg. Normally I try to shun anything looking remotely like a tour bus. However, there were no tour busses. All of the people in Heidelberg visiting were there with purpose. While authentically German they might not have been. But the students – both German and American (and their visiting families) – gave the city a young sort of vibe. Something that certainly wasn’t in the Rothenberg – the touristy city that time forgot. And we would miss that energy begining the next day when we took the train again to Bacharach, another very sleepy town on the Rhine the next day.