Friday, December 9, 2011

Return to Heidelberg

Heidelberg is the first European city I ever visited, back during a 1998 whirlwind Chorale tour of Europe.  We visited 5 cities in 16 days, something I would encourage anyone should do...once.  Fascinating, eye-opening...and EXHAUSTING!  In any case, I was excited to return to this charming town, although the experience of a two thirty-somethings booking their own stuff and figuring out their own rail transportation is quite different from being herded with 50 other college students on a tour bus.  This time, I saw Heidelberg more as a real city and not just a idyllic European town.

We got into Heidelberg mid-afternoon and wanted to take advantage of what seemed like would be limited nice weather.  We took off across the Necker River and climbed the hills across from Heidelberg to Philosopher's Way (Philosophenweg).  It's a strenuous walk, rewarded with a beautiful view as you climb the hills.  As we hiked up, I was reminded of the travel journal I kept during that Chorale tour, in which I wrote, "Those philosophers must have been in good shape!"  

Heidelberg from Philosopher's Way

Sun setting on Heidelberg as we walked down
 Schlanegenweg (Snake's Path).
We had a traditional German dinner at Brauhaus Vetter under the recommendation of my friend Brian, and it was delicious!

The next day we visited the Heidelberg Castle.  Parts of it in are in ruins, while parts of it are still intact and open for tours, which we skipped this time around.  We just explored the grounds on a ticket that combined a trip up the Heidelberg funicular with entrance to the castle.

An example of the castle ruins.

Kevin and the castle.

Tracie hanging out of a tower with Heidelberg in the background.

The former "big barrel" for storing wine,
which wasn't quite big enough...

So here is the new, improved, bigger barrel!  See Kevin
on the top?

Included in our admission was entrance to the Apothecary Museum, which essentially showed the development of the pharmacy in Germany.  You can still see remnants of that history today, with real pharmacies ("Apothekes") being separate from what looks more like an American drugstore, and looking very official.  I was most entranced by this scene of a historic apotheke:

Complete with rats and kitties to catch them!
There was also an evening Christmas Market on the castle grounds, which was really lovely.  It probably had more handmade goods than any other market we'd been to.

Castle courtyard at night.
I had flamlachs...salmon staked to a wooden plank
 and cooked over an open flame.  Yum!

And, of course, some gluhwein!
And then...onto Ulm, of course!

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