"" Writer's Wanderings: 18 Days Through Europe in an Audi - Heidelberg, Germany

Thursday, October 21, 2010

18 Days Through Europe in an Audi - Heidelberg, Germany

[Summer, 2004]

Arriving in Heidelberg, we settled into the Best Western Rega which was a short walk from the historic city center. With some guidance from the front desk we found a very old historic German restaurant, the Gueldenes Schaf. And, of course, we had Wiener Schnitzel.

The next day was scheduled to be our laundry day. We were in desperate need of one. The first few days of our trip had been warmer than we expected and we had gone through most of the clean clothes. The first self serve laundry we found was closed for repairs. We were kindly directed a bit farther down the street and around the corner to a smaller one that was extremely busy picking up the business from the closed shop. We found ourselves surrounded mostly by university students but everyone was kind enough to wait a turn and give us help when we needed it. The settings on the washers were a little different than we were used to but everything came out the same size and color that it went in.

The laundry done and stashed back in our rooms, we were free to explore Heidelberg. We began with lunch at an outdoor cafe near the large Church of the Holy Ghost. After all doesn't a tour group march on its stomach...or maybe that was an army...hmm. In the middle of lunch the bells began to peal with a clear deep tone that resonated throughout the city.

Polly and Dick suggested we explore the castle first. We found a bus to take us to the top of the hill where the castle overlooks the city (a new tram was being built). The castle dates back to the 14th century. It is a curious combination of Baroque and Renaissance architecture. Large sections have been destroyed but it's size is still overwhelming. The gardens provide a peaceful place to stroll and look down over the Neckar river to the city below.

After a mid afternoon cappuccino break, we returned to the historic city center and wandered around the Holy Ghost Church. At the base, built between the supporting structures surrounding the church, were numerous souvenir booths. We circled the base and found the entrance to the church and a sign that told us we had just missed an organ concert. Huge columns stood in rows supporting the roof that towered over our heads. The stained glass windows rose up to match the height of the columns and all combined to make you feel very small and insignificant compared to the grandeur they exhibited. As I walked past the columns, they seemed to glide by and for a moment I imagined myself in grand clothes, maybe those of a queen about to receive her crown, walking to the altar for the coronation ceremony. I almost made it but my dreaming was interrupted by the urgent call to move on. There was more to see.

We walked a few blocks to the old bridge that crosses the Neckar river and admired the old bridge gate before starting back in the direction of our hotel to hunt for food. For an unexpected stop, Heidelberg had turned out to be very rewarding. It pays to be flexible.

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