Heidelberg

9 Aug

OK, so you know you’re a nerd when you’re anxious to get ‘home’ from a weekend getaway so you can write about the weekend getaway!  Ha!  But seriously, Heidelberg was that fabulous!  SUCH a beautiful, warm (not in a temperature sense, although that ended up being better than perfect, too!) city.  Check it out on the new ‘Maps’ page- it’s northwest of Stuttgart.  That being said, I’ll go ahead and warn you that this will most definitely be a picture-centric post! 🙂

What better way to start our first excursion than with a courtyard lunch overlooking the river?!  John got two appetithappens (appetizers)- marinated beef strips with mustard sauce and salad greens, and Bavarian Goulash that had grilled sausages over Spatzle (Swabian pasta).  Yes, he was in heaven- that boy loves his meat!  I had the Heidelberg Color Bowl- a ginormous salad of mixed greens, cabbage, grilled chicken, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions with homemade Heidelberg dressing.  YUM!

Perfect outdoor lunch in Old Town

The restaurant sign, which happened to be at the entrance to our hotel of the same name.

After lunch, we checked into our hotel.  We chose one of the smallest hotels in the city- a small Mom-n-Pop place with just 13 rooms.  Pets are welcome and free to roam about unleashed.  Max and Dulcie quickly attempted to befriend the resident Jack Russell Terrier (who we affectionately called ‘Frank’ during our stay, but actually have no clue what his name is), who quickly put the kibosh on that idea.  Our room was definitely the smallest we’ve ever stayed in- the double bed went wall to wall with just enough room down each side for you to turn sideways and crawl into bed.  The bathroom was the same- washing my hair in the shower, my elbows were touching the walls!  Ha!  But it was a bed, a shower, a roof, and even had a small TV, so it was perfect for what we needed!  Best of all?  The location definitely couldn’t have been beat- right at the base of the Old Bridge overlooking the Neckar River!

The bridge gate dates back at least to the 16th century, originally part of the city wall.  Just to the left of the arch, you can see a metal monkey sculpture holding a mirror- legend has it that this is to teach all people entering the city humility.

The 'Alte Brucke"

The bridge, which takes folks from the Old Town to the suburb of Neuenheim on the opposite shore, is made of red sandstone and the idea was to replace the former wooden structures, which were frequently destroyed because of high waters and ice movements. The first wooden bridge at this place was mentioned in the 13th century, written down in the chronicals.  This one was built in the mid 1700s.  The sculptures on the bridge represent the four most important rivers in the area: “Rhein,” “Neckar”, “Mosel” and “Donau.”

Crossing the Neckar River

On top of the bridge, facing northward.

And the other side...Heidelberg is on the right.

We found a hidden gem- OK, not so hidden since there were plenty of people there, but most were locals, so we’ll say ‘tourist hidden,’ which we all know means the best for anything!- in a lush, green riverside park.  It’s definitely safe to say that this was the pups’ favorite part of Heidelberg :).

Watching the boat traffic...Barges, row boats, catamarans...

Resting before we head back into town...

John found some wild blackberries along the way, so we stopped for a snack 🙂

Now, on to the most famous castle in the world, the Heidelberger Schloss (Heidelberg Castle)!  It sits high above the city, built on a plateau jetting out of the side of the Königstuhl mountain, overlooking the entire valley.  Even in ruins (mostly), it’s so majestic and imposing, yet made of a warm-toned, red brick (as opposed to cold, grey stones that I generally think of where castles are concerned) so it almost blends into the mountainside.

'Heidelberger Schloss'

The castle, here in its heyday, was popularized by artists as early as the 1400s!

The castle was originally built in the 1200s, then added to and renovated over the next few hundred years.  By the 1600s, the extravagant kings of the area transformed it from a traditional fortified castle into a luxurious palace.  But as years passed, the palace was repeatedly hit by lightning- yes, it kept getting struck over and over again!- and descended into disrepair.  By 1800, it was abandoned.

In the castle courtyard

The most intact building left of the castle

Castle Clock. How neat is that?!

Castle Courtyard...Ruins...

Most castles had a 'Great Barrel' where wine from around the region was stored. This was one of the largest and prettiest in Germany. It was used until the wood rotted to the point where leaking couldn't be controlled.

During WWII, the German National Pharmacy (apparently Germany was a big player in the advancements of chemistry and the development of modern medicine), was destroyed, so they decided to move into one of the remaining castle buildings.  For the next few decades, the Pharmacy operated from here and today, the site has been preserved as a museum.  So neat!

Where you would have picked up your prescription 🙂

The 'Mixing Room' with all the pestles and mortars. These are the kilns in the middle of the room.

Heading back up to the top, we wanted to get the kings’ view of the city below.  WOW!

The large church is city center- we'll get a little more up and close and personal a little further down 🙂

Back to that big church we saw in the distance a few pictures up…The Church of the Holy Spirit is the symbol of Heidelberg and marks the central plaza, where we stopped for a tea (me) and beer (John) after our trek back from the castle.  The plaza is huge, lined with shops and cafes, filled with tables, umbrellas, and LOTS of walkers (and pups!)- resting their weary feet like we were!

John says these plazas are his favorite part of Europe. I think it's probably that AND the beer 🙂

The church was built in the late 1200s, then added to and remodeled throughout the years to be used by both Catholics and Protestants.

Front of The Church of the Holy Spirit. Tallest steeple in the region.

One fun fact: around 1700, a wall was built right down the middle of the church so both groups- Catholics and Protestants, could use the building simultaneously!  No evidence of said wall today, but still such a grande sanctuary!

Ceiling detail...

Prayer Wall...there are handwritten prayers in all languages from around the world. We found this so moving. And of course, we added our own prayer.

Heading back to the hotel, we ambled in and out of shops, stopped to people watch (SO much fun over here, by the way!), and just take in the sights and sunshine…

Random street. Isn't it marvelous?!

Another random street...Yep, that's John and Dulcie walking ahead 🙂

Random plaza...

OK, and one final funny story before I go…So, we ate our big meal at lunch (remember the beef and Bavarian Goulash and Color Bowl…).  A few hours later, I stopped to check out a menu (ie. cross my fingers and hope for an English translation menu!) at a restaurant as we passed by.  No, some things never change- I think I will always be consumed with food regardless of time of day!

John said to me, ‘Oh, there’ll be no way I can eat dinner.’

I replied, ‘I didn’t mean eat now, I was just looking for later.’

‘Well even later, there just won’t be any room at all.  But it’s fine, I’ll have a beer while you eat.  Or at most, an appetizer.’

‘OK, suit yourself.’

A few hours later, we found a delicious traditional German dive restaurant.  Best part?  English Translation Menu!  SCORE!  I decided on another regional salad with mixed greens, ham, sheep’s milk cheese and pineapple with homemade balsamico.  Mmmm…John decided on a beer and slice of complimentary rye bread.  Ha!  Yeah right!  He chose the largest meal on the entire menu, the Castle Platter!  Pork chop, rump steak and 3 sausages (strung together to add that little bit of German flare!) all in gravy with sliced potatoes sauteed in bacon grease and a side salad (because it’s important to eat healthily!).  Best part?  He ate all of it!  Don’t judge 🙂

John's meal. We joked for the rest of the night, 'Hey, do you have anything bigger than the Castle Platter? I'm eating light.' 🙂

My salad...

Well, boys and girls, that concludes our tour of Heidelberg!  The pictures don’t begin to do it justice, but hope they at least give you an idea of what an awesome town it is!  Definitely a must stop on your next visit to Germany!  Back to Stuttgart now!  Goodnight from Heidelberg 🙂

As we closed our curtains at night. Beautiful city...

5 Responses to “Heidelberg”

  1. Amanda Odom August 16, 2010 at 2:54 PM #

    I love reading your adventures! they inspire me to travel fun and beautiful places. im so happy for the ‘part of 4’ 🙂

  2. Michele McCullough August 10, 2010 at 8:16 PM #

    Erin,

    Reading this post and seeing all the beautiful pictures makes me homesick for Heidelberg! It looks like you guys are making the most of your time there in Germany. Keep the pics and stories coming!!

  3. Earline Williams August 9, 2010 at 5:34 PM #

    Erin, have enjoyed your pictures and your writtings so much. It seems like I am there with you 4.

  4. Erin T. August 9, 2010 at 2:34 PM #

    Thank you so much, Kim! So how’s the first month of mommyhood going?? I want to see pictures of those babies! 🙂

  5. Kim Terry August 9, 2010 at 1:11 PM #

    Erin,
    I love reading your blog! It looks like you and the family are having an awesome time! It makes me want to start planning a trip over there, but I think we’ll have to wait till these babies are a little older! So in the meantime I’ll just live it through your wonderful writing and photos! Have fun and be safe!

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