Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Ich hab’ mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren.

Freitag 27.1.06

This weekend is Heidelberg weekend. I was traveling alone; Daryl and John lived there, and Audrey backed out on me, so it was just me. Thursday night, however, I was informed that there was a group of a dozen or two MUDECers all going this weekend as well. This was good and bad news, but I couldn’t do anything about it now. After breakfast and packing, we headed to the Chateau for the one Friday class, then came back to Guy’s where Daryl and John (who were going to Freiberg and the Schwarzwald) made sandwiches for the weekend. These things were works of art with loads of spices and other crap. I was hungry and ate Babybells and sausage. We got on the same train to Lux, where we went to get our Eurail passes activated. I filled out the info before getting to the counter, thinking I was doing a good thing—apparently not. I was told then that they had to fill it out and I would have to get a replacement pass. This wouldn’t cost me money, but I would have to wait for it and I would miss my train. With the unsettling feeling of having been screwed with my pants on, I paid for a ticket and decided to deal with the Eurail pass later. My trip hadn’t started and I was out €100, needless to say I was ecstatic. (I resolved the issue on Tuesday, getting a replacement one, which cost me another €30, but now alles gute.)
The train ride from Lux to Heidelberg was uneventful other than the French apparently no longer feeling like the Schengen agreement is in effect and asking to see my passport at the border and asking me “Was machen Sie in Heidelberg?” Apparently “tourism” was the wrong answer, since he repeated it and gave me a weird look, but it wasn’t wrong enough to get arrested. I got to Heidelberg, walked out the front door of the train station, and was promptly lost. I knew I wasn’t near the city center and I hadn’t found a useful map yet so I just wandered in the FREEZING cold until I found somewhere to eat. (My jacket has a zip-in lining, but since I had been wearing the outer part with a hoody all week in Luxembourg, I figured that would be fine in Heidelberg…WRONG.) I eventually found a Thai restaurant where I got some Cow Pad Gai, which was delicious. I headed back out and found a cab to get me to the Jugendherberge, which was also nowhere near the center of the city, but nowhere near the Hauptbahnof either. I got there, checked in without trouble, and tried to get to my room. The locks were a gigantic pain in the ass. They were key cards, but like none I had ever seen. You sort of held them against the lock which was also the latch and then jimmied it until it opened. It took me a while to figure out. I read for a while, and hit the sack.

Samstag (Sonnabend) 28.1.06
I woke up around 8:30 and headed down for breakfast. The usual cold cuts and marmalade awaited me. I saw a table of MUDEC people but just sat on my own, since I am a morgenmuffel and not really awake, and also not wanting to spend my day of sightseeing in a large group of Americans. I grabbed a bus into town and started to wander the city. I quickly became very cold. It was very obviously a college town—it seemed dominated by coffee shops, bookstores, and bars. There were a lot of young people walking and jogging around. It is a very pretty, very German town. I heard plenty of German, but also plenty of English. There is a US Army base outside the city, and I saw one or two Americans with military haircuts wandering around.
After I had wandered enough (and bought a sweatshirt for another layer), I headed to the Schloß. This large, partially ruined castle sits on a hill/mountain behind the city. It takes an invigorating hike up steep stone lanes to reach the Schloß. Once there, one has quite a nice view of the city. Inside there were two wine casks, labeled Kleine Faß and Große Faß. The Kleine Faß holds 45.000 liters. That’s the small one. The large one has a dance floor on top of it. It holds 221.726 liters. To put that in perspective, if the castle as a whole consumed 600L per day for a year, there would still be 2000L of wine in the barrel for hangover cures on New Years Day. As far as I have been able to tell, it has never been full. Understandable, as it would probably hold all the wine grown in that area of the Neckar River. Have I been able to impress upon you how big it is?
There is also a pharmacy museum in the castle. About half the displays had English translations and it was somewhat interesting. One of the rooms was in a tower and the walls must have been two meters thick. I heard someone say that the castle was never taken, and I believe it. I then headed out to the gardens beside and behind the castle. Seeing as there was 2-4 inches of snow on the ground, they weren’t exactly gardens, but it was still a nice area with good views of the city.
I then headed back to the city and wandered down Hauptstraße. As I walked by Heiligkeitskirche, I noticed that it was open, so I stepped inside. I was very surprised, because it was brightly white and painted a startling white. It was a quite nice inside, and also warm, which was very important. The organ or lack thereof, was a disappointment, though not a large one. I then headed back to the main street. I bought a newspaper and sat in starbucks reading it for a while. It was warm. A couple of German students sat down at the same table I was at and when I left, I said “Auf Wiedersehen” and they said “Bye.” Then I headed to the Kurpfälzisches Museum. There was a good collection of German art inside that was pretty interesting. The real highlight was the jawbone of the “Heidelberg Man.” This is a bone they found that is 600,000 years old. Reading about that was pretty cool, as was seeing it. I ran into some MUDECers when I left the museum and we headed up the Philosophenweg. This is a trail up the mountain opposite the Schloß. Goethe and Mark Twain were said to have walked it while looking for inspiration, among others. We eventually headed down the mountain and went to get food. We stopped at a cheap looking place that said it was Italian, and a couple of them stopped at the place next door that said it was Mexican. The Italian food was good, I had a pizza and a half, but the Mexican food looked rather Turkish to me, seeing as there were slabs of lamb roasting. Anyway, we then headed back to the bus stop and got on the bus to take us back to the Jugendherberge. Unfortunately, we got on it going the wrong way. An hour and a half later, we made it back. I went back to my room and was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, when I wasn’t even trying to go to sleep. Unfortunately, the Brazilian in the bunk below me was competing for the Gold Medal in competitive snoring, so my sleep was interrupted from time to time.

Sunday 29.1.06
I woke up, confused as to when I had to check out, so I just got my stuff together and headed down. Checkout went without a hitch, I ate breakfast, and I headed into town. I had planned on stopping in a bookstore or something, but Hauptstraße was empty and everything was closed. I headed to the Hauptbahnof for something that is open. When I was there, I ran into five MUDEC girls. They were heading up Philosophenweg, and I tagged along, since I hadn’t seen it in the daylight. We hiked up the mountain for a long time, and had a good time translating all the things that were written on monuments near the trail. We eventually headed back into the city, and since my train back was a few hours earlier than theirs, I bade the girls goodbye and headed back to the train station. My train ride home was uneventful. While I sat at home, I got a text message from John telling me that their train was late and that they might miss the last train back to Obercorn from Luxembourg City. I told them that Guy was not awake, had to work at 6 tomorrow, and that if they wanted to ask him to wake up and get them, I didn’t approve and wouldn’t help them. It ended up not mattering, since they held the train for them, and they got home fine. Here ends Heidelberg.

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