Saturday, June 23, 2012

[Tourist] Day 40: Heidelburg or, as Ricky Bloody Steves Calls it, the Unromantic Rhine

Day 40:

I was uncertain of how to arrange my three days in Germany. As it happened I ended up ditching quite a few of my plans, in part due to the weather and in part due to work obligations. For example, I was going to take the train out to Moselkern and do the 90 minute hike to Burg Eltz, aka Rick Steves favorite castle in Europe. But between the rain, work, and the fact that the castle is getting extensive renovations done such that the outside if covered in scaffolding, I passed. Today's plan instead was to go to a place that Mr. Steves dislikes so much that he wouldn't even give it coverage in his Germany guide: Heidelburg. It is, as he puts it, very Americanized and touristy. It's also pretty cool.

Started the day with the free breakfast at the hotel. As promised, it was meat and cheese heavy, with very little in the way of sweet things or fruit. Probably good considering how many other sweets I'd eat in Germany.

Meat. Cheese. Bread. Egg. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Random but cool

The trip to Heidelburg is a pretty quick train ride. Only one problem for me: I followed the gentleman in front of me in boarding and sat down here:

It's like the first Harry Potter movie - there's so much room you don't even get a crotch shot!

The conductor was not amused to see that I had a second class ticket and was sitting in first class. But this is a first class trip, sir! Ah well, lesson learned: look for the 1 or the 2 on the outside of the train first.

Now you do.

As we neared the stop for Heidelburg, I headed towards the exit. Shortly after finding the doors, I was joined by two women, one of whom gave herself away as an American when she said "oops" after accidentally knocking the bathroom door open - very Danny kind of move there! I smiled at her and she asked me if this was the stop for Heidelburg. I think I answered something like "I hope so, but I'm an American so I have no clue". And at that, for the second time on the trip, I'd made some new friends for the day!

Since I had a map and some guidebook stuff on my iPad, we decided to head into town together and perhaps give the castle a try. While walking through the station we joined up with another American couple who were in for the day after taking a WWII guided tour throughout France and Germany. It became pretty clear early on that the gentleman preferred to go it alone and so they begged off of the group fairly early on. That left me with the original two delightful ladies, who I will assign the pseudonyms Mo and Wendy. Yes, those will do nicely.

The three of us made our way from the train station to the old town area, about a fifteen-minute walk away. We then wandered down Germany's longest pedestrian-only thoroughfare:

Things they have in Europe: Blockbuster. Woolworth. Huh.

Sounds like the kind of fine, upstanding academic institution that would hire me.

Just ignore all of those vehicles behind this sign in the pedestrian zone. Thanks.

This is what happens when you read too much kids. Someone bronzes your ass. Play it safe; get a DS.

Adjectives that I never, ever associate with cosmetics: lush. Nouns that I never, ever associate with lush: lemon.

Damn they are everywhere

Speaking of things that are everywhere...

Reminiscent of a certain earlier photo from Disneyland over a month ago

Hard Rock Heidelburg? That is kind of awful.

It's not really a mountain but come on, compared to what I'm going to get in a week back in Florida, it's Everest.

By this point it was just about noon and we were getting quite hungry. We looked a few different places but they were either (a) way too touristy or (b) only open for dinner. Finally we stopped in a hotel and I asked the woman at the front desk where she would go for lunch. She sent us across the street to a brewery and restaurant.

That's some other tourist group taking a photo - they then left without eating  or drinking anything. Good sign or bad?

Just keep your mouth shut, Danny

Each of us ordered this drink that combined beer with sparkling wine and strawberries. I hate beer, but this was fantastic!

Beer-ish thing that I actually liked

Wendy had the ravioli which, while not being a classic German dish, was the clear winner of the day. Mo and I helped ourselves liberally to Wendy's raviolis. I could go for some right now, in fact.

Come to Germany for the beersparklinewinestrawberries and stay for the ravioli. Who knew?

I had the cheese and cold meats board. Very tasty and very filling.

Look carefully and see if you can spot the slab of butter that is not, in fact, cheese.

Our waitress was absolutely adorable. Like everyone else in Germany (and unlike, say, the damn French) she spoke English very well but, much like the Japanese, she seemed just a bit embarrassed that she didn't speak it better. Look, I can say exactly six words in German, so you're already ahead of me on the second language thing!

After lunch we headed towards the castle on the hill. There were two options for getting up there: the tram (or funicular as it seems to be called everywhere else in the world) or walking the path. The tram seemed horribly overpriced and it was only once we'd walked the extremely steep, uneven cobblestone path up that we realized that it was included in the admission price we had to pay anyway. Whoops. Still, it meant that I didn't have to take the path down and for someone with my balance, walking down a steep path is far more dangerous.

"Um, sir, yes, excuse me. Are you aware that you have a lion coming out of you butt? Oh. You are? Carry on then".

This is way steeper than it looks

A sign of how steep it is: that bench is level.

The views from the top were fantastic. The castle itself was also pretty excellent, including a very impressive Renaissance courtyard. Some photos:

This better be worth the hike

You certainly can feel the history here

I think it's a clock? Either way it's awesome.

Now for some spectacular views

It was nearing 1:45 and, with the euros on at 6 (and with an excellent Germany - Holland match in the cards), I said goodbye to the ladies and made my way back to the train station, doing some shopping and (of course) eating on the way:

"We wanna perch on Scorsese's head"

OMG adorable dog!


Very little moments

One of each, please.

 Behold. the dessert delicacy of Rothenburg ob der Tauber (located miles away from Heidelburg): Schneeballen

Amaretto and marzipan? Sure, I'll have one.

Not half bad

And here's a photo of the world famous Heidelburg police station. Alright, it's not famous, I was just bored.

What the hellass?

What can I say? I really like bubble tea. Especially bubble tea that turns you into the Hulk.

Oh shit that cat's got a bazooka!

I settled into the room for the night with a loaf of fresh baked bread and a whole lot of Coke Zero. The Netherlands broke my heart again and I deserved no less for picking a team full of prima donnas to win the whole tournament. At least RVP scored. If he leaves the Gunners this summer I may just sell all of my things, renounce worldly goods, and move to Tokyo DisneySea, where I will eat from the leftover popcorn kernels and live in the shadow of Mt. Prometheus. Actually that sounds pretty awesome. Can I go do that now?

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