Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Day 13: Heidelberg by Night

This morning, we left what was beginning to feel familiar like home – the Westend hotel in Munich – and took another Flixbus to Heidelberg. Though it wasn’t an overnight bus, Mindy and I both took the opportunity to catch up on a bit of sleep, and so the ride passed quickly and uneventfully. What I saw of the German countryside through which we passed was reminiscent of parts of Ontario, with woods and hills, grapevines and solar panels.  The villages we passed were very un-Canadian, with the ceramic tiled roofs built with shelves and hooks to keep the snow on the roofs in winter (for insulation). Given that I still haven't finished insulating my own attic, perhaps I should take some inspiration here...

The Heidelberg Hotel, our home for the night, boasted a restaurant specialising in the food of the region – heavy on wild game.  If we weren’t focused on seeing the old town this evening, I might be game to try Erna's Gut Stubb, notwithstanding the name of the place!  (When in Rome.) Instead, we took a quick tram ride to the beginning of the old town, Bismarckplatz, and a quick dinner at the highly recommended Red Restaurant.

Though a university town, Heidelberg’s streets were surprisingly quiet in comparison to Munich, Paris, and Holland’s cities.  Many of the shops were closed, and so we moved quickly through the old streets to the primary attractions: the old town square and Heidelberg Castle, perched over the town.

The Heidelberg Church of the Holy Spirit was built in the fourteenth century, the third christian church built upon that very site. The most famous and oldest church in Heidelberg, it is considered one of the key sites to see in the old city.  Unfortunately for photographers everywhere, there is no good angle for a shot of the front! 

In the background, the Hotel Zum Ritter dates to the late sixteenth century.  Still operating as a hotel and fine restaurant, the hotel's friendly reception staff gave us a quick tour of the main floor (restaurant) and invited us to book there next time we are in Heidelberg. These two buildings, along with the Heidelberg Town Hall, dominate the old town square.

The castle was lit up against the night sky as a beacon overlooking the city.  The path leading up to the castle, conversely, was dark and deserted.  It added to the adventure as we crept onto the castle courtyard to take in the breathtaking views of Heidelberg by night, as well as the illuminated ruins of the castle itself.

Peering through a window from the inner courtyard, we saw some sort of banquet or gala taking place in one of the remaining grand halls. What an outstanding location!

The most stunning ruins of a tower and walls in the moat:

Heidelberg has been offered as the most romantic city in Germany, largely due to the ruins of Heidelberg Castle. The romantic association came about due to artists who flocked to the beautiful ruins in the early nineteenth century to be inspired by the both the castle and the stories it suggests, as well as the captivating view of the valley and town below.

Wandering back down from the castle through steep, narrow cobblestone roads, it occurred to me that Germany has severe winters.  These roads would be dangerous for both cars and pedestrians with a little ice or snow.  I guess winter tires simply aren't optional here!

We made our way back to the Hotel Heidelberg for an early night, intending to make the most of our day in Heidelberg tomorrow.

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