Puddle Jumpers

Enjoying life, off the hamster wheel

Day 16

DAY 16

We went early with Uncle Peter and Irmgard to Heidelberg. Richard studies medicine at Heidelberg University, and got a scholarship to study at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm this winter, so Peter and Irmgard picked up Richard’s belongings in his flat in Heidelberg and then drive him to the airport in Frankfurt.

Peter and Irmgard dropped us off in the town square of Heidelberg, and we went exploring for the day. We began by having lunch in a cute restaurant whose name translates to “The Golden Sheep”, and then wandered around the main tourist drag, until we found a good coffee place (ironically across the street from Starbucks). After Ingrid got her coffee fix, we started exploring this beautiful town.

The architecture is a little newer than, say, Rothenburg. Most of the buildings are from the 1600-1700’s. There’s a lightness to the structures that medieval architecture doesn’t have. During our wanderings, we came across a Catholic church that once was a Jesuit church. It’s been considerably renovated, and it was beautiful, light and airy inside.

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We saw a pieta sculpture with a modern painting of Pope John Paul II beside it. On close inspection, the Pope’s figure was paintings of overlapping and entwined crosses or barbs, that from a distance simply looks like a portrait of the Pope in deep anguished prayer, but close up, you notice the crosses or barbs. It was actually quite beautiful.

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After wandering around the town for a little bit, and finding a small modern art gallery for Ingrid to balance all the old history we had seen to this point. There was an installation by Jo Achermann we took some pictures of.

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After visiting the gallery, we decided to go up to the Heidlberg Schloss. It’s an old castle and fortification from the early 1200’s, that was partially destroyed in 1693 by the invading French forces. It was never repaired after that. But many famous people came and spent time here, including the likes of Goethe and Mark Twain. So up the 315 steps from the city to the entrance to the castle we go. Pause. Enter the castle, and tour through the outer and inner castle where a variety of architectural styles are present as the various owners would add on or modify things. One of the highlights was the “Grosses Fass”, or the Great Vat.

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It was used by the nobles to store the tariffs they would collect from the local farmers in the form of wine. They would pour all the wine they collected into it, and from there it could be pumped into the throne room. It is said that it was filled three times in the history of it’s usage, which is pretty impressive as it holds 221,726 litres. There is also the Pulver Turm, or Gunpowder Tower, where the militia would store their munitions, at least until the French blew it up.

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The blast blew one whole side off in a single piece, which is still laying below the tower, and you can see that the tower walls were about 16 feet thick. That’s some explosion. We wandered around in the gardens were Goethe would have his love trist with his 30 years younger lover (a young woman writer whose name escapes us right now), took in the awesome view

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and then we descended back into town, past a flock of grazing sheep,

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and to another cute little restaurant for dinner. (Yes I know, we say all the restaurants we’ve gone to are cute, but the truth is we’ve been choosing the cute ones.)

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After dinner we found an internet café, to do a quick little post before Peter and Irmgard picked us up to return to Ansbach.

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Chaulk up another wonderful day in Germany.

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This entry was posted on September 3, 2006 by in Germany, Main, Travel.

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