The journey of a thousand miles begins with...the perfect pair of shoes.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Welcome to Heidelberg

Subtitle: I'm completely lazy. I've been planning this post for weeks, but I've just not had the inclination time to actually post it. Sorry! About 2 weeks ago we went downtown and I took a bucket load of photos. Seriously, I took more than 400. I won't post them ALL here because I think it might jam blogger up beyond redemption. This is major on photos though, so make sure your coffee cup is full and sit back as we tour this beautiful city.

This is one of my favorite things about Europe. Open air markets. It is so nice to be able to buy fruit, veg, cheeses or breads that are fresh and local. Man, I'm hungry just thinking about it.

Oh, look! Fresh roasted chestnuts? Smells like the holidays!

Looking towards the other side of the river:

I love this building! Look at that ivy!
The church. Hey, there's M down in the left corner. Doesn't he look cute? And maybe slightly bored. I was stopping about every 3 feet to take photos. Not so much fun for him.

We're walking towards the castle.

This sign gives you the different ways to get to the castle (schloss in German). You can take the 315 steps (10 minutes my arse) or the incline, which is 282 feet up (again, 10 minutes? I don't think so).

We opted for the incline. It's so steep! Indy ran up part of it, but had to stop for a rest. See how far back Mommy and Daddy were?

Into the castle. I should tell you that the Heidelberg castle is actually mostly a ruin. It was burned in the 1600's (IIRC) and during the Thirty Years War, parts were rebuilt, it was abandoned by the Electorate (like a Prince), townspeople quarried it for construction materials, it was repaired, lightening struck, it was again abandoned, it was repaired, lightening struck again, and it was kind of left alone after that, and mostly used for tourism. Some of the towers and lower structures are in great shape. The Church and great hall are gorgeous. I had a friend get married in the castle about 10 years ago and it was the most stunning wedding and reception I've ever been to. But, I digress. Here we go.

A gorgeous view of the city. See the Church? That's the one I showed you earlier with M in the pic. We walked a long way.
It's like walking through a fairy tale.

Oh, this is the big vat. Yes, it's a real vat, and yes they really used to keep wine in it. I don't think I would have wanted to drink it. Also, they really need to dust it. Ick.

Some random sculpture. I'm sure it's symbolic and had I grown up with an education in the Renaissance I'm sure I'd know who this is and why he's sculpted on the side of the castle. But I didn't and I don't, so I just think he's pretty. Nice abs. Wonder what he's hiding behind that cloth?

My boys looking over the bridge at one of the lower parts of the castle that are completely destroyed.

See? Destroyed. Beautiful though.

Indy found the "biggest leaf in the entire world." Take him to a castle, he looks at the leaves. Good times.

This is the Elizabeth gate. It was built as a gift for Elizabeth Stuart (daughter of England's James I) from her husband Prince Electorate Fredric V. The whole area was originally a gunpark, but he turned it into a pleasure garden for her. There was at one time a wall here, but now only the gate remains. FYI, Elisabeth and Frederic were the great-great grandparents of England's George III. You know him right? We had that whole revolutionary war thing against him and his unfair taxes (especially on our tea) and whatnot.

The powder turret was split by an explosion. Mark Twain described it in his book A Tramp Abroad. Here is a lovely excerpt.:

A ruin must be rightly situated, to be effective. This one could not have been better placed. It stands upon a commanding elevation, it is buried in green woods, there is no level ground about it, but, on the contrary, there are wooded terraces upon terraces, and one looks down through shining leaves into profound chasms and abysses where twilight reigns and the sun cannot intrude. Nature knows how to garnish a ruin to get the best effect. One of these old towers is split down the middle, and one half has tumbled aside. It tumbled in such a way as to establish itself in a picturesque attitude. Then all it lacked was a fitting drapery, and Nature has furnished that; she has robed the rugged mass in flowers and verdure, and made it a charm to the eye. The standing half exposes its arched and cavernous rooms to you, like open, toothless mouths; there, too, the vines and flowers have done their work of grace. The rear portion of the tower has not been neglected, either, but is clothed with a clinging garment of polished ivy which hides the wounds and stains of time. Even the top is not left bare, but is crowned with a flourishing group of trees & shrubs. Misfortune has done for this old tower what it has done for the human character sometimes−improved it.

Boy, that Mark knew how to write didn't he?

This is a view of the castle and hillside from one of the upper garden terraces. Notice the sheep grazing? How idyllic is this?

Okay, this is hard to see, but if you zoom in, you can see a guy down at the bottom. See him? Go ahead, have a peek and come back. I'll wait.....Did you see him? Know what he's doing? He's relieving himself! It's legal to urinate pretty much anywhere in Germany as long as your back is to the street. Nice for guys. For women...not so much. I know I shouldn't have taken this photo, but I just couldn't help myself.

The terrace. The above picture was taken from the top.

Here's the upper terrace from a lower terrace.

The path in front of the upper terrace.

As we made our way back down from the castle night fell and the performers came out. It was a Friday evening and they were out in full force. Most of them were musicians, but this guy was unique. He twirled fire! He threw it up in the air! He blew fire! He swallowed fire! Indy was in awe.

I couldn't resist taking some photos of this stall. Aren't these arrangements adorable? Wouldn't they look lovely on your Thanksgiving table?

Let's look a little closer. How cute would these little pumpkins or gourds be as place card holders? And guests could take them home after dinner. Adorable!

We walked a total of 7.5 miles that day. We took a bus downtown, but from the bus stop up to the castle and back was 7.5 miles (my cell has a pedometer on it). Indy walked every step of it. He slept like hard that night. M and I did too.

So ends our little tour. There's so much more to see though. Stay tuned!


Marcia said...

It's hard to believe someplace really truly looks like that. So beautiful!

Jamie said...

Beautiful! I would love to be able to visit there some day. When I win the lottery I'll put that on my list!

The Nester said...

When can I come visit?

That is breathtaking!

Katie @ said...

Thanks for telling me about this post. I've never been to Heidelberg, and it looks just smashing. I'm a big fan of castles... though I often find myself looking at a lot of the leaves and trees just like your son! You really caught the German essence here, and I love it.

Sonya said...

So beautiful! I love every single photo you posted. I live close to germany and love going over there and taking photos of everything I see there. Have a wonderful sunday!

Mrs. Lovely said...

Gorgeous photos! Very nice.

brainella said...

Wow. Such gorgeous pictures. I love the street view pictures. And that one of the sheep is lovely. :)

Carolyn @ My Backyard Eden said...

Wow. What a gorgeous place to be. Thank you for sharing. You are a great photographer!

When did I become my Mom said...

Wow, that was a fantastic post!!

That's what I imagine when I think princesses and castles - gorgeous and serene and majestic.


Life with Kaishon said...

Wow. Your city is SO beautiful! Really lovely!

Joanna Jenkins said...

You're right. This DOES look like a fairy tale city. Thanks for sharing!!!

Twincerely,Olga said...

just amazing!!! Totally gorgeous!!!!

newmami_rgv said...

wow... just beautiful. thanks for sharing

Unknown Mami said...

Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor. What a great post! Mark Twain could write!

I'm so glad I got to see these pictures. It's hard to pick a favorite, but I love the building with the ivy on it.

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