live slow, love nature, be adventurous

Friday, May 1, 2015

Playing Tourist in Heidelberg, Germany

I didn't have a particularly exciting Easter weekend. I spent most of it wholed up in my apartement, working on a university assignment and while everyone else was out enjoying the sun, my main source of entertainment came from occasionally taking a break to watch a bit of Suits. Luckily for me, though, Jen and her lovely roommate Josie did a little Germany road trip that weekend and stopped in Heidelberg for a few hours and so I obviously had to use the opportunity to hang out with my new blogging friend and show them around the city.

After a few rainy and grey days, the sun had finally come out to play again and we were lucky enough to experience the first true day of spring. Jen couldn't have picked a better time to visit Germany! As I headed over the river Neckar to our meeting point, I occasionally stopped to take pictures of the beautiful scenery: This spot is never as pretty as in the spring time! And after my self-imposed social exile - which I, by the way, absolutely don't recommend to anyone - being out and about and catching some fresh air felt like the best treat ever.

I met up with Jen and Josie for a light Sushi lunch, before taking them to Gelato Go for some of my favorite ice cream in the city. As we enjoyed our yummy dessert, we walked along the Hauptstra├če, the main pedestrian street in Heidelberg's Old Town, taking in the beautiful architecture along the way.

As a travel destination in Germany, Heidelberg is especially popular with tourists from the US and East Asia. It's a relatively small city with a lively student population and will hardly take more than a day to properly explore, but since it's only about an hour away from Frankfurt by train and lies directly next to the autobahn A5 on the way to Switzerland, it's conveniently located for a Germany trip.

The one thing you definitely should not miss when visiting Heidelberg is the Heidelberg Castle. As the main sight in Heidelberg, the castle is one of the primary reasons why people make the trek to this small city and it's a Renaissance building that majestically overlooks the river valley. It's a steep, but short walk and the view from the castle gardens alone is worth the climb. Since it was the Easter weekend, there were probably even more visitors than usual, so it was hardly a serene place, but we had fun chatting and occasionally snapping a picture of the city as we got closer to the castle.

The castle has been mostly in ruins since the 18th century and while I've seen drawings that depict the castle and its gardens in its golden days, it's hard to imagine just how impressive it must have looked in the glory of its days. It's still an interesting building and you can visit some of the rooms that are still intact, but since Jen and Josie still had to drive to their final destination of the day, we opted to just have a look at the castle grounds from the outside.

Eventually, we headed down the mountain again and decided to walk to the Old Bridge, one of the other major sights in Heidelberg. With its statues and cobblestone walkways - not to mention the amount of visitors that flock over the river each day -, the Old Bridge looks a little bit like a small version of Charles Bridge in Prague. I'm rarely in this part of town these days, but every time I do find myself there, I once again understand why Heidelberg is such a popular destination in Germany.

Unfortunately, Jen and Josie soon had to be on their way to Rothenburg, their next destination, and so we had to say our goodbyes way too early. It was such a lovely treat to hang out with Jen one last time before she moves back to the US this summer, though, and hopefully I can pay her a visit in the Pacific Northwest one day not too far in the future!

Since I wasn't ready to go back home yet and hit the books - it was Easter, after all - I took myself on a little walk along the river. I can often get so caught up in my work for university that I really don't appreciate living in this city enough, but seeing Heidelberg through the eyes of two first-time visitors definitely helped me see the beauty of this place again.

What would you show people visiting your town?


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