Mon 16 Dec - Heidelberg, Germany

On the train again...

Up at 6.30am to say goodbye to Anni who had to leave for work at her primary school at 6.45am. Bye Anni, we will see you again soon, right? Breakfast, shower, packing up and we were then ready just before 8.30am. Bye Anni and Holger. We had a great time.

Franci, the female owner of the farm, was driving her daughter to school at 8.30am and she had offered (well, when asked by Holger) to give us a lift to Tübingen Bahnhof at the same time. Very nice, thank you very much Franci.

We were with chatting about Oz as both her and her daughter had been there for extended periods of time. The drive went well meaning that we arrived smoothly at the station just before 9am.

Holger and Anni advised us about a 27€ full day Basen-Würthenberg (the German state where we are currently in) rail ticket, good for 2 people, which would allow both of us to travel from Tübingen to Stuttgart, Stuttgart on to Heidelberg and then was also good for local travel in Heidelberg. No ICE trains were allowed but we were not in a hurry so that was fine.

So, at Tübingen Bahnhof we purchased one of those tickets from a machine after negotiating umpteen number of questions in German.

Timing was perfectly in our favour. The next train to Stuttgart was due to leave Tübingen station just 5 minutes after we had our tickets so off we went.

Location shot from inside the IRE train to Stuttgart where Di managed to lose her full water bottle from her backpack down onto the gentleman in red while she was putting it onto the overhead rack. The bloke took it all in his stride and no damage done (or none at least noticeable).

Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof was a marvel of construction which we had been forewarned about by Holger and Anni. We didn't stay very long other than checking out the gleis (platform) for our next train to Heidelberg...

...and getting ourselves a cup of coffee for our next leg.

On the train again... Now from Stuttgart to Heidelberg. Landscape somewhat less interesting here.

After arriving at Heidelberg Hauptbahnhof, we took bus 33 to Peterskirche from where it was just a short walk to our hotel called Backmulde Gaststätte on Schiffgasse, a side street to Hauptstraße, the very long pedestrian walkway that goes from Bismarckplatz eastwards and is a block away from River Neckar.

Here is an overview of Heidelberg and our hotel is sort of opposite number 31 in the orange square in the map (and slight left and down from the marked orange bridge).

Our hotel Backmulde Gaststätte to the right with River Neckar straight ahead.

So, after checking in around 12.30pm way ahead of official check in time of 3pm, no dramas all good room ready, and a short break in the room, we went out again in search of lunch.

Between our hotel and river Neckar is part of the Heidelburg University (there were educational facilities everywhere), with a typical university blend of glamourous old buildings and really crappy additions from the 70s or so, see building far left with just a small inclusion in the photo for comparison.

To the right was the university's student union and canteen and that was buzzing as we passed.

We continued down to river Neckar and did a selfie with the Alte Brücke in the background.

And the Alte Brücke from the eastern side as we at this time had decided to take a bus back to Bismarckplatz where we had seen many cheap looking eateries as we arrived in town.

On the northern side of River Neckar is Philosopher's Way, a zigzagging system of walkways up the hill. Yep, we will do that, but not today.

Just off Bismarckplatz, we found several adjacent cheap eateries catering for students. One of the Asian feeds had lot of people in it and the menu looked great and cheap.

Hans got a large chicken curry with rice for 5.90€, a very nice change from wurst and German food (there is absolutely nothing wrong with German food, but variety is the spice of life as they say).

Di had rice and stir fried spicy chicken and beans. Pretty good.

Afterwards, we decided to wander back towards our accommodation checking out things as we went along. This is how Runkeeper recorded our travels.

A few non-touristy observations along the way...

In this vending machine, you can stock up on your pepper spray after you run out. And if you require a holder from your pepper spray, you can get that here too, and a personal alarm should somebody... attack you using pepper spray perhaps...

At this point Di realized she had lost her $2 beanie bought all those months ago in Los Angeles. We figured a uni student had quickly adopted it. A bit sad but wait...she has a spare (her old grey one).

Free books from a book shelf off Hauptstrasse. We couldn't figure out exactly how it worked, instructions were written in long and complicated German on the side of the book shelf, but people seemed to select books and then just take the books with them, presumably to return them once read or contribute other books to the community.

Di found a fiction book that she liked, took it with her, and gave Hans a vague promise that she will return it after reading it. Of course she will...

Now, what is on offer here? A vodka bar? No, it is actually a tattoo parlor, closed on Mondays ie. today.

And how nice is this? Zum Franziskaner, Hans favourite Weissbier, has its own pub on Hauptstrasse. Unfortunately, the karma was dismal when we passed it later in the evening. Only one couple in the whole place could be seen from the outside.

Of course, it is inevitable that we would get to Christmas markets in Heidelberg at this time of the year. They were spread over several Platz or squares in the Altstadt section of town. This one had lots of trees...

And one more...

Apparently they sell Glühwein here (spelt out on 5 signs in this photo).

And what the hell is a "Germknödel"? Sounds appetizing...

Another must-see attraction of Heidelberg is of course Schloss Heidelberg or Heidelberg Castle up the hill. The Christmas decorations framed it nicely from below.

We did a quick detour to understand how the furnicular and castle admission worked for a visit tomorrow and then back to the main drag again.
Looking west on Hauptstrasse. You can stand below that colourful Christmas candle decoration and drink beer or glühwein as that is what they sold there. One of the nicest and most different market stands that we have seen in Europe.

After a relaxing tea break at Starbucks, OK we are fans now, we walked back home, arriving after 4pm and relaxed a bit more. It was early up and get going today and the weather had turned a bit nippy, so why not? One comment here...very very nice bed for a nana nap...

At 7pm, we ventured out again for a quick WeihnachtsMarkt meal, or two.

We started off by sharing a bratkartoffeln and then Di had a frikadelle and Glühwein (see below) while Hans had a... currywurst (see table below). Wunderschön.

After a bit more loitering around the markets, to finish off the night, we walked to the Alte Brücke to check out the night views of Heidelberg. The castle is to the right...

And of course, a prominent almost 1000 year old bridge like this would be nicely lit up at night. This photo was taken by a young American from Virginia who probably saw us failing taking a selfie through a succession of attempts.

The towers on the Heidelberg side looked so great so here is another photo of Hans.

A reinventive initiative by the church? This little alcove which was part of the church building had seating for two people to eat and seemed to be run by the restaurant behind where Hans took this photo. It was all open there and you could look inside, but possibly a tad too cold for a meal there tonight.

Another photo of that nice looking drinkery from earlier during the day. It looked even better at nighttime and there were plenty of punters drinking there as we passed.

After a stop at the corner shop for Di to get some good night milk, we went back to base and decided to call it a day with a bit of online research and reading. Over and out for tonight from Heidelberg. Gute Nacht.


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