Friday, February 22, 2013

Romantic Heidelberg

  On top of the Old Bridge

 Now it is time for my post about my third travel location: Heidelberg, Germany.

     First off, this place is absolutely gorgeous. It has the perfect mixture of modern and old world charm. I missed my bus from Frankfurt because the map that the bus company provided was incorrect and they arrived 10 minutes early which meant they left 10 minutes early. So I only had 5 minutes to realize the directions were false, ask for help, call the company, and find the bus. But, I missed it so I took a train to Heidelberg. Which, turned out better because I arrived there earlier.
     Upon arrival I texted my new Couch Surf Host, Ben, and we arranged for me to take the Tram to his stop and he would meet me there. When I got off the tram I did not see him until the tram passed and I saw he was on the platform opposite. We quickly went to his place, talked, ate a quick lunch, then headed off to the inner city where he would show me around. :) Ben is a student studying Sciences at Heidelberg University. He has traveled around quite a bit and had may interesting stories. I loved talking with him because we had different opinions about somethings and we would argue about it with good humor.

     First we went to the Student Prison!! This was where in the 1800s-1900s students were governed not by the local government but by the school. So if they misbehaved or got into trouble with the law then they would be sent here for a few days to sleep and think about what they had done. At first it was considered horrible to go here, but towards the end it was the "cool thing to do". On the walls were shadow-portraits and peoples stories about what they did to get there. My favorite one was "3 honest students had found rocks on the sidewalk. As these rocks were 'found objects' they felt inclined to return them to the authority...-by throwing them through the windows of the police station". I though that one was the best, but there were other stories about letting loose pens of pigs and chasing them into the city, calling the police names, etc. It was so interesting to hear these stories (Ben had to translate them for me) and laugh about the creative ways people thought of to get into the prison.

Inside one of the rooms of the Student Prison

     After this we went to the main Cathedral where we climbed the steeple to (almost) the top where we had a beautiful 360 view of the city. Here Ben and I took our time, talked with one another, and enjoyed the beautiful view of Heidelberg. He told me of festivals the town had, the joys of living here, and so much more. I could have stayed here forever but we soon headed off to the old bridge.

The view from the top of the Cathedral
     The Old bridge was fun and really neat to be on but we crossed it fairly quickly because Ben had arranged for me to see an old European Fraternity house. This was so cool! His friend toured us around, told us some of the history, and let me meander my way around telling them about the Fraternities in the states. (Sorry now pictures or names because I do not want everyone getting too nosy :P )
     Ben and I decided it was time to go grocery shopping for Bens going away party tonight (he has an internship in Frankfurt for the next 6 months). He decided he wanted to make Hamburgers and drink beer. An American specialty ;) I helped him make the burgers and cut the veggies. Ben even taught me a few things about making Burgers! Go Ben!!! The burgers turned out delicious and I congratulated Ben on becoming a "Professional American Burger Cook". :-)

The next day I left Ben's (I was only spending one night with him because he was leaving for Sweden then Frankfurt) and headed to the Heidelberg Castle. It was 300+ stairs to the top and I nearly died with all the weight on my back and shoulders because I had all of my stuff with me. The castle had been built, destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed, etc. multiple times and the remnants created a beautiful mystique within itself and Heidelberg. From here the view was absolutely breath taking-more so than the Cathedral. I spent a long time just looking out onto the city and wandering around the ruins. I have found that I had come to love Heidelberg and now I would love to return to Heidelberg, and Germany, sometime in the spring/summer of a future year to see a different season of beauty.

The view from the Castle

     Towards the end of my wandering of the Castle I get a text from my new host, Uros, that he was in the area and could pick me up. We discussed a meeting point but, me being me, I got confused and lost. So I had to call him and describe where I was at. Uros was totally cool about all of it and found me within about 20 minutes. We then headed to his place where we had some great conversations about his job, life, and about Heidelberg. Uros was a Physicist who was full of life and stories galore. He is an inspiration to those who love to travel and try new things. At his place he was so kind as to let me crash there the rest of the day and to also do laundry. I was amazed that his washer was also a dryer and within 4 hours I could have my clothes washed and drieed in the same machine! Uros laughed at me because I was so shocked and awestruck by it.

Parts of the ruined Castle.
     Uros left me alone in his place to go back to work and I quickly did all my laundry. He came home a few hours later and invited me out to dinner with a friend of his. However, I only had a pair of leggings and a tank top on and everything else was still in the wash. He was so nice and asked his friend to bring some clothes for me and let me where a hoodie of his. When we picked up his friend I decided to just stay in the hoodie and look like a true "careless" American. ;-) We tried to go to an Italian place but they were booked so we went to Uros favorite German restaurant. I tried a new German dish "Flammkuchen" that was like realllly thin pizza crust with procceutto, cheese, onions, and a special sauce on it. IT WAS SO GOOD! And his friend that we were with was great company. She was so nice and was so willing to tell me everything she could about Slovakia and her life. I greatly enjoyed her company and her opinions/knowledge about the world.
After dinner we went home to play cards with more of Uros friends who were all scientists. We drank some really yummy red wine and played card games until 6am. However, I did not regret that I would only have 2 hours of sleep because I had so much fun!

Me at the Castle!!! 

     I am so grateful for the people I have met so far and for sharing a moment of their lives with me. So far these people are the most amazing and inspiring people I have known and I wish them all the happiness in their futures. I also hope to meet them again and build some good lasting friendships. Thank you everyone.

XOXO Emily

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