I’m not really sure what I expected from Heidelberg but my initial impression was of crass tourism. We found our way to the Hotel Goldener Falke in the old town and, as expect, our room wasn’t quite ready so we went out on one of the squares for a drink and a bite. Now picking a restaurant on a square is fraught to begin with but when I told the waitress, who’s english was as good as mine, that I had food allergies she looked at me like I was from Mars. Not a good start. We opted for a beer and a glass of wine and no food. We then made our way back to our hotel, which has a pretty good restaurant as it turns out, and had better results. Our room turned out to be very nice and thanks to triple pane windows, quiet.
The Altstadt (old town) of Heidelberg centers around the Hauptstraße, a pedestrian boulevard lined with jewelry, clothing and souvenir shops and inhabited by tired, worried looking tourist from around the globe. After settling in we decided to go out and get the lay of the land. We stopped in for a gelato and I have say it was very good, mine being a sorbet of pear and chocolate. On our way home we ditched Hauptsraße for the side streets which were deserted and charming. Why most tourist never venture beyond the prescribed tourist traps is beyond me.
This morning, after a hearty breakfast at our hotel we headed for the Alt Brücke (old bridge) and across the Neckar river for a hike on what is called the Philosopher’s Walk. On the bridge we encountered a horde of Chinese tourist with selfy sticks in hand. Resisting the urge to grab a stick and break it in two, we made it to the other side. Once there we were in a different world. As if protected by an invisible force field the tourist stopped at the halfway point of the bridge. The walk was peaceful, rising steeply through small orchards and vineyards. We encountered only a few souls, some locals and the few tourists brave enough to venture into the real world. After a half mile or so the steep, cobbled path opened onto a wide asphalt trail traversing the slope back down towards the modern town. The views of the Alt Stadt across the river were beautifully evocative.
After a time we were walking the winding streets of what must be a pretty ritzy neighborhood, back down to the river. From there a little used path along the river led placidly back to the bridge. I was warming to Heidelberg.
After lunch we stopped in at Pino’s pastry where Kay had spotted Sfogliatelle (insanely great Naples pastry). Pino was a real character and a breath of Italian fresh air in somewhat stuffy Germany. His espresso took me right back to old Napoli.
Next we visited the Heiliggeistkirche, the main Lutheran church here. The interior was quite beautiful, gothic but not dark and heavy as some are. There was a moving memorial to the victims of the Nazis. Germany will not forget her dark past.
I’ll sign off for now, dear reader. Tomorrow more highlights of Heidelberg.