I am remiss in all my writings for missing my beloved haunt of Deutschland. Mea culpa, mea culpa. There are those out there who claim Germany is a dull country with duller cuisine filled with cold and unfriendly inhabitants. They usually only say that because they have never been to the fairy tale land of Germany, stumbled into a biergarten and made friends for life over a nicely grilled brautwurst, a pile of pommes and a liter or so of finely crafted beer.
Aside from those reasons, Germany is ridiculously user friendly. Everyone speaks English and no one’s nose is put out of joint if you fail to speak German. Public transport is easy to use and routes devilishly easy to navigate.
The sad fact of the matter is that I rarely have stayed in a hotel in Germany – I lived there once upon a time and since then have usually stayed with friends. So sadly, this post will have very little (or rather no) narrative regarding hotels.
From my days as an au pair, some long hours on days off were spent on this exact spot, eating my humble meht baguette lunch in the castle gardens and looking down on the city below. It was, and always will be, my quintessential European experience.
Personally, this city has always captured the essence of what Germany has always been to me – an escape in a city that doesn’t feel like a city, shopping that involves meandering amongst quaint boutiques and snacks abound within your reach.
Heidelberg is known for its university as well as its lovely baroque buildings. The above photo is perhaps the most famous – the Hotel Ritter on the platz in the old city. Still a functioning hotel, it’s a lovely spot to stop for a coffee and kuchen, especially on rainy day.
It’s well worth the walk up from the city center to the castle (or if you’re already fatigued, the funicular is also a great option). The castle gardens and courtyards are free of charge to wander around and (in the summer) are often venues for plays and concerts. If you’re on a budget, might I suggest buying a sandwich and a beer to enjoy there, so long as the weather is nice.
The Apothecary Museum is also (usually) free of charge and very fun to walk around.
The best time to go? Winters can be chilly, but you can always warm up with a glass of gluhwein. Otherwise, I love the period right after Oktoberfest – the crowds are gone and the cities seem to unwind from that hype.
Heidelberg is easily accessed by all national and regional trains – and German trains seem to have set the standard of all rail travel. Seriously, they’ve made it into a well defined pleasure as opposed to just a necessity. Once arrived, you can hop on the local busline (just outside the station) and cheaply ride your way into the old city.
The walk to the city square is littered with glorious temptations – from H&M, Pull&Bear, a hot chocolate shop, a gummi bear boutique and so many others. Remember to stay strong and shop on the way DOWN – otherwise you have to carry your purchases around all day with you.
Another must is a walk along the Carl Theodor Old Bridge, which breathtakingly spans the River Neckar. If you have a chance, snap a pick of the castle up above you.
Gates of Castle Gardens
While this post had little of pure fact and substance, I hope the photos and my glowing opinions inspire you to go. Heidelberg is not to be missed.