For our third day in Germany, we were given a free day to walk around Heidelberg, followed by a dinner in Kaiserslautern. Typical tourist pics are linked below.
A few fun facts about Heidelberg, gleaned mostly from the tour guide at Heidelberg Castle (one cannot enter any of the castle’s interior spaces without joining a guided tour, which cost us something like 10 euros apiece):
– Heidelberg’s population of around 160K is roughly 30 percent students. Germany provides a free university education to anyone, from any nation, who can: a) meet school entrance requirements, b) demonstrate proficiency in the German language, and c) show an ability to pay living expenses. The number one nation currently taking advantage of this opportunity: China. How cool it would be to attend a university that dates back to 1386, a good four centuries older than any of our own ivy-leagues, and to do so free of charge! Things I wish I had known…
– The castle at Heidelberg has been at least a partial ruin for centuries and, as such, has inspired much romantic literature. Consequently, proposals to completely restore it have been squashed by the locals. The compromise has been to restore selected sections and leave the rest in all its decrepit glory.
– There is a large hall inside the castle (large, as in the size of a gymnasium) that has been restored, and you can rent it for just a few hundred euros. Unfortunately, you must pay extra if you want to heat it, and that costs a few thousand euros. Still, not a bad price to have, say, your wedding, inside a castle. I don’t include photographs of the hall, or any interior spaces, because I was told indoor photography was prohibited. Seems silly since I am sure thousands of indoor photographs are taken whenever the hall is rented, but who am I to argue?
– You can see in the photos that one of the round corner towers (serious castle buffs may cringe at my ignorance of the proper terminology) looks as though it has been sliced with a giant paring knife. The French briefly occupied the castle and, upon departing, blew up the powder magazine located there. That must have been one hellacious boom.
After touring the castle, we had a quick lunch and then walked around the Old Town section a bit. Today, it’s basically a shopping mall, but it is set within a 14th century architecture, so one need only look above ground floor to be appropriately wowed. With more time, I would have liked to have crossed the bridge over the Neckar River and strolled along the Philosopher’s Walk, but we were not able to fit that into the schedule.
Click the picture below to view the album on Flickr: