The first beautiful clear morning in Heidelberg, I decided to go to the Castle. I texted my landlord, Markus, to find out the best way to get to the Funicular that takes you up to the castle. I know it’s possible to walk up, but it’s quiet a climb and I really wanted to ride the Funicular. Markus replied that the #33 bus that stops just across from my apartment would take me to the Funicular. The bus trip was easy and stopped right in front of the entrance to the Funicular. The price was right…7 Euros for the Funicular and admittance to the Castle.
The beautiful Castle provides stunning views of the Neckar Valley. The beginnings of the Castle are closely linked to the founding of the town of Heidelberg, which appears for the first time in a document in 1196. The rise and fall of the Electors Palatine largely determined the fate of the complex. Throughout the centuries, the castle was both a fortress and a residential palace. In 1689, a French general commanded the destruction of the town and Castle. The Castle was restored, only to be finally destroyed once and for all by the French again in 1693. The magnificent ruins provide a cultural monument that attracts a million visitors a year.
Especially interesting was the Great Barrel. The third Great Barrel was built in the Castle in 1750 and holds 58,000 gallons of wine. The German Apothecary Museum was founded in Munich in 1937 and has been housed in the Castle since 1958. The museum contains four centuries of objects and provides an overview of the history of medicinal practices. I briefly visited the Castle in the 1980s and I was pleased to see how well it has been maintained throughout the years.
I decided to stroll through the Christmas Market after my visit to the Castle. As I made my way down the Market Platz, I saw the Schwan Restaurant, a place with lots of atmosphere and a wonderful looking German food menu. It was a little early, but I decided to have lunch. What a great experience! The restaurant quickly began to fill up with local diners. Four German ladies sat at the table next to me and we smiled and acknowledged each other. When my food arrived, they said “Bon appetito”. I enjoyed a delicious rahm schnitzel with spaetzle, a small salad, and a glass of local wine. As I was finishing my meal, a local couple asked if they could join me since the other tables were full. I said, “please do”. The man spoke English and we had a nice conversation while I finished my cup of tea.
As I started to walk down the street toward Bismarck Platz, it began to sleet and quickly turned to blowing snow and then large snowflakes. I hurried to the little mini-mall area where I wanted to use the ATM. I got my cash and walked across to the tram stop and boarded the #5 tram that took me to my apartment. What an eventful day!! My jeans were wet below my coat but I wasn’t freezing because the temperature wasn’t that low. I dried off, changed clothes, and fixed myself a nice hot cup of tea. Welcome to Heidelberg!!