After a whirlwind week of road tripping from München to Bad Kötzting and then to Neuschwanstein in Schwangau, I was ready for a solo retreat to Heidelberg.
Heidelberg’s official song “Ich Hab’ mein Herz in Heidelberg Verloren” translates to “I lost my heart in Heidelberg” and was first recorded in 1925 by Fred Raymond. This schlager version came later and can be heard all over town.
Between the two main bridges, Theodore Heuss Brücke and the Alte Brücke, the area is known as the Alt Stadt (old town). Views from both bridges and along the banks of the Neckar River are stunning.
Hotel Goldener Hecht is located right at the entrance of the Alte Brücke. Primo location.
The Heidelberg Schloß (castle) is the most notorious landmark in the city, and one of the most famous castles in the world.
It was a short walk from the hotel to the Fußweg leading to the mountain. You can walk up the trail for free, but mein Herz was really set on taking the funicular. I bought a ticket at the station and waited to board. Turns out you first have to take a modern train to the castle, but there is a connection platform at that station to board the funicular and go all the way to the top, to the Königstuhl (king’s seat).
Once inside the courtyard, there is the Deutsche Apotheke Museum, a few restaurants, and the largest wine barrel in the world which holds nearly 60,000 gallons.
As you leave the courtyard and walk toward the garden, you have a great view of the towers.
Now to go all the way up the Heiligenberg.
At Königstuhl you are 1,804 feet above sea level and 1,436 feet above the city.
Station Königstuhl has a small outdoor cafe, the Tinnunculus falcon viewing park , the Forest Adventure nature park, the Fairytale Paradise park, an exhibit on the Bergbahn, and some other interesting looking places I did not dare enter. However, I found the Maschinenraum below the station and got to check out all the gears and levers as they were cranking and pulling.
After about an hour up at Königstuhl I was freezing and droplets of water on my coat started turning into ice, so I made my way back down to the city.
Steingasse (Stonegarden) is the short street that begins at the Alte Brücke gate, meets the patio of Goldener Hecht, and stretches another block or so until it intersects with Haupstrasse. Like most streets in the Alt Stadt, it is cobblestone, and in that short block there are numerous cafes, restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and bakeries.
I had dinner at a place with no sign, but they were blasting Dr. Dre and gave me something called “The Heavy Breather” so my suspicions were thoroughly quelled.
Rumour has it that Vetter Brauhaus has won awards worldwide for having the strongest content beer in the world, upwards of 33%. After a liter of helles, the barmeister was nudging me to try their other brews. We had been joking that since I was only a few doors down from my hotel, I could just tie a rope around my door and hang on to the other end if things got hazy.
The next morning I set out early on Haupstraße, one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe. It begins near the Karlstor and leads all the way through Alt Stadt to Bismarckplatz, around 1.5 miles. The sun had just come up and I was in search of some Milchkaffee, but fell into a pastry trap. They were selling fresh Bienenstich for crying out loud. Bienenstich!
More views from the Theodor Heuss Brücke and Alte Brücke
Later I had lunch at a place called Bierbrezel. My #foodgoals for the day had been to find Rahmschnitzel, and it came with salad and spätzle. I opted in for the Moroccan mint tea service.
Just outside the window is the Heiliggeistkirche, open for free inside tours.
From the busy hub of Bismarckplatz, where Hauptstraße reaches the Theodor Heuss Brücke, you can reach the beginning stairs of the 1.5 mile Philosophenweg nature walk. The trail follows along the Neckar River from an elevated curve in the mountain, offering a wider perspective of the city.
The historic Heidelberg University was built in the late 1300s and remains one of the most prestigious academic and scientific centers in Germany and worldwide. Campus architecture is gorgeous.
The Studentenkarzer was first used as a jail for misbehaving university students as early as the 1600s. Being jailed became a rite of passage for many students and the jail inevitably turned into a party house, but the building has been maintained as a historical museum. Walls are covered with art and writing from previous detainees and the bed frames, desks, and iron bars are still in place.
Somehow I lost track of time and the next thing I knew, more than 14 hours had passed since I first set out on foot. For a late dinner I went to Goldener Hecht’s restaurant and had Wurst’l, Bratkartoffeln, Weinkraut, and a Jever. Then I went for one last walk around the city.
Good night Heidelberg, schön war’s.