Heidelberg

Day 3 (Saturday)

It felt like I had only been in bed for a few seconds when I heard my phone alarm going off at 7:30 a.m. I got up, got dressed, and stumbled downstairs where several others were already eating breakfast. Everyone still looked quite tired, but a full night’s sleep and long showers did us all some good.

There were a few people in charge of planning each day, and so it had been decided that we would all go to the Heidelberg castle at 9:30. Upon arriving at the entrance to the castle, we could already see most of the city and knew the view would be spectacular from the top. After the Tronts paid to get us in and we continued climbing the stone path, I climbed up on a ledge and the entire group soon followed. The view was marvelous and we stayed there for about 15 minutes taking pictures, including group shot shown on the first page.  I brought my phone as a camera, and this is where I took the two photos that were stitched together to make this website’s header. (Almost all the pictures on this site were taken with my phone.) When it came time to get down, most of the girls were scared to jump, so Kevin acted as the group’s trusty elevator and lowered them all down by their arms, one by one.  I almost convinced Meghan Heuser to do a trust fall off of the 7-foot ledge, but unfortunately she backed out.


After a few hours of exploring the castle, the day's group leaders decided to have a picnic in a grassy, park-like area behind the castle. We were all relieved to sit down (or play Ninja, as the case may be) while we waited for the Tronts and Nicole to bring the food, and we proceeded to enjoy a fabulous lunch of pretzels, loaves of bread, and several varieties of meats and cheeses. After lunch, we hiked a little ways up the hill behind the castle (until it was blocked off due to some sort of construction), caught a few tadpoles in a fountain, and eventually headed back to the hotel.

After we got back from the castle, several of us wandered around, exploring Heidelberg. I had to go to the bank because I had forgotten my wallet the previous day, and then I bought my first souvenir: a pipe. We walked around for 45 minutes or so, and then hung out at the hotel until dinner.

I had filled up my phone’s memory card with pictures at the castle, so back at the hotel I transferred them to my computer. Unfortunately the USB port on my phone was messed up, so I had to upload all my pictures to Dropbox. This took quite a while, but I was just very thankful to have free wireless internet. I also took a few minutes to get on Facebook and text my parents using Google Voice so they knew I was alive.

I also found out that I was tasked with planning the following day along with Anne, Natalia, and Meghan Chaney. We met to discuss some of our ideas, but didn’t have much time to plan before dinner.

Apparently finding a place that can sit 25 people together isn't easy, but eventually the group leaders found a place. It was called Schmidtz, and was very modern-looking. I ordered Bavarian sausages (which came with a soft pretzel), not realizing that it was the same white sausage I had ordered the night before! Fortunately it was just as delicious, and after tasting/finishing a couple other people’s dishes I had no regrets. After dinner we went back to the hotel briefly, and the four of us planning the next day met for a little while. After about half an hour, most of us headed out for the night. We had a great time, but didn’t stay out too late because we had to meet the next morning at around 8:00.


Day 4 (Sunday)

The next morning, all 22 of us students went on the Philosopher’s Walk (or “Philosophenweg”), which was an oval-shaped path that went about half way up the mountainside across the old bridge. My legs were very sore from the past few days, and the climb was very steep, but the view and the fresh air were most definitely worth it.

We had hoped to rent bicycles that afternoon and bike around the city, but rainclouds were quickly forming and we knew that wasn’t going to happen. Instead, we conducted a photo-scavenger hunt that consisted of specific landmarks within a few blocks of the hotel as well as some open-ended challenges that allowed room for creativity. I was teamed with Marc and Maria, and despite everyone's exhaustion we managed to find most of the items.
 
The view from across the Old Bridge
After the scavenger hunt we all got lunch. About I went with about ten others to a little place where I got pizza and fries. The fries were about the same as what I was used to, but the pizza’s four or five different kinds of meats tasted quite different than anything I had had before. It was very good, and after we finished we went back to the hotel for our scavenger hunt “presentations.”

After the presentations Anne, Natalia, Meghan and I announced that everyone could choose between going hiking (to the top of the same mountain as the Philosopher’s Walk) or going to see the University of Heidelberg’s “Student Prison” as well as the boats going up the locks further up the Neckar. It ended up being a pretty even split, and I went with the group who went hiking.

The very first part of the hike was the same as the first half of the Philosopher’s Walk, but after that we continued on for about an hour. We were planning on trying to find a tower that we had been able to see all the way from the castle the day before, but instead we stumbled some sort of amphitheater. We speculated at what kind of sporting events it might have been used for a few hundred years ago, but upon later research I discovered that it is a “Thingstätte” that students built around 1935 for Nazi gatherings. We climbed the Thingstätte and continued on to where we found a couple of towers with some ruins around them. I have since learned that these are the ruins of St. Michael’s Monastery, built in 1023.

We met back at the hotel at 6:00, and instead of going to the “biergarten” we had planned on going to, we changed plans at the last minute and went to a restaurant called Vetter. I ordered a large dish of liver and other foods I planned on splitting with Marc and Karl, but the waitress misunderstood and delivered a giant meat platter with about 8 different types of sausage and a bunch of potatoes. Karl was quite disappointed that he missed out on the cultural experience of the original dish, but I couldn’t have been happier. I love potatoes and all the meats were delicious, so I had no problem with it. The waitress felt bad, however, and brought us a small complementary dish of the foods we had originally ordered. After eating some of the liver, I was even more content with the meat and potatoes.

After dinner we enjoyed one last night out on the town, and eventually headed back to the hotel, looking forward to our first company visit the next morning.

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