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Published: April 21st 2019
We ended our short, whirlwind stay in Frankfurt yesterday morning when a pre-arranged car service met us at our hotel at 10:00 AM for the 50-mile-drive to Heidelberg. Although the time in Frankfurt was short, we take with us pleasant memories of this city, with its mixture of old and new. Both of us were impressed by the tidy and well-ordered nature of this vibrant metropolis, and our hotel experience was an unexpected plus (probably the last generation of small, family-owned hotels, where personal service is still a priority).
We had a bit of a welcoming committee when we arrived in Heidelberg (pop. 160,000), a city on the banks of the Neckar River that is famous for its university (founded 1386), and for the castle ruins perched upon a hill above the Altstadt (old section of the city). When we were within hailing distance of our apartment, two armed police officers (in full regalia) tapped on the window of the taxi as we were stopped at a light, then directed our driver to pullover at the next intersection. It seems the driver had inadvertently driven through a lane reserved for busses a few blocks back, which apparently violated some sort
of traffic ordinance, so the officers felt "duty-bound" to issue a citation.
For the next 15-minutes, our poor driver (a Pakistani who has resided in Frankfurt for 28 years) was pestered by the officers to show his credentials (license, registration, etc.) before they were convinced he was not some sort of villain (Dee and I think he was profiled from the get-go). To his credit, our driver was calm and polite throughout the ordeal, and we finally continued to our apartment. The unlucky driver explained to us that this was the first blemish on his driving record in all the years he's been driving in Germany, and in addition to a fine, he was assessed points on his license. We felt truly sorry for him.
The apartment owner, a very kind and personable Irishman, gave us a most gracious welcome and orientation tour. It's a very clean, nicely furnished, spacious, ground-floor living space located just a block south of the river, and a short distance away from the famous Alte Brücke (Old Bridge). The current bridge, made of Neckar sandstone, was originally built in 1788, and is one of the best-known landmarks and tourist destinations in Heidelberg.
Viewed from the Alte Brücke
Shortly after arriving at the apartment, we ventured out amongst the crowds for lunch in the Marktplatz; then Dee bought enough groceries at a local store to tide us over for a few days, as the stores will be closed for the next two days.
Today, Easter Sunday, we strolled around the Altstadt some more, reaching the Alte Brücke for some views of the castle and the Neckar River. Unfortunately, the tower gate at the south end of the bridge is partially obscured due to renovation work, but we enjoyed the views nonetheless.
Dee posed for a photo beside the so-called Heidelberg Bridge Monkey, which dates back to the 15th century. It was a stone statue sitting in the tower of the Old Bridge to instill fear and respect in anyone arriving in the town, while the monkey represented mockery. The original statue was destroyed with the tower during the Nine Years' War. The purpose of the mirror in the monkey’s hand was to encourage people to engage in critical self-reflection.
A poem written by Martin Zeiller in the 17th-century can still be seen beside today’s bronze version of the monkey erected in 1979: “Why are you
staring at me? Haven’t you seen the old monkey in Heidelberg? Look around and you probably will see – more monkeys like me!” Today, the statue is a popular tourist attraction. Legend has it that if a visitor touches the sign of horns, they will return to Heidelberg. If a visitor touches the mirror, they will become wealthy, and if they touch the mice next to the monkey, they will have many children. (Source: Wikipedia)
After some time spent on and near the bridge, we decided to make a drink stop at a nearby bar recommended by our apartment owner. We spent the next hour or so nursing a gin and tonic for me, and 2 small glasses of a delicious white Riesling wine that Dee ordered. The weather being absolutely gorgeous (77 degrees F.), our seats at an outside table served as the perfect viewing platform for people watching, passers-by as well as diners at nearby tables. It was a fascinating and relaxing way to spend the afternoon! Dee's Comments:
Up early yesterday morning to prepare for our ride to Heidelberg at 10 AM. We were there in less than an hour, but hit a snag when
The Heidelberg Bridge Monkey
South end of the Alte Brücke
our driver was pulled over (see Mitch's commentary, above). I personally believe the police needed to make their "quota" by citing him for such a trivial offense. We settled into our apartment, which is a very nice place, including a patio and garden in back...our own little paradise!
Later, off to buy some groceries and lunch, where the portions were enough to serve 4 people - we brought most of our meals home! Picked-up a few things at the small grocery store nearby, seeing that stores will be closed for the Easter holidays here. The apartment is so workable, with the outside patio providing a peaceful spot to relax at the end of the day.
Today, Easter Sunday, woke up to more glorious weather; walked to the Old Bridge and watched several boys trolling or fishing for something with a large metal hook attached to a rope. Turned out they were salvaging a bicycle that looked like a rusted hulk when they finally brought it out of the water...LOL, I thought they were fishing! Then off for some drinks at a nice cafe; busy streets on Easter, with everything but bars and restaurants closed (by local law). We
had great fun people watching as we sipped our drinks while enjoying each other's company; then back to the apartment to sit outside, enjoy some sunshine and read a book.
P.S. Proud of myself today that I figured out the clothes washer all by myself!
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