Oh, Heidelberg! how I loathe thee...

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Europe » Germany » Baden-Württemberg » Heidelberg
September 6th 2011
Published: September 23rd 2011
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What do I want?
What will make me happy?
Nothing, nothing, nothing

Hüsker Dü

Heidelberg has something to offer for everyone:

If you're a Chinese tourist, you don't have to go out of your way to experience the town's gorgeous two sights. Just stay in line, follow the group and listen to the tour guide's elaborate explanations. Try to take at least 700 photos in two hours. Locals are just there for decorative purposes, so stare and point at the ones that are either very tall or very hairy and shove your oversized lens in their faces. When the guide recommends a certain type of chocolate, you better buy lots to give him or her some face. To wrap up the visit, join the group at the town's best Chinese restaurant, where the owner will make sure your guide gets a decent commission and you the Middle Kingdom's finest specialties, while the whiteys get the usual oily scraps.

If you're a Korean tourist, make sure to wear those big black-framed retro glasses that cover three quarters of your face, so that everybody can immediately recognize you as Korean. Apart from that, behave in a similar fashion as the Chinese tourists.

If you're an elderly German tourist, you've got several options. You can visit Heidelberg with your spouse only, or with another elderly couple you're friends with. Wander around, take your time, don't walk in a straight line, stop abruptly and stand in the way of others a lot. Then go for coffee and cake for a few hours. Then stand in the way again. If you're in a tour group with other old Germans, the ability to stand in the way increases manifold. Combine forces to block off whole footpaths, bike lanes, alleys and staircases. Interrupt the tour guide's spiel to tell a long-winded story from your happy times as a phrenology student in Heidelberg in 1928.

If you're a middle-aged, posh female Spanish tourist, go to the best bakery in town. Tell the Asian shop assistant what you want in Spanish. When she doesn't understand and talks back to you in English, offering you the possibility of communicating in one of the most common languages, roll your eyes, bitch about her to your spoiled teenage kids and try again, speaking a little louder than before, so she can hear you better. If that fails, point at the baked goods you would like to purchase. When the shop assistant asks "that one?", don't answer with "yes", say "sí, eso con chocolate", for los Reyes Católicos didn't get rid of those stinking Moors for you to utter but a word of any foreign bastard tongue.

If you're a 17-year old from the US and A, and it is your first time out of your country (Tijuana and Vancouver don't count), make sure to go in a big group comprised of like-minded individuals so it's more fun. If you miss home on the second day, go to Starbucks, Subway's or Macas, or better yet, to all of them. If you don't, go anyway. At least you know what you're getting.
Buy a pair of Lederhosen or a Dirndl and some silly hats that look traditional to your untrained eyes at the tacky souvenir shop owned by Italians, and encourage the other members of your group to do so as well, so you're not the only one who looks like a fool. Dress up in your newly-acquired garments and run around the Old Town. Stop every now and then in front of old German tourists to jump and dance. Make sure somebody videos everything and puts it on Youtube later. Hilarious. Also, awesome.
At night, be adventurous and try a German beer. When it arrives, say how awesome it is that you are allowed to order alcohol here. After having finished the beer, tell everybody repeatedly how drunk you are, chant 'U-S-A, U-S-A', then order another one. Drink half of it, mumble something in fake German, then pass out in a pool of your own vomit.

If you're a local or a German female who has moved to Heidelberg for whatever reason, find work in a touristy shop. Always have an annoyed expression on your face, especially when someone talks to you in non-German. Get rid of them using your inadequate English, then complain audibly in German about them to your colleague, who will then go on to insult them based on their race. In the event that a random customer is present who actually speaks German and thus understands your diatribes, get them in on it so they don't call you rude or racist and leave the shop without buying anything.

If you're a Romani/Sinti/Gypsy from Bosnia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Macedonia or Romania, come to Heidelberg for three months during summer. Bring your accordion and crank up the town with that one song they taught you in the seven-day accordion crash course back home. Don't attempt any variation or improvisation, stick to that one trusty, melancholy song, for tourists love it. Don't worry, you can play it for 12 hours straight, day after day. Nobody except the locals will notice, and nobody gives a shit about them anyway. If you're a guy, bring your knocked-up 16 year-old wife or your brother's knocked-up 16 year-old wife to collect the money with a sour expression on her face (who could blame her?) from those willing to donate. If you're a girl, bring a scruffy-looking doggy to melt the heart of those stingy passersby.
If you're female and too old to busk, you can still make yourself useful by sitting on the ground begging for money. Wear a headscarf and rags, bring your little grandson, tell him to play almost dead so you get money for medication or his funeral. Later, get your son to pick you up in his brand-new Mercedes.


Let's all take a little break now and try to figure out if that last paragraph was politically incorrect or not.
Let me take you to the forest around Heidelberg. We cross the Old Bridge over the swift Neckar, walk past the tourist hordes and make our way up the Snake Path or the Philosopher's Path into the forest. Ignore the grim Nordic Walkers, but stay out of their way. They're dangerous and their sticks are lethal! You might wonder why all hikers/walkers/wanderers are clad in Jack Wolfskin-gear. That's how you recognize them as Germans. It holds them together. If you want to play a little prank, sneak up on them and rip off their jacket or hat or backpack. They'll crumble and wither away.
Now that we've lightened up a bit, let's head back down to the Old Town.


If you happen to be a fake-blonde, postmenopausal local lady working in retail, and you're confronted with a customer who says she got this expensive toaster for her birthday, but that the instruction manual was missing, reply with a snappy "That's not possible" while drooping down the corners of your mouth for emphasis. In the unlikely event that said customer persists, roll your eyes, sigh heavily and disappear into the storage area for 15 minutes. Come back with the instruction manual, hand it over to the customer, and don't forget to tell her that "This one is now missing from another box" to give her a bad conscience.

If you're a slightly backwards guy from a village within a radius of 50km of Heidelberg, go there after dark on the weekends! It's the big city after all! Take your equally bone-headed friends along and P-A-R-T-Y? 'Cause you got to. Start drinking on the train, play the most annoying dance, techno or misogynistic German rap music imaginable on your iPhone and molest people who just want to be left in peace.
Head to the Old Town and get completely off your face, scream, shout football chants, for these are the only songs you'll remember at that state, maybe except for monosyllabic onomatopoeic references to the latest Scooter song. Hit on to everything that's remotely female and pick a fight with anything that's remotely male. Piss and vomit on the rest, i.e. trees, flowerpots, doors, steps, cobblestones, monuments, dustbins, cars, bicycles and hermaphrodites. Occasionally take out your shrimpy dick in between
The CastleThe CastleThe Castle

Heidelberg's sight no.1 out of 2
for fun and to prove some mysterious point that only you will understand.
Go eat a döner at 3am, drink some more vodka-red bull, then head to the train station for the first train in the early morning, shouting, singing, screaming, pissing, puking, smashing bottles and breaking random stuff along the way. You did well! Repeat every fucking weekend.

If you're a German business student, prance about town in white pants, mustard-colour Lacoste polo shirt and a pink sweater hanging loosely around your neck. Let everybody know that you had expensive cocktails the other day with somebody who knows a friend of the second cousin of BMW's junior manager, and that he might be able to secure you an unpaid four-week internship that will kickstart your career and lay the foundation for a lavish life of light labour, lust and luxury.

If you're a US soldier based at the military barracks in Heidelberg, you're in luck! You can behave like a complete dick without fear of repercussions, just like that recruiter on the Wal-Mart parking lot in Sandpoint, Idaho or Bentonville, Arkansas promised. Represent your country in an adequate fashion by purchasing an oversized SUV and owning those
The Old BridgeThe Old BridgeThe Old Bridge

Heidelberg's sight no.2 out of 2
German suckers with their silly eco-friendly miniature cars on the road. Walk around in your uniform a lot so those arrogant Yuro-peons know who the occupying power is and respect your authoritae. You can be just as monolingual as back home, most Germans will speak at least a bit of English, plus learning languages is for fags anyway, and we all know what God does to those guys, don't we? On the weekends, behave like those Germans coming in from the surrounding villages.
After two years of imperialist fun and games, settle down and spawn a bunch of military brats with that Lynndie England-lookalike from two blocks away. Don't worry, they can go to 'merican school later, no need for them to learn German either or have their precious culture diluted by hanging out too much with local kids.

If you're a pre-retirement red-faced local male with a moustache and beer belly, make it your task to interfere in other people's business. Stop cyclists in the pedestrian precinct, scream "That's illegal, I'll call the police!" at them even when they did 5km/h and didn't look like a potential threat to non-cyclists. Observe people's recycling habits. Stop them if they are about to throw brown glass into the white glass recycling bin, for nature didn't intend those colours to mix! If you see someone in the streets who looks different (let's say somebody with tattoos and/or piercings or an unusual haircut) but doesn't break any rule you could think of, stare them hard and disapprovingly into the eyes, so they know that 70 years ago, the Gestapo would have taken care of them. Do your best to make life miserable for others to make yourself feel superior and distract from your own woeful existence, for it's the German way!

If you've just started your studies in Heidelberg, and you're somewhere between very conservative and ultra right-wing, join a Burschenschaft! (student corps/fraternity) That is, only if you're white, male and German. Don't worry, you can be fat, ugly, pimply, miopic, auto-aggressive and socially retarded. In fact, you'll feel very much at home if you are! After the rather painful ritual induction flogging, join your more experienced brethren in the communal drinking game. Don't be sad if you puke after the third beer and shit your pants after the fifth, you'll get better eventually, and at least you made your new
Asian tour group flocking to the chocolate shopAsian tour group flocking to the chocolate shopAsian tour group flocking to the chocolate shop

After seeing the two sights that Heidelberg has to offer, tour groups are then ushered to the chocolate shop and coerced into buying the famous Studentenkuss, a praliné that has been made in Heidelberg for at least 1,000 years
friends laugh.
Further your political awareness by attending lectures and debates where you'll learn all about the Jewish World Conspiracy™, the inferiority of negroes and women as well as the exploits of Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm II. Even if you don't understand why and where exactly they are located, vow to give your life wrenching Elsass-Lothringen from the claws of the French bâtards, East Prussia and Danzig from those stinking Polish thieves and Königsberg from those bloody Bolsheviks.
On Saturdays, shine your shoes, put on your uniform, complete with hat and sash, and parade around town in a small group. Try to appear worldly and benevolent, that is, better shut up and let the propaganda minister do the talking.

If you're Mark Twain, go visit Heidelberg, write an oddly lengthy and uncharacteristically boring account of your stay there. Write that the town is ugly by day and picturesque by night, but only from your expensive hotel towering above the castle. Crap on and on about the German's obsessive politeness, cleanliness, punctuality, discipline and diligence. Complain about the awful German language. Write in exhaustive detail about everything remotely connected to the topic of student fraternities. Attend a bloody fraternity fencing
Asian couple doing fishy kissAsian couple doing fishy kissAsian couple doing fishy kiss

Before or after consuming the chocolate, most couples will have their picture taken in this posture
night. Be repulsed but strangely fascinated by it. Take endless walks in the beautiful forest and flee from crows who are laughing about you.

Let's assume you're a mildly modified passionate traveller who has just entered the second third of his life, but who's still sort of unsure what to make of it; who's somewhat idealistic but has grown increasingly disillusioned, yet ought not to, for his own sake, be concentrating solely on the negative aspects of life; who's in search of some cultural diversity and linguistic challenges and generally speaking just wants to make the most of it while he still can. If you happen to get stuck in Heidelberg, and you've tried your best, for months and months, to kind of adapt and get used to it, but failed miserably, get the fuck out of there before they crush your mind and poison your soul. There's nothing for you there. Keep running, keep moving and keep searching, maybe one day you'll find what you were looking for.

Additional photos below
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23rd September 2011

This brings back memories. :)
I lived in and worked in Heidleburg for 6 months, when I was 22.
25th September 2011

A great misanthropic rant
You could be describing any multitude of places if you just changed the city name. It's tragic how redundant the world can become regarding locals and tourists. At the same time, with a sense of humor, it's hilarious how people predictably fall into stereotypes more snugly than Cinderella in her glass slippers. Enjoyed the writing!
25th September 2011

Thanks for the feedback, Michelle, it's very much appreciated! It's true what you wrote, and I don't think I ever want to live again in a place that touristy. I' d rather travel myself and be a bit less conspicuous but more respectful than the average tourist in Heidelberg.
25th December 2011

The first of your blogs I've read after seeing this on Michelle's recommendations of 2011. What can I say?......I loved it.
28th December 2011

Wow, thanks for the kind words, Anastasia! It's always nice to get feedback, especially from such a talented blogger like you! :) I wasn't even aware that I'm a recommended blogger of 2011, not bad!

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