A January 2004 trip
to Heidelberg by zabelle
Quote: Even if you have no interest in its university, Heidelberg has enough charm to win your heart. This is a great walking city that's visually very appealing. src= http://www.igougo.com/photos/journal_photos/Im004599.jpg width =300 height=200 >
We drove from Frankfurt to Heidelberg with two stops: one at Speyer and one at Wiesloch. Speyer is easy to explain: it has a fabulous cathedral and some very interesting museums. Wiesloch is the wild card. I am 1/64th German, and my ancestor Johann Becker was born in Wiesloch, so I couldn’t come this close and not visit the town. I was not disappointed, except for the fact that there was a service going on in the Catholic church, so we were not able to walk around and maybe see the baptismal font, but it is a typically pretty village and I was very happy to have made the attempt.
Our visit to Heidelberg gave us only one full day, Monday. If you are a European visitor, you will understand that in many ways this is the worst possible day to visit any town since it is the day when most museums are closed. Luckily, the schloss and its wonderful pedestrian zone can keep any visitor fully occupied, even on a Monday.
2. Haupstrasse- This is the main shopping street in Heidelberg and is a pedestrian zone. It begins at the market square and ends at the Kornmarket, right below the schloss.
3. The University - The most famous landmark in Heidelberg is the university. The original is over 800 years old, and they had the finest library in the world before the 30 Years War, when it was removed to the Vatican and has never been returned. The university still draws students from all over the world.
We wandered our way down the Haupstrausse and made several stops in the tantalizing shops. One that has two locations on the Haupstrasse is Kathe Wohlfahrt. These shops offer all things Christmas, from hand-carved ornaments to delectable linens. The quality is high and the staff is knowledgeable. If you can't get to Heidelburg you can order from their online store at www.bestofchristmas.com
The Haupstrasse is a pedestrian zone, so you really can’t take your car there. There is a funicular up to the schloss, but it was closed for renovation in January. It is a 310-step climb up the side of the mountain to reach the Schloss from the Kornmarkt. We walked both up and down. This probably explains why we didn’t gain any weight on vacation even though we threw caution to the wind.
Hotel | "Crown Plaza"
Our rooms were very good-sized and decorated with beautiful red bedding
and curtains. Our television had a welcoming message on it when we entered the room. My favorite, though, was the fresh rose in the bathroom--what a nice touch.
The room was equipped with everything you will need for a pleasant visit. A minibar, safe, two bathrobes (which come in handy for visiting the pool, sauna, steamroom, and hot tub), slippers, king-size bed with two featherbeds, extra bedding, iron and ironing board, three chairs, a desk, TV with the usual two English-speaking channels, great lighting, deep tub, pants press and even a clothes line in the bathroom. There is a coffee maker with a selection of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, as well as some biscuits. There are even bottles of complimentary mineral water. A very clean and pleasant room indeed.
A warning about the steam room and sauna: Bathing suits are optional; actually, they are discouraged. If you must cover up, you are given a towel to walk through the pool area. There is an open arch between the whirlpool and the suits-optional area. If you don't want any unwanted visual reminders of Heidelberg, I suggest you sit in the Jacuzzi with your back to the arch. It's what I did after Al warned me.
Our rate of 103 euros included a buffet breakfast, and there were always English-language newspapers available in the lobby, as well as the restaurant. This was a very nice breakfast buffet
where you could make your own waffles, which I did one day, and there were also crepes, bacon, fried, boiled, and scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, sausage, a variety of cheeses and cold meats, smoked salmon, yogurt, rolls, croissants, bread to toast, eight juices, and more. The only thing missing was whole fresh fruit--there was cut-up fruit and canned fruit, but no whole fresh. They delivered a carafe of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate to your table. There was champagne available for anyone who wanted to splurge at breakfast.
The business center offered free Internet access 24 hours a day. They have their own parking garage, and parking was 16 euros a day. We ate in both restaurants and were very pleased. The hotel is located within 5 blocks of the pedestrian zone and has easy access back onto the autobahn.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 27, 2004
Crowne Plaza Heidelberg
KURFUERSTEN ANLAGE 1
We began our meal with roasted apple and red bell pepper soup.
Dressed with thyme chantilly, it is an inspired combination, rich and a little sweet, with just the right amount of tartness from the apples.
Al had a Caesar salad to start, and it came in a basket made from Parmesan cheese that was as pretty as it was delicious.
The bread basket here was worth commenting on. It offered three choices of really crispy bread and two types of butter, one plain and one flavored with chives. We needed to have it refilled, and it was.
Joe and I chose the seared barbarie duck breast
with roast pearl barley, red cabbage braised with apple, and lavender au jus. That was a mouthful, and believe me, my mouth was full throughout the entire meal. It was delicious; the duck was very flavorful and moist, and the red cabbage and apple was just as good as it sounds. I even found that I enjoyed the creamy pearl barley, especially with the lavender au jus. The meals were all very visually appealing as well.
Al had grilled Argentinean beef tenderloin with creamed polenta and Cajun butter. He didn’t leave anything on his plate, which I think speaks for itself. The tenderloin was so tender, it literally melted in your mouth.
The menu here was eclectic, and if we must judge by what we ordered, the meals are all excellent. They offer selections as varied as grilled venison, guinea fowl, farfalle with chorizo, caramelized Atlantic salmon, and ravioli crepes.
We finished our meal with coffee and decaf, and we wished we had had room for their excellent dessert selection. The restaurant is closed on Mondays, so unfortunately, we were not able to repeat our wonderful experience.
This is a very pretty bar, done in the same blues and silver that decorate the lobby and the Westcoast Restaurant. The whole bar is smoking, so we just picked a spot that we hoped would expose us to the least possible amount of dsmoke. It worked well. There is a nice selection of snacks on the table that you may enjoy while you peruse the menu: nuts and two types of light chips. We were particularly happy to see the same bread basket and flavored butter that we had so loved at Westcoast turn up also at Gaudeamus.
The choices were mostly for local German favorites. Al and Bob choose pork steak, which came with baked potato and coleslaw. The coleslaw here was grated carrots with a sweet-tasting dressing. You have your choice of sauce, and Al chose pan sauce, Bob got the cognac, and I had the sauerbraten with red cabbage and potato dumplings. These were actually very tasty fried dumplings, not the soggy balls that we see mostly everywhere else. The sauerbraten was tender and the sauce delicious. Joe had the ribeye steak with fried potatoes. The food was surprisingly good here; we hadn’t expected much and were delightfully surprised.
Of course, we drank some German Pils, and we finished with coffee and dessert. Bob and Joe had the berry compote with marscapone cream--it was fabulous, and I was terribly jealous that I hadn’t ordered it. I chose the caramelized apple crepe with vanilla ice cream because I wanted Al to share it with me. It was yummy, but to our taste, a little too sweet. They were both beautifully presented, ours with a topping of spun sugar.
The prices at Gaudaemus are quite a bit cheaper than at Westcoast. We had a very nice dinner for 29 euros for the two of us.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 27, 2004
Attraction | "Schloss Heidelberg"
you can well imagine that this was done to intimidate the enemy. I certainly was intimidated by the thought of walking up all 310 knee crunching stairs!
You can stroll the gardens for free, but you need to purchase a ticket to enter the courtyard of the castle. The ticket was €2. This gets you into the pharmaceutical museum, the exhibit on the Middle Ages and the Age of Romance, and the hall where the giant wine vats are located. If you want to see the interior rooms, you need to go on a guided tour at an additional cost of €3. We took the 2:15pm tour in English.
You will need at least half a day to do the castle justice. The exhibit on the Middle Ages on the first floor has displays in English, so it is enjoyable to visit. There are displays covering the history of Heidelberg and its rulers and a very nice suit of armor.
Upstairs, the exhibit on the Romantic age centers on Heidelberg in the arts. You can see drawings, paintings, and poetry, and if you have a few minutes, you can sit and listen to music.
The Pharmaceutical Museum offers an interesting display on the history of medicine, pharmacology in particular. I was fascinated by the display telling about the medical school in Salerno, Italy, where, in the 11th century, ancient medicine was taught to clerics and laymen, Christians and Muslims, and even women. Who would have imagined that! There are displays of pharmacies from the Middle Ages on a very interesting stop.
Our guide Kunegunde met us in the hallway of the building with the Middle Ages display. We are taken into another part of the building and familiarized with the history of the castle and why it became a ruin. There is no love of France displayed in this room since Louis XIV is the cause of the downfall of the schloss. We get to go through rooms decorated in a lavish style, as well as to walk up cold and slippery stairs to the turrets.
This is where all the interesting facts will fascinate you. You will walk on the terrace overlooking the old and the new moat and hear stories of hunting in the moat. This schloss is also a love story between a German prince and an English princess. The gate in the garden and even the gardens themselves are a tribute to that love.
If you need a food break, there is a café where you can purchase a snack or a small meal. We stopped for hot chocolate and cake. Considering that we were a very captive audience, the prices were competitive and the food quite good and very welcome on a cold and snowy day.
Heidelberg Castle (Heidelberger Schloss)
Heidelberg, Germany 69115
I feel terrible that we weren’t able to give Speyer the full day that it deserves. There were some fascinating museums that we were not able to visit. We had discussed with Becks which city we should visit as we traveled south; we had narrowed it down to Worms and Speyer. His vote for Speyer was the deciding factor.
There is great public parking in Speyer. It is "pay and display," so make sure you find the machine. If you are lucky, someone will be leaving at the time that you arrive and give you their ticket. This happened to us, and we passed our ticket on to someone when we left. It is an easy walk to the cathedral.
The Kaiserdom is one of the most impressive cathedrals I have ever seen. Done in the Romanesque style, it is almost stark in its simplicity. There is no ancient carved choir stalls here; everything is very new, and I thought, very ugly. Yet, to some extent, it must be the most perfect example of what the interior would have looked like 600 years ago. The pews are metal, modern, and portable, and I could picture the cathedral so easily with them removed and all the medieval people standing in the vast open space.
For a peaceful moment, slip into the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament. The crypt is an amazing place. It houses the royal vault and four Holy Roman emperors and four German kings are buried here. The one you won’t want to miss is Rudolf of Hapsburg. Because it was January, there was the most amazing nativity scene that I have ever seen. People were literally in line three-deep to see it.
The treasure of the cathedral is housed in the Historisches Museum , which is just down the street.
There is a small gift shop along the way you will need to travel.
A large part of the history museum was closed for renovation, but if you have children, there was a Play Mobile exhibit that covered two floors of the museum, where there were what seemed like millions of kids. The treasury was still open, and we had to pay full price to visit only it. I entrance was, I believe, €8. You need to go to the basement for this exhibit, and the high points are all the items removed from the royal graves at the Kaiserdom. You can see the crown of Konrad, as well as hair sample of him and his wife, Gisela. There are little holes in the wall that you look through to see the skull and bones
and I think I did a good job of lining my camera up with the hole. Our problem was that there was no English guide, no English booklet, and no English commentary. No wonder my German is improving. Would I pay this price again? No, not unless the rest of the museum is open.