June 28, 2009

Travel Log: Heidelberg, Germany (June 2009)

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Just 4 weeks and 1 day after returning from the coastline and jungle of Belize, it was time to venture beyond the familiar confines of the USA again. This time the destination is Heidelberg, Germany for 2+ jam packed days with colleagues literately from all corners of the world (UK, Russia, India, Argentina, Portugal, Denmark, Austria, Romania and more). It was a fantastic opportunity similar to our international "summit" in Heidelberg in Sep 2006 and Milan, Italy in April 2008. Last time in Heidelberg I was only in town for 4 nights, this time I decided to make the most of it - and spent a lot of late nights in 4 short weeks preparing for the summit as well as mapping out an extra week of exploring southern Germany with T.

In Heidelberg, I stayed with most colleagues in the
Kulturbrauerei - a hotel in historic old town with a brewery - How cool is that? (would have been cooler if the rooms had a/c or at least a fan; several of us can attest that voices carry well between the walls of the narrow streets - particularly late at night; this hotel was good, but would be great in cooler weather).

After work wrapped up on Thursday I enjoyed a ~7 km run along the Neckar River, power nap, quick dinner and caught up with coworkers still in town for a half liter at "The Distille"; followed by an obligatory trip to The Cave. What happens in The Cave, stays in The Cave!

It took a little extra effort to get rolling Friday morning, but did - and connected with Steve from the Toronto office. We trekked up the Neckar River ~28km through a couple little towns, past some more castle ruins, through a corn field, ship yard en route to our destination - Hirschhorn. I must confess we had to push our bikes up a steep hill to reach the Hirschhorn castle. Wonderful view. We zipped back down the hill & caught a train to Heidelberg - we were feeling beat, plus there was a good chance Therece (aka "T") was going to be arriving on the 3pm train (she didn't arrive until 4:30 - and via bus, not train! - that's another story for her to share).

I shared the sights and tastes I've become familiar with in old town Heidelberg w/ T. Highlights included dinner (w/ Steve) Friday evening in the Rathaus (city hall) square, photo ops on the old bridge, a Sat morning rainy tour of the castle ruins (the French literately blew the defensive fortifications apart in March 1693, and burnt 99% of Heidelberg to the ground for good measure; lightening took care of the castle living quarters in 1764; after 400+ years of growth, it was never inhabited again),
window shopping along HauptStraße, a cruise on the Neckar in a solar powered boat (largest of it's kind) and a late dinner by the old bridge at "Goldener Hecht" with 2 jovial musicians entertaining the crowd while we washed down some bratwurst, potatoes & saurkraut with Heiferweisen ("hecht" is pike in German, I didn't see any pike on the menu!).

In all, we had a great time. Heidelberg is a beautiful historic town. As I learned through 2 visits and T in 2 days, it is a great place to get inducted into the German culture - while there is still ample English available to help you along.

After another traditional German Frühstück (breakfast) with breads and sliced meats at Kulturbrauerei Sunday morning, one last trip to the old bridge and stroll through the cobblestone streets, we caught a cab to the train station for our next stop... The Black Forest!

1 comment:

David B. Thomas said...

Nice wrap up, Mark. And that photo of the Alte Bruecke is spectacular.