Guess standing in queue from 9:30 AM to 2:PM for the Schengan Visa was worth it...since I did have the most wonderful time on my recent holiday.
With a brief stop at Dover to see the famous White Cliffs, we took the ferry to cross the channel over to Calais, France.
On the ferry, we had this one seagull that kept following us…and I was reminded of the Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I tried throwing small pieces of Pooran Poli at it and you should have seen it flying backwards to catch it. Then an Italian guy started feeding the gull from his hand! My friends tried that and each time the gull would swoop close, grab the food and be gone! Amazing sight. I was too scared but finally I gathered some courage... I took a biggish piece of the Pooran Poli and held it out…everyone was like…he’s not going to be able to eat that! But he took it from my hand and then went to the side of the ferry and dropped it there and started eating it bit by bit...whoever said that gulls are stupid is stupid!
After an overnight stay at Ludwigsburg, we started early next morning towards Heidelberg on the river Neckar. We had a walking tour of the old part of the town – Altstadt (Old Town in German). It was beautiful with its cobbles, church bells and gorgeous architecture.
The first stop was the Old Bridge. At the gate of the bridge is a bronze sculpture of the Bridge Monkey holding a mirror in his left hand and with a sly smile on his face. The plaque next to the statue reads:
"Why are you looking at me? Haven't you seen the monkey in Heidelberg? Look around and you will probably see, more monkeys like me."
Crazy German humour? Not really …it means that Heidelberg is a city with visitors from all over the world, of different cultures, religions and nationalities. So don't stare – coz for somebody out there you're an exotic monkey, too! The touristy-thing to do is to stick your head inside the monkey's mask and take a picture, which of course we did!
The bridge itself originally was wooden. But now it’s made of red sandstone as the former wooden constructions were frequently destroyed because of high waters. It has 9 elegant arches and as you walk across the bridge there are sculptures on the left side representing the four icons of the most important rivers in this area: "Rhein", "Neckar", "Mosel" and "Donau", as well as the builder-owner Carl Theodor. On the south end of the bridge was a huge doorway, built in the 15th century.
From the bridge itself you get the first glimpse of the Heidelberg castle. It has a museum inside it, many parts of which were closed for restoration so we decided to give a miss going up to see it.
The next stop was the beautiful statue of the Madonna at the Grain Market ("Kornmarkt") square. Restaurants and cafes surround the square. In the middle of the square is a beautiful statue of the Madonna. It demonstrates three typical characteristics of this period: Mary is shown as the Queen of Heaven, as a virgin and as a victor.
Heidelberg is most visited for its University. Heidelberg University is ranked No 1 in Germany and has students from all over the world.
Other stops included the The Heilig Geist Church and The Hotel Ritter – one of the oldest hotels in the world. The brownish building in the pic below is the Hotel Ritter.
Heidelberg has a certain romanticism about it and was patronized by many poets.
One of the most well-known "odes" to Heidelberg is the song "I've lost my heart in Heidelberg". Its English translation is as follows –
"I lost my heart in Heidelberg on a balmy summer night.
In love head over heels, oh were she all mine
And like a rose, her laughing mouth my light as by the gates she said: good-bye.
That last sweet kiss, it did confirm once more,
I'd lost my heart in Heidelberg forever, my heart still beats on Neckar's shore.
Whatever happended to you, since you and I did part.
Oh Heidelberg of legend, you German paradise?
I went away and left you, Left wine & happy days.
I long to be, I long to be, back in your arms always"