Deutschland, bitte.
 

The second leg of les Verts’ European adventure took them, and us, to France’s immediate eastern neighbor.  Every one of us – Nez, Riot, Nez’s sister, Joie, her husband, and their three children whose noms de web are, in order, Eurogrl, Kingskid, and Berryana – would now be a tourist.  And, before we rendezvous with Nez’s dad, who had flown to Germany directly from the States, we would be largely helpless with our feeble German, or the lack of it.  Yet, no one was really thinking about that minor inconvenience; we were all looking forward to exploring the German countryside as a sort of family reunion.  And, if it helps, our German adventure could be thought of as a castle tour with interesting train stories. 

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Castle No. 5, revisited:  Heidelberg.
 

22 May 2008.  Hotel breakfasts in Germany are a feast compared to their meager counterpart in France.  Between the different kinds of sliced meat and cheese, the choices of bread, the boiled eggs, some kind of fruit, and either tea or coffee, one leaves for one’s day sufficiently stuffed.  Sometimes, even a light lunch was unnecessary.

After finishing with our own breakfast in a small room that served the hotel guests in shifts, we set out for the castle, Schloss Heidelberg.  The walk uphill was steep but not insurmountable with occasional breather breaks.  Once we got to the top, we quickly reached a consensus that we would skip the visit to the interior.  Instead, we walked behind the castle to take in its expansive garden and the powerful sight of the ruins rendered through centuries of wars, fires, and yes, lightnings.

I’ll pose for you, said Kingskid,
while grandpa sets up another one of the silly
hand-squeezing-castle shots.  

 

On a perfect green patch of grass that lined the bottom of a dry moat, we, young and old, stood in awe of the massive castle walls and towers, wounded but ever elegant, as elegant as hard cold stones could ever be.  Commanding the most attention was a tower seemingly split in half, right down the middle.  What made the sight all the more amazing was that one side had only slid down alongside the other and had not fallen backward, as one would have expected.  We posited different theories as to how it had happened.  Only later did we learn that it was called the Powder Turret and was blown up by French troops in the late 1600s.

Elsewhere on this bluff, we encountered other impressive remains of the castle, a great view of the Old Town below, and a vast stretch of manicured garden.  But the images of the stone fortification that appeared to have been sheared by the hands of the gods were powerfully etched in our minds.  As far as castles went, at least the ones we had seen, this might be the best one of them all.

 
 
  Kingskid lamented being born too late to join in on the castle’s destruction; Eurogrl lamented being the responsible first born.
  The invading French never had as much fun as these marauding Americans on the gentle slope of the dry moat.
 
 
  The Powder Turret as it appears today, pretty much the same way as it has been for almost 400 years, sliced right in half.

It’s this big, Riot appeared to be gesturing,
referring to either the size of the castle’s tower
or the explosions that blew it up
.  


It’s really that big:  Nez running to pose
against the staggering height of the castle’s wall, which was just barely scratched
by the explosives meant to destroy it.
 


 
 

We took a different path down from the castle, descending on a well-paved and numbered series of steps.  Someone, perhaps an unfortunate graduate student, had to paint the numbers on all 315 steps and not lose count.  We had the easier task of walking leisurely down the winding path amid beautiful greenery and charming homes.  At the bottom, we rewarded ourselves with lunch in the Market Square and watched a procession of newlyweds exiting from the Town Hall.  Some were greeted upon emergence by a crowd of well-wishers and champagne in flutes and musicians; some left alone without any fanfare.

Because of their proximity to the city’s
famous university, we imagined that it was
either a doctoral project or a collegial prank
that got these steps from the castle to the town
below numbered by hand.
 
,

 
 

 

We did a little shopping after a day of sightseeing.  Riot stumbled upon a neat design store called Bellobene at Hauptstraße 135 and convinced Nez that he had to have a few of the cast-iron soccer figures, whose legs mechanically kicked with a tap of a finger on the buttons on their heads.  Back at the hotel, Kingskid caught sight of these new toys and instantly decided that he did not want any more ritters from Heidelberg.  He wanted these figurines instead. 

Riot spent a little while in the evening playing figurine soccer with Kingskid, in between emails to and from his work.  There were two teams battling it out in a small German hotel room:  “Red something or another” and “Yellow Birds.”  It was an expectedly close game but Kingskid’s team eventually squeezed in a victorious goal.  Sometime the next day, when he was asked about his favorite part of this trip, Kingskid did not hesitate to reply:  “Playing with the soccer figures with Riot.”  It was so honest, so simple, and at the same time, so touching it could have brought down a castle.

 
 
 
  Hold on to the one you love:  What else was one supposed to do with such a story-book view.
  Today’s entertainment for the diners in the Market Square:  Newly minted husbands and wives exiting the Town Hall.
 
 
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Go!
 
Holla
 
 
 
 

Copyright © 2008  Rien, Vraiment!  All rights reserved.