Worlds Colliding

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Sunday, November 18, 2012

Howdy folks,

On Friday night after a long hard week of German school, I was ready to hit the town and have a little bit of fun. We had Waadtland Cheese Fritters for dinner which is a piece of toast covered with cheese and toppings plus a fried egg for good luck. We drove into town at 7pm and parked again at the Karlsplatz and walked the short distance to the cafe. There is a buzz of activity in Heidelberg at the moment because all of the Christmas markets are being set up in just about any available public space in Alt Stadt. They open next week and I can't wait to go!

There were much less people at the Sprach Cafe than last week, but there were still more than a dozen people sitting down and chatting. Steffie and I were feeling braver than last week so we sat down at the end of the group and started chatting with a Spanish guy and an Italian lady in English. Apparently this wasn't an official Sprach Cafe and the Spanish Cafe started shortly thereafter so they both left with the ladies from Kazachstan and Columbia to go there. We remained behind to chat to 5 German guys that stayed. Once the cups were empty, we headed to a local cafe to have another drink. One of the guys was telling us about his experiences learning to become a teacher and we debated whether it was die Nutella or das Nutella. All in all, a good night.

On Saturday we had planned to go in early to Heidelberg to do the Philosopher's Walk, but we ended up Skyping a few people instead. We had lunch at home and then drove into Alt Stadt. The car parks were already filling up quickly. After some searching we found a spot in the parkade near the town hall. The reason we came into Heidelberg was to catch up with an old friend of mine Silvana who lives in Frankfurt. I first met Silvana in New Zealand on my Contiki tour in 2010 and she taught me to play Mau Mau (uno) with cards and drink a Diesel (coke and beer). We kept in random contact on Facebook over the years and she said if I ever came to Germany we should catch up.

We met Silvana and Pierre at Starbucks on the Hauptstrasse and it was like two worlds colliding. It was great to see her again and introduce her to Steffie. Amazingly she brought a photobook which she made from the trip which had so many beautiful photos of New Zealand. It brought back quite a few memories and it was great to share some memories with her. After catching up over coffee, we set out to go up to the Heidelberg Schloss.

There are two ways to get to the schloss: first is by foot and 315 steps or the second is by the Bergbahn. We opted for the lazy way and bought a ticket on the furnicular railway. I've only been on this contraption once before in Wellington and this one was much more modern. We didn't go all the way up to the Koenigstuhl so the trip was quite short. From there it was a short walk to the schloss.

This is the first castle I've ever been to. I wouldn't call the one in Mannheim a castle as it wasn't built with fortifications. I guess I would call that a palace instead. Germany is full of them and in this area there are half a dozen in various sizes or states of decay. The Heidelberg Schloss is older than the one in Mannheim and could be considered a ruin. Only the main section of the castle survived intact and I didn't get the audio guide this time so I'm a bit short on details. I know that it is quite old; more than 600 years and has had quite a history over this period. Ultimately it began its demise after Charles III Philip, Elector Palantine moved to Mannheim and built the Mannheim Palace in the 18th century. More on this one later...

We walked through the courtyard and down into the wine cellar where there was a pretty big wine barrel followed by a wine barrel the size of an entire room! Apparently it holds 222,000 litres and was made in 1751. Now that is enough for the whole city to get drunk! It is tradition to dance on the high platform so I did a little jig. There were a few modern wines being sampled in the cellar as well, but no beer in sight.

We walked out to the balcony to see the marvelous view of the city and back through the courtyard, but we didn't feel up to going through the museum; another day perhaps. On the balcony is an imprint in the stone allegedly from a knight who jumped through the window to safety when the castle caught fire. If he did jump it would have been quite a leap! We did walk along the garden wall past the International Film Festival tents that Mannheim and Heidelberg are currently hosting. The view was a bit foggy, but good nonetheless. Part of the rear of the castle near the gardens called the powder turret was destroyed in an explosion and still lies on an angle.

Once we were finished, we made our way back down the 315 steps to the town below and all went for a walk down the Hauptstrasse. At one of the churches they were raising money by selling gluewien which is warm spiced wine and pretty good on a cold day. To top it off we had some roast chestnuts as well! After passing an impromptu parade, we stopped in at a few shops and had dinner at an Irish Pub, but it wasn't that great. I've never been in a pub where the meals come out before the drinks! The waitress wasn't exactly friendly, but I think I accidentally snobbed her. We had to rush back, so we said goodbye and drove back to Edingen.

Saturday was the big handball game at the SAP Arena in Mannheim and went with Steffie's father who is a big fan. He doesn't speak English, so it was time to practice my German and not surprisingly we didn't say much! The handball pitch is build over the covered ice because it would take too much time to melt the ice and reform it for Sunday afternoon's Mannheim Adler game. I find that pretty interesting in itself! We got there just in time and sat down high in the corner. Having never been to a handball game before, I had no idea what to expect. There were nearly 11,000 people and just about all of them were clapping or making noise so it was quite loud!

Handball is a game between two teams of 7 players including a keeper. The game is over a hundred years old which is surprising because I've never heard of it before: it is even an Olympic sport! Basically the teams have 30 minute halves where they have to throw the ball in the goals at either end. It reminded me a lot of basketball, but the players are much more athletic and agile. They can't attack the goal directly, but must throw from outside the D line. There are quite a few fouls and goals so it keeps the action interesting. The final score was the Rhein-Neckar Lions beating the Füchse Berlin 25-22.

By the time we got home and had a neuer wein I was definitely ready for bed!
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