Odenwald Wanderung

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Saturday, January 5, 2013

Howdy folks,

Well I could tell you that this week has been action packed, but with no school and Steffie back to work, things have been a little quiet around the house. I've still been trying to study German every day by reading a kid's book that Steffie gave me called: "Ein Fall für Freunde" and I've translated about 5 pages so far. It is probably a book for 8 year olds as the verbs and sentence structure are a little more advanced. From what I can understand it is an exciting adventure!

I've been going for walks around Edingen in the afternoons to take in some of the scenery. The weather has been good and I can't believe in January it is still 8 degrees. In Banff they have been having -28 degree Celsius while in Australia things are scorching up at 44 degrees Celsius. That makes 8 degrees Celsius a pleasant median.

On Friday, I went into Heidelberg to re-enroll in the next German course, but the office was closed. I'm still waiting on my Visa and the clock is counting down. If nothing transpires in the next 2 weeks, I have to fly out which is a little daunting!

Nevertheless, I wanted to take a walk in the woods to take my mind off things. Heidelberg sits on the boundary of a large forest called the Odenwald which stretches from Darmstadt in the north all the way to Heidelberg in the south covering the corners of Hessen, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. It is quite large covering 2,500km. It is quite popular with hiking and mountain biking so I thought that I would take a look starting in the hills behind Heidelberg. I hadn't really planned on hiking so I only had my camera and a photo of the map board for directions!

The area has many different trails going in various directions and most are marked with either a stone with directions or different colour markers. It started climbing steeply up from Bismarckplatz, which if you have ever seen a photo of the area looks strange because the terrain seems to come up out of nothing. At the first juncture there was a nice view over the plains towards Mannheim, in fact I could even make out the fernsehturm which is how flat the terrain is!

Unlike Canada, there are many different structures at various points along the way including historical sites, points of interest and picnic huts. After coming to Rondellhütte the train turned again up the hill towards Gaisberg where there was a 13m high lookout toward. That was all well and good, but in the meanwhile the clouds had rolled in and I could see about 10m in front of my face. Not exactly good for the view!

I passed an area called Trees of the World and up to the Blockhouse where I crossed the road that leads up to the Königstuhl (Kings Chair). I've heard that there is a nice view from there, but it wasn't to be the day so I continued along to the Molenkur bergbahn station and then down to the Schloss. There weren't many people on the trail (not surprising because it is Winter), But as I walked down the 315 steps from the Schloss, there came a mountain biker barrelling down from behind with little to no warning. It was pretty narrow, I don't know how he managed to get through clean! After 2 hours, it was a good workout for my first proper hike in Germany.

Today, Steffie and I tackled the trail surrounding the Heiligenberg which is the hill on the northern side of the Neckar River. Again, there were so many trails that  seemed to run in concentric circles around the hills that you really needed a map to know which path to take. Even the direction stones were a little confusing if you didn't exactly know where you wanted to go. Our first stop was the Heiligenbergturm which forms part of the ruins of a 800 year old monastry. The ruins weren't very big and the tower was much newer in comparison, although still over 100 years old.

From there we walked up the road to the Thingstätte which is a giant outdoor ampitheatre built in 1935 for Nazi rallies. These days it is pretty quiet except during Silvester and in May when there are big parties held up there. The acoustics were really good: from the stage I could talk and Steffie could hear me right from the top. Apparently it holds 8000 seated and additional 5000 standing, although it would be pretty crowded if filled to capacity! It was a pity that the low clouds were once again restricting our views although it did give the place an eerie feel.

At the top of the Heiligenberg is another older set of ruins from another monastry. These are double the size and are not in bad shape considering their age. We had a look up at the towers, although its always hard for me to imagine what it would have looked like in its hey day. From the top we continued along the saddleback down to the Mausbach Well and around the front to where the Philosophenweg started. We continued along until we could see the start of the altstadt where we looped higher on the Ober Philosophenweg to the Bismarckturm which was covered in graffiti and still filled with exploded firecrackers. It was a steep trek back up the hill to the car and after 3 hours it was good to sit down!

Not a bad excursion although I wish I hadn't accidentally left my hiking boots behind in the Dodge Caravan when we sold it!
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