Friday, April 18, 2008

Globetrotting Gemini takes on Germany! ;)

I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany March 31st and my family (Uncle Michael, Aunt Dianne and cousin Tammy) picked me up (a very nice luxury that mostly just New Yorkers would appreciate as much as me!). We drove south to their small town Grünstadt and went straight to Vito’s Italian Restaurant! The food was delicious (so great that they go every Thursday to dine with the locals -- I have already been 4 or 5 times in my short stay here!) It was so nice to arrive in Germany where I can unpack for more than 3 days, hang with family, use a washer/dryer, and be in a lovely little town to relax and get myself in order in between trips, just what I needed! I spent my first few days just lounging and recovering from Spain!

A couple days I got up early so I could go to Heidelberg with Uncle Michael. I wandered aimlessly around the cute cobblestone streets, ate gelato, checked out the University (the oldest Universität in Germany) and of course toured the Heidelberger Schloss!

*The castle gardens

*Fountain in the castle's garden and the view!

The Schloss (castle) is set on top of the hill overlooking the city and Neckar river. It is only partially intact since it has been destroyed three times (twice by war, once by lightning). The castle gardens that surround it on the hill are really nice but nothing compared to the pictures of what it use to look like before one of the many bombings the city endured. The morning I took the tour I was there so early that I had over an hour to kill before the English tour started…I tried to stay in the gardens but the marvelous German weather (cold with drizzling rain) made that pretty unpleasant.

*What is left of the interior of the castle and on the rt the biggest wine barrel ever used!

I finally found a hall where the tours started and sat on the concrete steps in front of an iron gate. I was bundled up and reading my book – The Memory Keepers Daughter - which I had just started and was totally sucked in, when a man who worked at the castle saw me and started giving me the “who are you? and why do you think you can sit there look?” hmm..I felt like I must explain but since I don’t speak a lick of German I just hoped for the best.

“Hi, I’m just waiting for the tour and it’s so cold outside.”
“The English tour at 11:15?? (with another look as if he’s thinking that’s still really far away) Do you have a ticket?”
“Yes, just a sec…”

You wouldn’t believe it, because I sure didn’t, the ticket was GONE! I was using my entrance ticket as a bookmark but the tour ticket which was in a certain pocket of my rain coat was not there. For kicks I went through my purse and all 8 million of the pockets in my coat – still no where. Nice, I got a student discount but I’m about to pay full price because I’ll have to get a second ticket. By this time he had left me scrounging through all my belongings and was talking to the ticket guy across the way. I walked outside and sure enough right outside the doorway was my little ‘children’s’ ticket! Ha, I use my ISIC card all the time to get discounts at museums etc but it usually says ‘student,’ nice, the one time I lose something...oh well. I’m thrilled, I can stay in my semi-warm but better than outside spot and keep reading.

When he returns I quickly run over waving my children’s ticket to show him I found it (and I’m not a total mess after all)!! He speaks some English, not great but we understand each other just fine. I’m worried because he doesn’t seem like he wants me to sit there anyway. Then to my delight he opens the iron gate I was sitting in front of and tells me I can go up the stairs to a room with real chairs, light, paintings of the castle and best of all a heater!!! Whoo-hoo! What a saint! I’m thrilled, Danke! Danke! (Thank you! Thank you!) and I’m off to my warm chair to

read until my tour.

*My first day in Heidelberg

The next day Uncle Michael (their dog Mia) and I took a long walk through the wine fields, which are just up the street from their house. We walked up through the hills with vines as far as your eye could see. We kept going down the other side into another small village with an old worn down castle and great views of the surrounding towns.

It’s absolutely gorgeous here - in every direction there are green fields, charming towns with church steeples and red roofs, the windmills turn in the distance and the flowers are all starting to bloom!

*The wine fields and view from the old castle!

Next stop – Berlin!

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