Heidelberg, Germany – Tuesday/Wednesday

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

I definitely overdid the walking yesterday – I know I did a lot, but it’s not like I’ve never walked that far before! My knees hurt on the way home, and once they stiffened last night they were pretty bad, particularly the left one. I tried to stay off them, and of course there is no ice, but I used cold water from the shower, and we wet a spare clean sock (no washclothes either!) and stuck it in the fridge to cool. Which is kinda funny. I also took motrin, and my aloe pills – which were the only thing that helped when I had a bad patch like this with my knees a few years ago.

I took it easy this morning, which was easy to do, because I had a hard time falling asleep, and this morning I had a bad nightmare – and it was raining. So I just hung out, and my knee did feel better.

But then the lift was out, and we are on the 3rd floor, so I had to start off my morning going down steps, so my knee started hurting right away! I walked to the museum that was closed yesterday and met Doug. I was ok, but starting to hurt. The museum was very cool – lots of stuff, from period clothing to paintings to archaelogy. But I was really hurting by the time I got through it, and of course, the captions are all in German, which I can’t understand. So I was kind of bummed, because I actually like reading the signs in museums. No pics allowed in the museum too. I had to walk back to Bismarckplatz, where I was able to catch a cab the rest of the way. It’s maybe a 10 minute walk from there, but I just couldn’t walk anymore. Before I got the cab, I got some of those thermal care heat packs and a knee brace at a drug store. We’ll see if that helps at all tomorrow. I looked it up – ice after activity, heat before.

So, here I am, back at the hotel. It’s nearly 4. I’m going to try and rest my leg I guess – and hope that I’m all right for tomorrow. We’re going to see the castle in the afternoon. I think we will have to take a cab there and back. It’s far anyway. And I will save me knees for the actual castle.

It’s hard to believe I’m way across the ocean from home – since we slept during the crossing of the Atlantic, it’s like it happened in a dream or something. Plus the airplane flew all the way up the coast, up past Maine, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, before heading east. When we woke up, we were over England. I was really disappointed it was so cloudy, because we were right over London and the Channel, and I wanted to see it from the air! Flying in a 777 is really different too – it’s so big that it somehow has the illusion that it’s more secure and stable, and you feel the motion less. Very strange!

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

I took it easy this morning to save my knees. Doug came back at lunchtime, and we first hit the Apoteke and bought some Volaren Gel, recommended by a friend. My knees hurt a lot just on that short walk, which didn’t bode real well for the day. Today we were going to see the Schloss, or Castle, as Doug had the afternoon off. The good news is, I don’t know if it was the aloe finally kicking in, or the Alleve, or the Volaren Gel, or a combination of everything, but I actually did ok this afternoon!

We took a taxi right from the hotel to the Schloss. We got bratwurst on really nice, crusty bread with mustard for lunch, and then got an audio tour thing for the outside of the castle. We explored most of that first, and then ended up finishing just in time to catch the 3:15 English tour of the inside of the castle, which is really cool.

Here are some pics from our outside explorations, before we took the inside tour:
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I won’t go into the whole history of the castle – there is a lot of it. The short version is that the castle and gardens were largely destroyed during the 30 Years War in the mid-1600s. It was rebuilt by Prince Elector Karl Ludwig (1649 – 1680), only to be destroyed once again by French troops. Lightning struck one of the towers in 1764, and burned a lot of it down, so it has been abandonded since. Parts of it are original, only a few parts reconstructed, and most of it left as a historical ruin. Many of the original statues were removed and are on display inside, as they were getting wrecked. So the statues on the castle walls are reproductions. The castle has a couple different styles from different rulers – gothic and renaissance – and later some Baroque, I think. The romantic story involves Frederick V, who married Elizabeth Stewart – daughter of James I, granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots. It was a political marriage of course, but supposedly they fell in love anyway, and he built the castle gardens (designed in the French style with terraces and partarres) for her – and built a couple other structures for her. Including the “Elizabeth Gate”, which is a really ornate freestanding arch, that is highly decorated. There are snails, frogs, snakes, and salamaders hidden in the carvings (I got a few closeups of them), and reportedly he hid them in there for her and said that he would give her a kiss for each one she found. Awww.

He, a Protestant, was offered the crown of Bohemia, which he took, but he lost it to the Holy Roman Empire after a year, and they had to flee to Holland. He died in mysterious circumstances at 36. The castle gardens, as I mentioned, were destroyed (in fact, they were never finished) -and much later were resdesigned in the English park style.

Here are pics of the Elizabeth gate:
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And some of the hidden snails, snakes and frogs:
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There are Stone Mason marks on the buildings here and there.
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There’s some legend about a witch biting and cracking the huge ring on this door.
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Here we are entering the castle courtyard, so the next bunch of pics will be from there.
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Another legend is that of the architect whose boys liked to visit him at the site – and then had an accident and died. So this sculpture is of them. Sad, no?
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This is the view in front of you when you walk in. The statues on the building are, I believe, different electors and rulers.

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This is what is behind you, a pic of where we came in:
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This is what is to the right – the statues here are of Roman gods and goddesses, and it is from a different time period as the building with the electors on it.
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I love this door knocker!
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I thought these were so pretty!
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Follow me to the giant wine barrel!
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Ok, that’s pretty big… but that’s not the giant one!
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Now that’s a wine barrel! And a dusty one! Apparently all the wine that was made in the area and paid as tax was all dumped together in this big barrel. All mixed together. All those different wines. I’m sure it left something to be desired in taste.

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We went around the front of the castle for some of these photos. The 2nd one is supposedly the footprint of a knight who jumped out of the castle from high up in the 1st pic – I think there was a fire? Anyway, his armored heel dented in the stone.

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This next batch of pics is inside the castle. The room the tour starts in had some of the statues that used to be on the outside of the building, as well as various other stone carvings and suits of armor!
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The tour went outside again, giving us a new view of the ruins, and of the bathrooms – those boxes on the outside of the wall – the waste would simply fall into the moat. And yes, one of the bathrooms is above the other two. If you were in the lower one, you’d want to be sure there was no one in the upper one.
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Here are some more inside shots:
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And the ruined tower:
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This tower had the roof burned off it..
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These are pictures of the garden.
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At the end of the garden is a beautiful view of Heidelberg (you can even see the Haubtstrasse!), and of the castle!
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We took the funicular (a little railway car like The Incline in Pittsburgh) a short way (expensive it was!) to right near Marktplatz – the walk down would have been too much on my knees!
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And it worked out well, because I hadn’t seen Marktplatz yet!
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So we saw the large Church of the Holy Spirit there…
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… and Hotel Ritter, where we had dinner. Hotel Ritter, or Haus zum Ritter is the only private house to have survived the wars of the 17th c without major damage. It was owned by Huguenot Charles Belier, who came to Heidelberg seeking refuge from religious persecution, and he built this building in the Renaissance style in 1592. The vaulted ceilings on the ground floor (where the restaurant is now) and the basement were used as storage for the ware of a cloth-merchant! The facade of the building looks like two of the buildings in the Schloss, which date to the same period. Figures of Belier and his wfe are on the building, as well as rams, their heraldic device (as belier means ram in old French).
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We had dinner here, and the food was amazing! I had some sort of fish in a lemony curry with noodles and caviar! And Doug had pork tenderloins in a brown sauce with noodles. We had apple strudel with walnut ice cream for dessert! It was excellent and not overly expenive for such a fancy restaurant. They were kind enough to call a taxi, and we came home, not too much worse for the wear!

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