"Blue Suede Shoes"

Trip Start May 25, 2013
Trip End Jun 23, 2013

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Flag of Germany  , Rhineland-Palatinate,
Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mirela and Adriana have worked tirelessly again to find and book the next activity to fill another day while marooned in Koblenz. With so many boats stranded, it's not so easy to instantly procure buses!
Today is to be Heidelberg. It is a three hour bus trip each way, but Gisela ensures us it is a destination worth seeing.

She sorts a train transfer for Jan who's spine cannot endure bus travel and three of our group are already gone by the time the remainder emerge for breakfast and depart at 8.30am.

Once again the American and Canadian tour groups travel together in the first two buses, leaving the independent Aussie tourists and a NZ tour group in the third "blue" coach - fondly now known as the party bus!

It is a long three hours, mostly through farming country on freeways and for a long stretch in stop-start road works traffic. We arrive about half an hour after the others and catch the funicular railway up to the landmark Heidelberg Castle.

The earliest castle structure was built before AD 1214 by Celts, and then has a long and checkered history of occupations, wars, rebuildings and fires. It contains the largest wine barrel in Germany - since one tenth of a wine grower's production was collected as tax by the rulers.

The views from the castle's upper levels along the Neckar Valley are spectacular.

The next hour is spent in the delightful company of Volker - a distant relative of Gisela and Walter. He has travelled to meet us for a couple of hours in what was his university town. The University of Heidelberg is the oldest in Germany, dating from 1386. Most of the faculties are now in newer buildings across the river from the old town, but a walk through the charming streets reveals some still where they may well have begun life. Students make up around one quarter of Heidelberg's population and the vibrancy and traditional surroundings are an intoxicating combination. Gayle and I sadly leave the others returning by train and return to the bus.

It proves to be a false economy... we should have lashed out on a train ticket for the return home. The driver, for some inexplicable reason, takes a slow route back through the industrial town of Mannheim. Half way back through the three and a half hours, the bus's air conditioning fails.

We roll off the party bus with no rock and roll left in our bodies, but I wish I had had my favourite blue Converse sneakers with me... My feet are puffy and swollen and I am NOT doing another long bus trip on this tour!

Not even another sample of a Heidelberg black forest cake appeases me. Still not up to Glen Waverley standards.

"Blue Suede Shoes" by Elvis Presley
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