Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One of my cousin's best friends, Juliet, happens to live in Heidelberg  - our next destination. She invited us to stay as long as we wanted, she probably didn't think we'd stay for almost a week though.  We walked from the train station to her place, which is on the US Army Base.  Her husband is in Afghanistan, so it is just her and her dog, Zoe (aka Sausage).  Juliet made us dinner when we arrived and gave us all the maps and info we could handle for Heidelberg. 

The first day we were too tired to do anything.  There is only so many days in a row we could keep going, we needed a day to relax.  We did walk back and forth a few times to the grocery store though.  It's good we saved some energy for the next day.  We started with a 2+ hour hike through the woods/mountains near Juliet's.  We hiked into town and ended at the Heidelberg Castle.  Great views but you sure don't get much for your money with the castle ticket.  The highlight was the wine vat located in the cellars of the castle.  It holds 220,000 liters of wine - or 58,100 gallons!!!  It was created in 1751 with 130 pine trees.  It was rarely used and isn't anymore but there is a dance floor on the top of it.  The castle sits on a hilltop overlooking the city.  It is three quarters blown up from the war but it still has lots of character. 

After the castle we walked through town and over the famous Old Bridge and had a beer at the student hall at the university.  Yes, they serve beer there.  Good idea.  We just spent the rest of the day wondering around town and seeing the squares.  We have a routine for seeing these German towns.  That night we made our famous NZ dish for Juliet.  We (I) was pretty tired from the hike this morning but I keep going the whole day. 

Juliet drove us to the top of another lookout the next morning where there are numerous monuments.  The trail is called Philosophenweg or Philosopher's Way.  Over the course of history there have been monuments built from various times.   Hitler had a amphitheater that was used once and now is where the hippies hang out.  There was also the ruins of an old monastery, a tower lookout and a really deep well.

After all this we hiked down the "mountain", stopping along the way to pick a sliver out of Brian's toe as people stared at us, and trying out a see-saw that had a huge spring on the bottom so you didn't just go up and down but side to side and in circles (not great for a man's anatomy).  The Neckar River runs through town and is beautiful.  The streets are just like the ones in other German towns - small, narrow with lots of shops and pubs.  Went into one gummy bear store and ate roughly a pound each  Gew.  Then we went to the old bar in town.  My dad had visited this bar 30-some years ago and told me all about it.  They still have the same tables and chairs.  They are about to fall apart from all the cravings in them.  I looked briefly for Dad's name on the tables but not luck.  Great place with lots of character.  Afterwords, we hiked back up to the castle and sat on a bench and watched the sunset.  Romantic city. 

The next day was reserved for the naked spas in Baden Baden, a town a couple hours south by train.  We left early and had plenty of time to wonder around the ritzy, upper class town.  Watching our money, we just got a liter of ice cream for lunch and ate in the park.  Beautiful day and the leaves were just changing.  That afternoon we went to one of the spas.  They have 3 different ones in town.  One is completely nude and bathing suits are not allowed.  Hum...didn't feel completely comfortable with that.  Juliet told us that families go together.  Again, gew.  So we went to the ordinary one but they didn't tell us that all the "cool" things are on the top floor, which is nude only!  Damn.  The great saunas, etc were all up there. There were still great things downstairs.  We enjoyed downstairs but wanted to check it out upstairs.  I followed Brian up to see what it was like.  Everyone up there was wearing a towel at least...but...Brian and I each had brought a Sham-wow.  They are about the size of a hand towel.  So, I didn't want to deal with that, so I went back downstairs and Brian continued to undress and went into one of the saunas.  I went back downstairs and a few minutes later I saw Brian coming back downstairs too (with his suit on).  Turns out...you need a real towel to be up there.  His wasn't big enough, it was barely big enough for him to sit on.  After much awkwardness, he left. 

We spent the rest of the week hanging out in Heidelberg, relaxing and eating ice cream.    We needed a lot of rest, afterall, our next and final stop, was Amsterdam.
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