It also marks the anniversary of the German announcement of Hitler's death, and we recently received news that it now also marks the death of Osama Bin Laden. May Day is a big day for the deaths of truly heinous people. Good riddance.
Anyway, the train to Heidelberg ended up working out okay-- a bunch of people got off at the first stop and Dad found a compartment with open seats, so we sat together for the remainder of the trip.
Still, seat reservations would have taken away a good deal of stress. We changed trains in Mannheim to get to Heidelberg, then took a local bus to our hotel. The hotel was in the best location possible-- right next the castle, square, and river. We had a little picnic in the square with the food we had planned to eat on the train. The train was far to hectic for food.
Our next few destinations are all along a route called the "Romantic Road," which is easy to understand-- everything about this region looks like a postcard. The scenery between the towns is spectacular, and in Heidelberg, the buildings are colorful and quaint and the castle is visible from nearly everywhere.
The town pretty much consists of a huge university and a huge half-ruined castle, both of which are stunning. We walked up a ton of stairs to get to the castle grounds and wandered around, taking a million pictures. The ruined quality of the castle is definitely a contrast from the pristine restored buildings we have seen in most other regions of Europe.
The castle was damaged during the 30 year war, then the French troops messed with it a little bit in the late 1600's, and it has been set on fire by lightning twice! We got pretty good views from the castle, but the light was sort of bad so we decided to head back down the hill to check out a huge church, and wandered across the river to take pictures from the opposite direction.
We found a really beautiful place with a nice view of the castle, river, bridge, and town... so we decided to come back again later once the light in the castle were on!
We went to dinner back in the square at a little cafe. We had some of our old favorites (Goulash, sausage) and tried a few of Heidelberg's local beer. The beer in Germany is pretty fantastic-- just as good as Czech but heavier.
It fills you up before you even get your food! We thought there were so many cafes in Russia, then there were twice as many in the Baltics, and they have kept intensifying as we have gone farther west. Now we are in Germany, and there are more cafes then people.
They serve local favorites, drinks, and often have really excellent views of the attractions--perfect! While we were waiting for it to get dark, we got some gelato. Holy crap-- this chocolate gelato was the best ice cream I've ever had. It was like cold pudding made from pure melted semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Jenna/Adrienne/Jeremy-- we need to find some more of this stuff so you guys can experience it. After the mind boggling ice cream experience, we went back across the bridge to take some pictures of the castle at night. Once again, Germany didn't disappoint with the way they light up their buildings-- the castle was absolutely beautiful.
We woke up really early on Tuesday morning (5-3) and got back on the bus to the Haupbahnhof, which showed up massively late then drove extra fast to make up for the delay. Then back on the local train to Mannheim, and back on the regional train to Frankfurt (which is where I am now as I write this). From Frankfurt, we head to Wurzburg to spend a few hours, then to Nuremberg for the night. Busy busy busy! I'll post the entry from Wurzburg at the same time as this one, so be sure to keep reading if you are interested. Ade!
As a preface, yesterday was May 1st, which is a national holiday in Europe. "May Day" is basically an International Workers' Day, or Labour Day. It is common for there to be political demonstrations and celebrations organised by communists, anarchists, socialists, unionists, and other activist groups.