We stayed at Vier Jahreszeiten (Four Seasons) right on the Neckar River. As far as location went, we couldn't have picked a better place. That said, out of all the hotels we stayed in, this one was an easy least favorite. The staff was nice, the room was clean, but it seemed a bit run down, it had a funny smell, and it just needed some updates (the weirdest bathroom/toilet ever). The breakfast was also pretty crummy. That's okay though because all we did was spend one night there. We had a terrific view and somehow despite being right on the street by the bridge that attracted tourists all night, it was pretty quiet!
It's the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and we've seen lots of recognition for that.
Take a gander at this t-shirt. It made us laugh. Speaking of this, our taxi driver on our way to our hotel was from Iraq, one of the countries impacted by the Executive Order blocking immigration to the States, and he had strong opinions on Trump and foreign policy which he shared with us. One very interesting thing to me is that the second you say you're from America, people will ask what you think of Trump. When people say, "Where are you from?" I now say, "I live in Muenster". It's very clear that I don't have enough of a grasp on the German language to be from Germany, but I also don't love speaking politics with strangers so I try to avoid saying I'm American.
This street (Hauptstrasse) was so packed with people when we were here in August. There were lots of people out and about despite the winter gloom, but it seemed like a totally different place. Several stores had signs in the window announcing that they were closed for the season and some ice cream places had other businesses running out of them temporarily (I'm guessing ice cream isn't a hot business when it's snowing?).
After we'd made our way all the way to the end of Hauptstrasse, we turned right and crossed the bridge and walked along the water, admiring the side of the street that housed our hotel.
The evening was gloomy but still beautiful. It was humid because of the misty rain, but still decently warm compared to the places we'd just been.
We walked over the old bridge and were back near our hotel.
This monkey is a popular tourist attraction. I don't know its significance, but I got a picture in it anyway. I'm on my tiptoes but still wasn't tall enough to get up there further.
We had Thai food for dinner and then went in search of Spaghettieis (ice cream that's shaped like spaghetti). I'd remembered seeing lots of places selling it back in August - but ice cream is bigger in August than in January, so many of those places were closed for the season or had simply closed early in the day. We found a shop with ice cream and they said that there were no Spaghettieis places open this time of year so we ate there (we later found out that there was one, but perhaps at this time of night it was just closed, so we still made a good choice).
We discovered Star Trek and a Kung Fu movie (Fist of Fury maybe? Does that sound like a name?) dubbed into German, so we turned those on as background noise. Carson helped Danita sort through her pictures, and then we all quietly read or went to sleep.
In the morning, we headed toward the Schloss. When we were here in August, we walked up, but there is a funicular and cable car system that goes up there and then up much further to give a view of the city, so we decided to do that (included in that price was admission to the castle, so it was really worth it!).
There were some police officers at the top and some other tourists were taking pictures of their car, when one of the officers decided to pose for photos.
Hello, down there!
We took a photo in this same spot in August. It was much more crowded and bright out then.
We toured the German Apothecary Museum inside the castle. I thought the bottles were pretty.
The castle boasts the world's largest wine barrel, so of course we had to see that.
This is not it.
This is it, although the perspective is skewed because I'm standing about six steps off the ground, so it appears smaller than the other one.
Here we are with Carson for perspective. Okay, I guess that's a pretty big barrel. Was wine kept in here for real? I don't know! Can you imagine how long it would take to fill it up though? Decades, maybe.
The castle has endured misfortune, including being struck by lightning twice. It was also invaded and partially destroyed by fire.
This is Vater Rhein - Father Rhine... no further information was given, but I think we can safely assume he's the god of the river Rhine?
We walked over to the castle gate for a good view.
Everyone else took the funicular down the mountain but I walked. My route took me by the university (Heidelberg is the oldest university in Germany!) and through town, but I still made it to our meeting spot first. We had some time, so we browsed shops, ate lunch, and wandered before getting our bags and heading to the train.
I'd heard of Hummel collectibles, but I didn't know how pricey they were!
We also found Spaghettieis! It tastes nothing like spaghetti, thankfully.
We took another taxi to the train station where we believed ourselves to be early for our train but alas - we hadn't looked at the tickets the night before as we usually do to verify that we're leaving at the right time. Our tickets were for 15:55, which is 3:55. Somehow in our heads we'd messed that up and whatever the case, our train had already left. So instead of a train that would change once and get us home by 8pm, we had four train changes and got home close to midnight, plus we had to shell out money for new tickets. Of all the mistakes we could have made, this wasn't the worst (and it wasn't that expensive), but we still wonder why we didn't just check like we usually do!
This did give us a stop in Cologne though, so Carson guarded the bags while we ran just outside the train station and snapped a picture in front of the Koelner Dom before rushing back to make our next train. This really is how close the cathedral is from the station!