Heidelberg: When Tourists Attack

I arrived in Heidelberg in the morning after an easy train ride from Frankfurt. I was looking forward to stretching my legs and exploring this city described as “Home of Germany’s oldest university, Heidelberg is majestically set on the banks for the swift flowing Neckar” and “Sun-drenched Heidelberg and its crumbling castle has lured many… But even mass tourism can’t spoil the experience of Heidelberg’s beautiful hillside setting” by a couple of guidebooks. I immediately took off, having pre-planned a circular path on the train ride that ensured I saw all the highlights, but left some flexibility if I wanted to detour to something interesting not in the books.

First I crossed over the river and wandered through a quintessential German residential area working my way to Philosophenweg, which promises great views of the Schloss (castle). I was instantly charmed and excited to see the rest of Heidelberg. I continued on to Philosophenweg, which was on a hill a bit steeper than promised, but the views were as great as described and it was pretty tourist free (although I’m not sure if this would hold true in peak tourist seasons).

 

I decided to go down via a cobblestone path called Schiangenweg and cutting across the bridge closest to the Schloss rather than double back. This path was very cute and picturesque, but not great for my bad knee.

 

I made it down the path and across the bridge which also offered great views of both sides of the river, and crossed through the gate on the far side of the bridge. I was suddenly in tourist central. Previously I had only seen one or two tourists, but suddenly massive tour groups with brightly coloured headphones were following their guides and causing pedestrian traffic jams. As I entered the Marktplatz, what should have been one of the most beautiful and historic squares was not, it was full of tourists sporting bum-bags and cameras around their necks, and there were so many vendors selling junky souvenirs that you could barely see the buildings among them. By this point I was hungry, and maybe a bit grouchy so before giving up on Heidelberg completely I decided to find some food, but all of the restaurants catered to tourists and all the menus were in English. I finally found a donner kabob place (classy I know) where all of the patrons were speaking German and had a decent falafel pita (despite the odd addition of cabbage).

 

After lunch I was feeling slight better and had somewhat acclimatised to the tourists. I decided to walk up to the Schloss rather than take the Bergbahn, one of Germany’s oldest cable cars, which may have been too much after my previous hike up and down Philosophenweg and the fact that I was still a little stiff after the 26 hour plane ride. Someone was nice enough to actually number the steps for you, so that when you start to think, aren’t I almost there, you can look down and realise, no I still have 200 more steps to go…

 

By this point both jetlag and my bad knee, not to mention the tourists everywhere were starting to wear on me, so even though the Schloss was pretty amazing from the outside, I didn’t go in. I made my way back to the train station wandering through residential areas again, which proved to be much more interesting. Overall, Heidelberg turned out to be a pretty and charming city, although in retrospect I could have avoided the Marktplatz and Hauptstrasse and been just fine.

Love, Lee

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~ by loveleeeee on September 15, 2011.

2 Responses to “Heidelberg: When Tourists Attack”

  1. I like your post and I hope I could visit German next year! 😀

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