Thursday, October 07

We had a late start this morning since we decided to take advantage of the excellent internet connection to check over Sunday's church service. A few hitches, but it got done.
Then a very nice breakfast at our hotel and on the road again. We asked "Helen" to find us the city centre in Heidelberg and she came back with a bunch of unintelligible options. Choosing one at random, we crossed our fingers and set out. It was a bit alarming to pass a few roads and arrows clearly pointing to Heidelberg, but we continued to follow her directions, traveling down ever-narrowing roads and up ever-steeper slopes until she announced that our destination was on the right. So our right was a cow pasture - hardly Heidelberg city centre! So we turned her off and backtracked to follow those clear signs.
Soon after entering the city we spotted Tourist Information - hooray! But where to park to get in there? We drove a bit further and spotted a big 'P', and better yet it was next to a public toilet, which I really, really needed. [bless McDonald's at home - they are really hard to find here!].
So we parked and looked for a machine to pay, but it became apparent that it was a permit holders lot. Next priority the toilet. Had to drop $.25 (Euros) into the slot to unlock it, then the door resisted closing, so I looked for a button to close it - chose the wrong one and the next thing I knew it was spraying, flushing and blowing hot air and Larry was outside forcing the door shut. I avoided any serious harm, did what I was there for and wondered if I was locked in. Would Larry have $.25 to release me if necessary [Larry says:"I was outside checking my change"]. However all was well.
Larry stayed with the car while I hiked the 3 or 4 blocks to Tourist Info and got the word on tours, then we set off to find real parking and the English language tour of the city and Heidelberg Castle.
We found both, along with 2 other couples who turned out to be from Michigan. We enjoyed their company during the tour and shared travel adventure yarns; we recommended Viking river tours.
The city is pretty and interesting with one of the oldest universities in the world.
The Castle ("Schloss")is a ruin but beautiful, huge and fascinating, and with a very interesting history.
We rode the funicular down from the schloss and walked through the old town to our car. We had missed lunch in the scramble to catch the tour, but decided to wait a bit for dinner. We told Helen [after we chastised her for the previous misadventure] to get us on the road to Rothenberg and figured we'd look for a place to stay along the way. After a piece down the autobahn, she announced that our selected route involved "traffic disruptions" but didn't suggest an alternative. Sure enough we got into backups, construction and so on, so I scanned the map and got us off the autobahn at Neckarsulm which looked promising. However we missed the turn to the hotel area and ended up in a small place called Bad Friedrickshall. Soon we spotted a sign for the Hotel Schloss Lehen and pulled in. So OMG! we're staying in a castle! We have a room that's bigger than some apartments I've lived in! Our bathroom is bigger than the room we had on the ship last week! It's really nice and the added bonus is a terrific dining room with great food. Definitely worth skipping lunch for!
There are still lovely dark red roses blooming in the garden and on every table in the restaurant. Wow!
Oh yes, and friendly, caring staff to take care of our every want.
We had a drink in the lounge before dinner and read a bit about the history of the place via wall and ceiling paintings. It dates to the 16th Century and is part of the Castle Road tour. Just terrific all around.

Photos. Click for larger.

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