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Report 2015: Alpine Adventures and Other Travels in the Rhone, Rhin and Rhön

By wendy lynn from California USA, Summer 2012

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Page 17 of 21: Germany: Heidelberg and Fulda

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Wendy and Julia in Heidelberg, Germany

We wake up early and are ready for breakfast when it opens at 7:30am. The breakfast room at the Hotel Kredell is dark and cozy. The buffet spread is quite nice. Probably second to Munich. We are offered soft boiled eggs at the table and plenty of coffee too. A good assortment of cheese, meat, juice and big baskets of many varieties of bread. We scarf it down, pay our bill and head for Heidelberg to beat the crowds.

We weren't sure we'd visit Heidelberg but the hotel lady was so encouraging, it seemed a shame to miss the opportunity. She tells us what parking place to head for and we're there in ten minutes. This was indeed a great place to park. It's easy to walk up to the Schloss which is very impressive--the most impressive we've seen so far. Large with an elaborate Italianate facade. And although a few people are milling about, it's not overly crowded. However, by the time we pay our entrance fee, we see (literally) busloads of organized tours heading our way. This is the Heidelberg we feared.

We opt to pay a bit extra for an English tour, because otherwise we would be relegated to the grounds and unable to enter the actual Schloss building. But this means we have 45 minutes to kill, so we wander the pretty grounds and enjoy the morning and the view of Heidelberg and the Neckar River below.

By now, there are people everywhere! The English tour is enthusiastically led by a Heidelberg native. She treats us to many engaging stories. We learn of the fire that destroyed the castle in the 1700's after which time the castle was permanently in ruins. In fact, townspeople further dismantled the castle to use the stone for their homes. We are fortunate because the group includes only us and a newly married young couple, so the tour is quite intimate and we thoroughly enjoy our informative tour.

After the castle, we walked through Heidelberg looking for an impressive cathedral. The hotel lady said it was not to be missed. We visited all three churches but really weren't impressed by any and weren't sure what she was talking about. Again the town is overrun with tourists and we see the only other Starbucks we've seen for the entire trip (the other was in Munich). We see lots of chain stores like Subway.

We have difficulties getting out of Heidelberg because the Nav system does not know about the current Autobahn on-ramp closures. The complicated one way, non linear streets of Heidelberg delay us by at least 30 minutes as we make our way to the alternative on ramp, sans Navigation.

Finally off to Fulda. Joe hits 190 KPH in our Mercedes! A little too fast, so we slow down. Joe is excited to return to Fulda after 25 years. He was stationed there in the army, 11th ACR, in the late 1980's and hasn't been back since. We are a bit worried given the Hotel Kredell's opinion of modern Fulda. But as we pass Frankfurt and head an hour more down the autobahn toward Fulda, the green rolling hills are pleasant and not at all industrial.

We arrive in Fulda at about 3pm. The town is definitely more built up than Joe remembers. It looks like a regular city. The Arte Altstadt Hotel is small but our room is great--a top floor suite with a gigantic bathroom, separate bedroom, full kitchen, lots of storage, tons of windows and even a balcony. Probably the easiest and largest place we've stayed at, although the modern interior is not as romantic as some of our other locations. Still, it's clean and big and easy. And we've got a full fridge and oven. We are very happy!

There's still lots of daylight, so we're off to explore. Hey, they're having a Fest in the old town! We grab some bier and bratwurst. Wendy trys the currywurst that Joe remembers, but Wendy finds it only okay. Julia is upset because she doesn't want more wurst.

We walk a few blocks by the Dom (cathedral) and into the nearby Michaelskirche, the oldest church in Germany. St. Michael's Church is unlike any other church Wendy has seen...octagonal, dark and small. St. Michael's Church dates back to between 819 and 822 and was the burial chapel of the monastery cemetary. The church has a crypt from the Carolingian period. Joe is reminded how cool the churches of Fulda are.

We walk back toward the Dom. The Fulda Cathedral was built circa 1704 and is one of the most impressive baroque buildings we've seen. The cathedral's great religious significance is due to the tomb of St. Boniface which is still a place of pilgrimage today. We move to the adjoining Dom Museum which has some great art...and also St. Boniface's skull! Lots of Archbishop ceremonial clothing. The kids play in the grass outside the Dom. Margaret somersaults from one end to another.

As the museum is closing and we need to leave the gardens, we walk one block down to the Dahlia garden. The flowers are giving a full show--over thirty varieties of dahlia are blooming. We see the nearby hexenturn...the scary witch's tower. We hate to think about what happened there.

On the walk back home, we stop for ice cream and head for the hotel. Joe and Julia leave to drive around a bit--Joe is interested in seeing more. While Wendy and the small kids rest, Joe and Julia check out the barracks and drive around Fulda. Joe is moved by all he sees. He walks through the old Hercules that was the theatre and bowling alley where all the GIs hung out. It is closed down and deserted. Very strange for Joe.

Afer Joe and Julia return, the family goes out to the Fest for more bier (local Hochstift) and Alex and Margaret dance to the band. The crowd gets a bit hard and heavy and it's getting late. We walk around the corner and go to San Remo for pizza. The waiter is good spirited and teaches us some more German. Good German pizza. Wendy has one with capers that she really likes. Everyone's happy.

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