My wife went off to work a half day while the children and I stayed behind to get the hotel room straightened up and our stuff packed. We did that fairly quickly, which meant playground time and some more wandering in Vaihingen. We returned to the same playground across the street from our hotel. The children loved it, especially since the weather finally broke and we had glorious sunshine and blue skies smiling upon us.
After the playground, we wandered the streets for a bit just to get some more flavor of the area. We found a cinema that was showing mostly American movies (like Conan and Midnight in Paris) dubbed. Jacob enjoyed the different cars and trucks. Lucy enjoyed being carried.
We returned to the hotel for a last visit to the workout room and to get our bags. As we headed down the elevator, we walked out and right into Mommy! The kids and their parents were delighted. After checking out, we went to the train station to get tickets to Heidelberg.
Buying tickets proved more difficult than it should have. We waited for quite some time behind a fellow in corduroy pants with an almost matching sweater who seemed to be buying a bazillion train tickets from the ticket agent. Eventually it was our turn and we bought the Lander ticket, which allows a group of up to five people to travel on any of the regional trains in a given state all day. Stuttgart and Heidelberg are both in Baden-Wurtemberg, so the ticket covered us for our travels. At 31 Euros, it was definitely cheaper than two adult tickets. We also bought our ticket for the return on Thursday (we fly home on Saturday from Stuttgart).
We took the local train into the center of Stuttgart where we transferred to a Regional Express. The local train was part of the subway system and was included on the Lander ticket. The station was a big sprawling complex. We had to go two blocks and up two flights of stairs to get to platform 9 (Gleis 9 in German) where our train awaited us. We had about an hour before the train left, so we went to one of the cafes to get lunch and keep the kids occupied.
The train station is much like any other big train station I've seen. A long hallway is full of merchants, mostly selling food, with a scattering of tables and over-sized advertising all over the place. The platforms are all next to each other with big locomotives sitting there waiting to take us on our merry way. Our particular train was a double-decker. We chose to go upstairs for the better view of our adventure.
|Impressive train station|
|Ready to go!|
|Trainsformers seek and find book|
Lucy did pass the time with a lolly pop, though the results left her blue:
|Mightier than sword or pen!|
By the time we got to the hotel, she had fallen asleep and was faking her own death.
|Not the most flattering picture, sorry Lucy!|
Our hotel, Vier Jahreszeiten, gave us room 23, which didn't seem too bad. The front desk man told us we were at the top of the hotel. So we went up one stair case. Then another, then another, finally we were there. I left one of the bags half way up since I also had two backpacks with me. I went back and retrieved the suitcase after a little break. The staircases have narrow steps and wind around. Jacob loved it but we definitely planned before going downstairs so we didn't have to come back up until the next nap/bed time. We do have an awesome view of the Necker River and the old bridge.
|The Old Bridge as seen from our hotel room|
|Up river as seen from our hotel room|
After a rest and Lucy's revival, we wandered the immediate area of the hotel, known as the Altstadt, or the old town. We found a place to buy milk for Lucy near the Heiliggeistkirche, the main church in the area. More on that church in another post.
|Even the road was named after the church!|
The church square had a fountain with Hercules on top, though he was topped by a bird. Hmm-just like the statue of Wilhelm in Stuttgart. I wonder if the pigeons think they are required to roost there.
|One of the many zillions of fountains we found in Germany|
|Hercules great unfinished 13th labor, get that damn pigeon off my head!|
The Catholic church was further up town and built in the 1700s as a counter-Reformation answer to the "reformers." More on that church in another post.
We looked around a bit for somewhere for dinner. We finally settled on the rather un-German sounding Coyote Cafe (right across from Starbucks, no less). I had some delicious barbecue ribs and wings, which aren't really German cuisine. But I did have a nice hefe-weise to go with it. The kids enjoyed some simple penne in tomato sauce.
We came back down to the river and went to the old bridge, a popular and picturesque spot. We went through the fancy gates and ran into an accordion player who was busking with his two dogs. Jacob and Lucy were given money for his cup, but the feisty little dogs were a bit of an obstacle. With a little encouragement from us (and some reigning in from the musician), we managed to give some change for the nice music.
|A Herculean task for her|
We also discovered a lot of padlocks on the bridge. Anywhere a loop of metal would allow, someone (or some two) had put a padlock with initials carved on it. Apparently it's a tradition in some cities to carve your initials on a padlock and attach it to a bridge to show your love for each other. At least the couple isn't carving up trees.
|That's our hotel on the right, easy walking distance to everything!|
Our final stop was the brass monkey statue, another famous stop recommended by the guide books.
|That's a mirror in his hand and some mice off to the left|
The story goes that if you touch the monkey, you will come back to Heidelberg. If you touch the mirror he's holding, you will be rich. If you touch the mice nearby, you will have lots of children. Without explaining it to him, Jacob immediately went to touch….
|He probably thought it was a gong or other musical instrument|
At least one of us will be rich. I touched the monkey, because I've been having a good time and want to come back to this wonderful place already, even though we haven't even explored the castle or the philosopher's walk yet.