I am seriously excited to share my very first guest post today! Erinn & I went to high school together in Half Moon Bay. When she moved to Germany she started adventuring around Europe, filling my Facebook feed with gorgeous images of her adventures as an American expat. She started blogging her experiences, sharing some fun stories & beautiful scenery, & has been slowly working through a (very lovely & realistic) travel wishlist that makes me insanely jealous & extremely happy for her. Today on the blog, Erinn’s sharing the best of her first hometown in Germany, one that will always have a place in her heart. & with that: Erinn, take it away!
When I found out in May of 2011 that I would be moving to Heidelberg, Germany, I had no idea just how lucky I was. Little did I know that I was heading to one of the most charming, romantic, & beautiful cities in Europe, with over three million visitors each year. Now that my time in Heidelberg has come to an end, I am sitting back & reminiscing on all that this wonderful city has to offer.
The most notable part of Heidelberg is, of course, the castle perched on top of the hill. The ruins of Schloss Heidelberg can be reached by foot (about 500 steps) or by cable car at the Kornmarkt station. From the top, you are rewarded with beautiful views of the city below, including the Neckar River & the Alte Brücke (old bridge).
If you choose to take a tour of the castle, you learn the history of the kings who lived there. You also learn that the castle did not have running water, but instead, running wine!
Since the dirty water in Europe at the time could be deadly, everybody found it safer to drink wine. For this reason, the Heidelberg castle is home to the largest wine barrel in the world, equipped to hold over 58,000 gallons of wine.
Below the castle & along the river is the Altstadt of Heidelberg, the “old town,” which consists of cobblestone streets lined with shops, clothing stores, restaurants, & ancient buildings with baroque style architecture. Also spread throughout the Altstadt are the old & new University buildings, a student prison from the 18th century, the Church of the Holy Spirit (constructed in the 15th century), & much more.
It’s possible to spend countless hours wandering the streets of Heidelberg & each time you revisit this city, you see something you have not already seen before. If you are lucky enough to visit Heidelberg during Christmas season, you will see the entire city covered in Christmas decorations for the annual Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market). At the Christmas Market, you can shop for all sorts of gifts, ornaments, trinkets, clothing, scarves, &more, while enjoying a mug of Glühwein (hot, spiced wine) & a bratwurst.
If you choose to cross the Alte Brücke to the other side of the Neckar River, you can hike Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s Way) to the top of the Heiligenberg (Holy Mountain). This famous trail has been frequented by many philosophers & authors, & is said to be the spot where American author Mark Twain gained his writing inspiration. Throughout the hike, you are rewarded with gorgeous, panoramic views of the city below. You also stumble upon old & forgotten watch towers built during times of war (climb up at your own risk). At the top of the mountain, you’ll find the ruins of St. Michael’s Monastery, dating back to the 13th century. Also at the top is Thingstätte, an old amphitheater that was used by Hitler & his Nazi followers during World War II as a place for rallies & gatherings. Give yourself a good two hours for the hike up the Holy Mountain, as it is long & steep, but extremely rewarding to see these bits & pieces of history.
I had the pleasure of living in Heidelberg from September 2011 through April 2013 (just over a year & a half). In August of this year, the US Army Garrison Heidelberg closes its doors permanently after almost 70 years of having a military presence in the community. The timing of my husband’s assignment to Germany was perfect because we got to be part of the last group ever stationed in Heidelberg.
After living in Heidelberg, I can absolutely see why it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The beauty & charm of this little city is captivating. I know I left a piece of my heart there when it came time to leave.
Erinn Forester grew up in Half Moon Bay & graduated from UCLA. She got married in 2011 & moved with her husband to Germany, where he currently serves as a member of the US Military Police force. She has two furry, four-legged children who mean the absolute world to her. Traveling is her passion & she knows that her time spent living in Europe is only the beginning of a lifetime of adventure. Erinn blogs about her adventures at Foresters in Germany.