Another visit with family in another great city.
08.04.2013 - 10.04.2013 4 °C
We got off a couple of stops early on the overnight train we had already booked to Freiburg to meet Russ and Sheila in Heidelberg. We met them at their hotel for a yummy German breakfast and then went out to see the city. We spent the next couple of days seeing the city and surroundings with them, and now we’re finally on our way back to Freiburg.
On our first day in the city after breakfast we went to the Heidelberg castle. It was badly damaged in a French invasion quite a long time ago, and they’ve left it that way. I think one reason was at the time there just wasn’t a lot of money for the rebuilding, but after some time the half-destroyed castle became a sort of symbol of the city, and now they actually do work to preserve it in its exact current state, which I find kind of odd. Either repair it or don’t, but it seems odd to make an effort to keep it in its current sort of half-done state. I think it has a lot to do with famous paintings of the city showing the castle this way. Either way, it was really something to see and we got a great tour of the interior from a rather funny German guide.
That evening we went to a concert at the university, which is the oldest in Germany, and got to see the Old University Hall, which was really great. Freiburg is also a beautiful and very, very old university, but the original buildings aren’t in use for classes anymore. All the buildings where we have classes are new, modern lecture halls, so you don’t really feel like you’re at a university over 500 years old.
On our second day we went for a little hike around the forest surrounding the city and made it to some really amazing ruins. For one, there was an amphitheatre on the top of the hill which was built by the Nazis in 1935 using slave labour, and was opened for propaganda presentations. Beyond this amphitheatre were ruins of a 9th century monastery, which has been abandoned since the 16th century, apparently because a roof-collapse killed the last three remaining monks. Surrounding this entire mountain were ruins of a wall which was built by the Celts in the 4th century! It was just so fascinating to see all these layers of completely unrelated history piled on top of one another, as if they had no idea at the time what they were building, and where. All this in a little academic city not in any particularly useful location.
We got rained on pretty severely on our hike down the mountain that day, and it rained again the next day. It worked out alright anyway, and we went to a “Packaging Museum”. I know, maybe doesn’t sound that interesting, but on the inside it was really cool. They had all kinds of factory equipment used for packaging different things and labels of all sorts of German brands over the years. One particularly interesting piece was a special edition tin of cigarettes made for the titanic, which a survivor carried out with them. There are three known left in the world. The museum turned out to be great and the man working there gave us a great tour; I would definitely recommend the packaging museum, as uninteresting as it may sound.
We had one last meal with Russ and Sheila before getting onto our train back to Freiburg. It’s never fun saying goodbye, but it just makes me look forward to the next time I’ll see everyone – hopefully in the summer. This was the final stop on our semester break trip and now we’re going back to Freiburg for a while. Classes start full swing on Monday, so hopefully this semester my classes will all work out. I wish we could keep travelling; there are so many more places I would love to see, but at the same time I’m excited to get settled somewhere for a little while at least and get back to school. There are quite a few holidays this semester since Baden-Württemberg gets both the Protestant and Catholic holidays, being one of the only “mixed” states, so we’ll be doing a few shorter trips later on, but for now I guess it’s time to get on our last train for a while.