The Fly-ing Welcome

The toilet-sized flies are annoying, particularly in summer. They flit in and out, announcing their arrival with loud, stereophonic buzzes. The smaller ones are green, with spindly legs, seem to have a penchant for landing in my drink. I go berserk the moment they land on my skin.

A flying welcome to Heidelberg.

I landed in a clinically silent Frankfurt Terminal 2, only to find out that the real action takes place (the trains and the buses to Strasbourg/Mannheim/Heidelberg) in Terminal 1. So I rushed to Terminal 1, expecting to catch the Lufthansa Shuttle to Heidelberg, only to find that it was not the big bus that I expected, but a tiny mini-bus that was fully booked by random people. The pinkish, rotoundish driver asked me in high-pitched German if I had a reservation, and thought my name was ‘San’.

When I said no, he then curtly told me that I needed to wait another hour for the next shuttle before waddling away.

Met some irate Germans waiting for another Airport shuttle to Strasbourg, and was unexpectedly regaled with a barrage of complaints that they had bottled up since 2.5 hrs ago as they waited for a bus that never arrived. In desperation, I saw (or rather, God provided), yet another shuttle to Heidelberg by a private bus company that charged exorbitant rates. But we hit the Autobahn the whole way. Cars go mad on it – need I say more?

Thankfully Petra and I still recognised each other when she picked me up. The place that she has is way bigger than the one she had in Coburg when I visited her, and in some conspiratorial fashion, told me that she knew the landlord and had somehow arm-twisted him into giving her half the price of the apartment smack in the middle of the city.

Indeed, this lovely town is worth it – one only has to share the cool romance of this town with 3 million other visitors here, the Japanese tour groups being the notorious trigger-happy, hat-wearing culprits. Surrounded by green hills, a large, imposing castle dominates the rolling skyline (doesn’t every town boast in some sort of medieval castle ever?), and the Philosophen Weg that brought me uphill was thankfully quiet in the escalating heat of the summer morning.

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Petra came back after a half-day’s work, and brought me to the other side of the Neckar river, and wisely advised to simply take the historical funicular (Swiss technology, she says) up from Kornmarkt to Königstuhl (the highest point), before walking down to the ruins of the Heidelberg Castle while going easy on the legs.

I was hesitant to go up by the funicular (foolishly wanting some more exercise) until I saw the steepness required of the potential climb while struggling the whole way down on a knee that was still more or less injured. The trek down from Königstuhl was incredibly vertical and I took the chance to remind myself that I was more or less in some sort of ‘forest’ until the ruins of the Castle a couple of hundred meters down peeked through the trees.

The trip to see the romance of the ruins and hear of its grand history is almost christened a pilgrimage of sorts by trigger-happy tourists, yet seemingly besmirched by the locals as they jog by without batting an eyelid.

The view is however, admittedly breathtaking.

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