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Onward in Germany: Mainz to Heidelberg

Posted on October 20, 2010 by Holly Hayes
Part of: UK and Western Europe

IMG_0161 Old Town, Heidelberg

Well, the strike and fuel blockade situation in France is only getting worse, so we have now committed to skipping it altogether and are heading the other way, deeper into Germany. It's sad, as there are a lot of wonderful things to see in France, but it's hard to be too sad since we will spend more time in Germany and Austria, which are also fabulous. We're still working on the new itinerary, but it looks like we'll basically stop in a couple cities in Bavaria and Austria over the next week, then end up in Switzerland as planned before parting ways.

More Deliciousness in Mainz

Before leaving Mainz, we had lunch at the restaurant we enjoyed so much for dinner the night before (see last post). We sat upstairs this time, but ended up having the same great waitress. She recognized us and teased us good-naturedly, warning us that she was off tomorrow but would be back the next day! We had another seriously awesome meal - other German restaurants on our trip will have a lot to live up to!

IMG_9920 I ordered the same thing I usually do at Gustav's back in Portland - lentil soup and potato cakes with applesauce. Yum! Gustav's does a great lentil soup but this was a little better, mainly because the lentils and vegetables were cooked a little less. A bit salty, though. But overall: awesome.

IMG_9922 The potato cakes (*kartoffelpuffer - so much more fun to order in German!) were definitely better than Gustav's, and the apple slices were a great addition. David had pork medallions with mushroom-cream sauce and noodles, and it was fantastic.

Adding to the fun, we shared a table with a German couple (a common practice in Germany in full restaurants) who tried to engage us in simple conversation in German. We tried hard and actually managed to communicate a bit about our lunch, our home in the States, and our travels. It was seriously hard and hurt the brain, though!

Heidelberg

After Mainz we spent two nights in Heidelberg, a pretty little city on the Neckar River about an hour south of Frankfurt. We stayed in a really comfortable, beautiful small hotel with views of the river.

IMG_0121 Our lovely room (#31) at the Villa Marstall

Although we had a bit of sunshine our first night in Heidelberg (as seen in the photo at the top of this post), it was cold and rainy the rest of the time so we didn't get many good pictures.

However, having a free day turned out to be a good thing, because we ended up spending several hours yesterday sorting out a major problem with our car rental. It's complicated, but the bottom line is that the insurance coverage provided by our American Express cards didn't work the way we (very reasonably) thought it did, so we had been driving around without insurance!

Thankfully we realized this before anything happened to the car, but it was a huge unexpected expenditure to buy insurance midstream from Hertz, plus David had to spend a lot of time at Heidelberg's Hertz office sorting it all out. We thought for awhile we might even have to trade in the car, which would have been really sad and a huge hassle, probably involving driving to Frankfurt. But at least it's done now and we're fully covered in our current car!

While David was on his long errand at the Hertz office, I went out in the rain to explore the city some more, and stopped for a light lunch of potato pancakes at one of the many German restaurants on the main street. I ended up sharing a table yet again, with two ladies around 60 who laughed and chatted with each other the whole time. They didn't try to talk to me after noticing the waitress speaking to me in English, but they were very nice and friendly. They wished me a warm Wilkommen when I joined them at the table and thanked me happily when I said Guten appetit when their food arrived - that's another fun German custom between strangers that I like very much.

This morning we had an unhealthy breakfast at Starbucks (chai tea lattes and pastries) mainly so we could use their free wifi (our hotel's internet wasn't working) - that was a friendly return to our Pacific Northwest homeland. Then, after checking out of our hotel and dragging our stuff to a somewhat distant parking garage, we took a funicular up to Heidelberg Castle. It was pretty impressive and had good views over the city, but the cloudy weather made for blah photos.

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Maulbronn Abbey

From Heidelberg we drove south to Maulbronn Abbey, a medieval Cistercian monastery that was designated a World Heritage Site because it's so well preserved. It was out of our way, but very cool and worth the trip. Not only the abbey church and cloister are still standing, but also many other buildings within the abbey walls, most of them half-timbered and very pretty. It has a very cozy feeling. And we could park easily and for free right in the heart of it. And we finally got some sunbreaks for our photos, which made us really happy. So it was a great time.

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Now we are in Nuremberg, where we'll stay for three nights. We arrived after dark and it has been pouring rain all night so we haven't seen any sights yet (other than the train station, where we found what passed for dinner), but hopefully the weather will improve for at least one of our two days here. It sounds like a great city with lots to see.