After getting to bed around 4am that morning, it was nearly lunch time before I awoke.  Wolfgang was home and chatted with me over breakfast, helping to find out about the trains from near Westhofen.  The weather was not good and in all honesty I didn’t feel up to another long haul, so I planned to take a train from the nearby village of Osthofen to Mannheim and then cycle the remaining distance to Heidelberg.  

The ride to Osthofen was quite pleasant as the rain held off until just as I reached the station.  When I went to buy a ticket it turned out that the machine would only accept up to 10 Euro notes – I only had a 20.  So I went back to the village in search of a cash machine and withdrew a sum for my next week or so.  What did it give me?  A 100 euro note.  Great.  I had to queue inside the bank for a good 10 minutes to change it.

Back at the station, I bought my ticket and hopped on the train.  To the best of my abilities to understand it appeared that taking a bike after 9am was free, so I only had to pay about 6 Euro for myself.  Like many of the other trains in The Netherlands and Germany this one had a good large bicycle compartment with seating, and helpful passengers who will assist in getting a ridiculously heavy bike up the steps.  At the next stop a large man with many bags came onboard and sat opposite me.  He began speaking to me until I explained I couldn’t understand.  Through stilted German and English we conversed and I discovered he was from Hungary, without a home, and travelling to Mannheim, through I’m not sure for what purpose.  I explained I was going to Heidelberg and then on the Venice which induced him to go on about the high costs of Venice at some length.  Eventually he stopped talking at me and I was able to eat my half finished apple.  

At Mannheim we parted ways and I took the lift to the station hall to get something to eat.  Since it was raining and it appeared there was no likelihood of it stopping I decided to take the easy option and catch the next train the rest of the way to Heidelberg.  Not the most efficient way of doing things since it cost me 4 Euro more than if I had bought the ticket to Heidelberg originally, but it was wet and I was tired.

My host in Heidelberg was Jurgen who live in Eppelheim, about 3km from the city centre.  He lived in a flat with two other girls although didn’t seem to have much to do with them.  It turned out I would be sleeping in his room, in his be while he slept on a mattress on the floor.  After I had unpacked he took me out to the local kebab place and we bought something for dinner.  To be honest it was actually one of the nicest kebabs I’ve had, though it did have three different kinds of cabbage in it. 

The next day Jurgen had to be off to work at 7am, so I found myself on his doorstep in the rain and the dark just after 7am re-planning my day.  I had intended to cycle around Heidelberg, but the heavy rain put me off.  As I was using the wifi to find out about public transport one of his flatmates came out and was very friendly, directing me to the nearest tram into town and explaining how to get home again.  

I arrived in the centre of Heidelberg about 7.45am and the sun was just beginning to rise.  I decided to act like a local and found an open café to have a croissant and a cup of tea for breakfast.  By then it was light and I headed out to explore.  Initially I went the wrong way and ended up walking through the new part of town, but then crossed back over the river into the alt stadt.
Heidelberg old town.
I had been told Heidelberg was a very beautiful old city, and I suppose that was true, but the miserable weather and the fact that I had recently been through a number of cute old villages meant that I was less impressed than I had hoped.  Still, I took a look around the city and walked along the longest pedestrian only shopping street in the world.  I found a little café that had a lovely conservatory area out the back and went inside for a hot chocolate and a chance to sit at a table and write some postcards in the warm.  I also investigated some department stores for a cheap t-shirt to wear south of the alps, but there was nothing left in the shops that was nice enough in my price range.  I did however find a new watch to replace the old one that had stopped working.

For lunch I walked up to the castle and around the grounds.  The castle is a ruin now, started in the 11th century and repeatedly hit by lightning it was abandoned in the 1700s.  I found a little shelter in a garden and ate my bread and cheese and read a little of my book.  
Heidelberg Castle ruins.
On my way down from the hill I came across an interesting sculpture in the grounds, and the official entrance to the castle (with convenient free toilets!). The sculpture was made by nailing short narrow planks of wood together in what appears to be a very haphazard way.  For some reason it really took my fancy.
Plank art.
Walking back down the hill I visited the university library and took a look at the Manesse Codex, a famous book of mediaeval German poetry written in the early 1300s.  I was able to get a close enough look to see the texture of the parchment and the guide lines scored into it for the writing. 
The Manesse Codex.
Because my host did not get home till after 7pm I wandered around the old town some more then headed back to the new part and found a supermarket to buy some necessities.  In the mall it was attached to there seemed to be a cheap and popular Asian restaurant, so I went there and ordered something hot for dinner while I waited.  It was nice to have something other than bread for a change.  My train the following morning would leave the main station at 6.57am so I decided to check out the railway station on my way home and walked back along the route I was to take to the station in the morning.  I had been a long day and I was glad to get to bed.


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