It’s a Sunday morning. Well, outside anyways. Inside I’m still in bed, my head full of dreamy bits, my body asleep and relaxed. It’s not early, it’s not late. A relatively quiet time. Even asleep I can sense the quieter Sunday morning solitude and I enjoy the abbreviated traffic noises from the main road that cuts through this village through the open window of my bedroom.
On weekdays the traffic noises begin to build around 04:30 and I’m certain most of that early morning rush is bakers on their way to their trades but on Saturdays and Sundays it is relatively calm out there.
What the hell am I writing about? I’ll tell you. It’s the Kandertalbahn. Go look it up on Facebook if you want. They have a page. It is an old steam driven railway line that runs the same stretch back and forth every Sunday for tourists, the curious and hobbyists from the first day of May all the way through the 20th day of October.
Yes it’s quaint, it’ pretty, it’s historic, it’s old, it’s in working condition, it brings in money and tourists, but it also is loud and irritating to many who live along its iron line.
Sure, it’s lovely to see something from days gone by, watch something like that chugging back and forth, forwards and backwards along track through a picturesque, lush and fertile bucolic valley landscape of farm fields, small quaint villages that lie 2 or so kilometers apart from the next and green capped forested hills. What’s not to like about that?
Bucolic southern German landscape
No argument there, but sorry no, I’ve not ridden it yet; not when I lived here as a teen nor since I’ve been back. In fact I was planning to do that this summer but that urge shrivels on my ‘things to do’ list every time that shrieking noise makes me cringe, six times every Sunday. And the worst of it is that sometimes I wish that I could somehow prevent that blasted whistle from issuing it’s evil sound. No surprise though that if I lived further away from the tracks I wouldn’t really give a rats ass what kind of noise that train made but what I’m afraid of is that if I were to visit somewhere else and heard such a whistle, I might believe it to be sunday.
What gets me and what I can’t get my head around is that this is Germany after all, a peace and quiet loving folk. They are known to enforce the Sabbath strickly where naught is done around the house if it makes any kind o f ‘working’ noise on the Lords day; one does that on Saturday. It’s not like N. America, not at all. But that damned infernal noise is apparently ok. Go figure.
I just heard the last shrill whistle blast of the day, for this whistle stop.
Now I get to listen to the receding if still muffled and audible whistle blasts as the loathsome Chanderli chuggs its metal way back to Kandern to await for its next weekends annoying assault on many ears. Frustratingly I just now realize that I still have two months of Sundays to get through. Grrrr …
Heidelberg a very old and romantic city, also very easy on the eyes; the old part that is. That was one of the reasons running through my head when I formed the idea to visit there with my daughter who was visiting Europe/Germany for the very first time.It’s a city in Germany. You may have heard of it. It’s kind of popular with the tourist crowd. It’s also renowned amongst the academically minded for it’s institutions of higher learning. Heidelberg is Germanys oldest university town.
Driving there from here was not an option as although there is a rapid route of travel known as the Autobahn here in Germany, it is also plagued with congestion issues that do not make for rapid travel as one would reasonably expect. Instead we opted for the logical alternative, the train. Even that option offers various modes from the normal commuter train to the high speed ICE experience. In this Bundesland/state/province of Baden Württemberg rail tourism is encouraged with discounted tickets offered at attractive prices (on the normal trains). For those with deeper pockets and less time the highspeed rail transit costs considerably more. We did the math and picked the rediculously low cost return ticket for two persons at 26 Euros as compared to the nearly 200 Euros for the high speed option.
The drawback to cheap travel are certain restrictions such as not being able to ride until 09:00 (a civilized time to begin anything), however when one considers the nearly four hour travel time to get to Heidelberg and adding in the equally long return trip and realizing the remaining available time between arrival and departure if one doesn’t want to get home too late, things begin to feel compressed.
Add to that that I forgot to take a look at Google Earth to see how the city was laid out. Erroneously I had assumed that Heidelberg might be similar to Freiburg (im Breisgau) ala step off the train, walk out of the train station and straight into the interesting bit of the city. I was wrong in that assumption, ill prepared and as blind as a wide eyed tourist set adrift in a strange new place.
In short time we realized the error of our pedestrian ways and jumped onto the next available bus in hopes of getting to the good parts of town quicker. With success. And only a vague feeling of confusion. But we had to make a choice, would we try to get to see the Schloss (romantic castle) or check out the ‘Alt Stadt’ (old city). Time was like mercury, running out if we were to keep our return schedule. Not a fun situation to be in when there is lots of cool things to see and I tried as best as I could to banish the thought that this little sightseeing jaunt was going to turn out to be a long train ride with a stop-over in Heidelberg.
Heidelberg castle above the academy sciences
As fortune would have it the rail line up the the castle was broken (technical issues we were told). That decided things for us and we relaxed and took it easy as we strolled the narrow streets of the old town on our way to the picturesque bridge spanning the Neckar river. From there we got a lovely touristy view of the castle up on the hill and mingled with the new invading hordes/tourists from nearly every corner of the globe.
tourist in orange
Honestly, I don’t much care for being a ‘tourist’ but no matter how I look at it, even though I live in Germany, I am a tourist when it comes to seeing new places. It can’t be helped I’m afraid.
We spent our time enjoying ourselves and after viewing the typical sights without wasting the little time we had, we stopped into an quaint old Brauhaus for something to eat and some local beer. As the tables along the front outside in the laneway were all occupied we sat inside with a view to the outside. The unexpected surprise of this lunch stop was a beer with the insane alcohol content of 33% touted as the strongest beer in the world. A rather sweetish treat on a warm day.
Vetter 33 beer
The rest of our remaining time was spent walking back to were we left the first bus that dropped us off at Universitaets Platz (not my own video; voice is not myself).
retro tour guide Heidelberg style
Just thinking about our return rail trip makes me tired and suffice it to say that you should take more than three hours to visit this charming city to really absorb some of the atmosphere and sense of it all. We rather enjoyed it and would gladly come back.
But we would want to do it without the three train there and three train back bit. To say that we were tired when we got home that night would be an understatement.