Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Sights and Sweet Pastries of Heidelberg, Germany

As a Filipino, the city of Heidelberg in Germany has been on my radar since I was a young girl. Because of Dr. Jose Rizal’s poem—‘To the flowers of Heidelberg’.

Wait, Dr. Jose Rizal who?

Jose Rizal is the Philippine’s national hero and he is also, surprise, surprise, my namesake, although my name sounded more feminine. Thanks to my mom and her Ob/Gyn who were both very creative in coming out of what it is today—my name. We were born on the same day and I can honestly say that I am the only person in this world that bears this unique and special name.

Dr. Jose Rizal studied and lived in Heidelberg, and although I am not into poetry, the place got stuck in my head. I have this vision of Heidelberg being so beautiful with the flowers he mentioned in his poem. But in this quick visit, which is actually a stop over to break up my road trip (pause + lunch + some sightseeing), I did not get to see a lot of flowers, instead, I saw a sundry of gorgeous mouth-watering sweet pastry goodies.

I have always known Germany as a pastry land. Bretzels, lebkuchen anyone? Remember Hansel and Gretel and the evil witch living in the forest in a house made of confection?

In Heidelberg one cannot ignore the ubiquituous patisseries dotting the old town’s cobbled streets. One can readily sample the different types of sweets and pastries advertised everywhere. Indeed people come and go, eager patrons, some regulars, other first-time visitors to the city wanting a piece of Heidelberg’s traditional delights, or even to just take pictures (like moi). If only I am into sweets I would have been in pure confectionery heaven.

But that doesn’t matter because although the sweet pastry stuff did not tempt me, I am mesmerised by the charming old town’s architecture, the dreamy panorama along the Neckar River with the elegant mansions sitting prettily, the antiquated stone bridge and the stunning castle ruins on top that has become the symbol of this medieval German town.

Heidelberg Altstadt 

Pictures of the old city centre of Heidelberg...

Karlsplatz — I parked my car in the underground of this square. Quite handy as it is in the centre and parking in Germany (as well as in France and in Switzerland) is crazily CHEAP. I guess anything outside the Netherland is cheap. We have a parking mafia in the Netherlands.

Here at Karlsplatz you can sight beautiful views to the feudal castle ruins.

Kornmarkt, this is right in front of the Rathaus (City Hall).

Typical Heidelberg treat: Schneeballen

This is for the sweet-toothed ones =)

These ball sugary and chocolatey goodies are everywhere in town. They looked so pretty and they come in different varieties. I am sure they scrumptious as well, but not for me though. I am born with a salty and sour taste.

Hmm, I should have bought a few as souvenir gift for the Dutchman, but that is too late now.

The Old Bridge, Neckar River and views to the Castle ruins

Heidelberg is just romantic, huh?

The official name of this old bridge is Karl Theodore-Brucke circa 1700's, taken from the name of its builder-architect-engineer. The 2 towers in those days served as bridge keeper, as well as a dungeon for prisoners.

The castle ruins looking enchanting on top of the hill.

Crossing the bridge is a must when in Heidelberg. Great photo opportunities here.

The popular 'rub me please' brass monkey

Legend has it that if you rub the round thing the monkey is holding (see how shiny it is) it will bring you good luck, in other words, riches. My question really is this--Who the heck started this silly trend? Because I seem to noticed this kind of practice in other cities I have travelled to as well--Prague, Rome, Brussels, Bremen, etcetera. There is always this statue somewhere that people line up to so they can rub it. Its like a wishing fountain but this time it is a statue. Imagine the thousands of people rubbing the thing (read: hygiene). Perhaps, this is much better than tossing a coin into a fountain because rubbing does not cost you a thing.

But it does sound silly right? It has been proven that human beings can be so naive, yet hopeful, and other times desperate. On the other hand, who knows, people might just be in it for fun? Well, that is fine as well. Rub it on...

The brass monkey is located right by the 2 towers on the bridge.

All the crazy and seemingly stupid things most tourists do when travelling to a new place.

Heidelberg goodies

Bakeshops are everywhere in the city! Treats such as the Heidelberger pflastersteine, winterkonigin, kursfurstenkugel, and more...

You will not go hungry on the streets here.

Marktplatz and the Church of the Holy Spirit

The Church of the Holy Spirit took 150 years to build and it was eventually finished in 1544. The interior was not as oppulent as I would have imagined it to be. It was bare, devoid from the usual glam, gold and trimmings, but then I read that this has been converted into a protestant church. I can see why now.

More Altstadt scenes

In the altstadt (old town) I also had my apfelstrudel lunch at Café Knoesel, the oldest cafe and confectionery in town. And of course not to forget, I tried the famous chocolate biscuit -- Heidelberger Student’s Kiss, the oldest Heidelberg treat.

Read the entry here: Where to go for lunch in Heidelberg (Cafe Knoesel) and a dose of romatic Heidelberger Student’s Kiss love story

Lastly, I saw a younger vision of Donatella Versace. I had to stop and look at her.

She was wearing a fur jacket, a tiger bag dangling on her hand, above the knee length skyscraper high heel boots (how she managed to walk on the cobbled streets escapes me), her face plump with botox and painted with very thick makeup, and her colourful scarf was trailing behind her. A group of tourists yelled at her that her scarf is about to fall off. She stopped and looked around, and yelled back, ‘GRAZIE (3x)!’

Yeah, I knew she was Italian to begin with. I think I need to visit Italy soon and do some needed fashionista watching.

Travel Period: April 2013
Destination: Heidelberg (Baden-Wurttemberg), Germany

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