Part 1 - Paris to Heidelberg
I left on May 12 to spend the first few
days of my vacation in Paris, but I will not spend much time talking about that part of the trip. I stayed at a
wonderful small hotel located next door to the Louvre. It is inexpensive (for Paris) and quite charming. Breakfast
is not covered in the price of the room, but for an extra fee, they will provide it. I opted to do that and they
deliver it to your room at any time you request. If anyone is interested in the name and information on it, let
For the last few months, work has been quite stressful and I looked forward to relaxing away from the office. If you want peace and quiet on your vacation, Paris is not the place to find it. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, but at the same time one of the noisiest, busiest and most crowded. I was glad to get into Germany and the peace and quiet. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy Paris very much; I just needed something a little more peaceful on this trip.
After 3 cool-to-cold rainy days in Paris, I took an early morning train to Heidelberg where I stayed at the Hollander Hof Hotel, a lovely hotel located right on the river. There is just one small problem. It is just around the corner from a bier garden, which I understand is a favorite of Val's (Fadoinka) friend Carson. By about 10:00 p.m., it sounded as if they were having a really good time around there. However, I just closed my window and slept like a baby.
After checking into the hotel that afternoon, I took my trusty camera out for a walk. One of the fellows I work with was there the same day and I kept an eye out for him, and he kept an eye out for me, but we never ran into each other. I took the funicular up to the castle and visited there for a while. I'm here to tell you, I heard more English and Japanese spoken than I heard German. (Do you think Heidelberg is popular with the tourists?)
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Later I met Bob (BobinHeidelberg) for dinner. He gave me my choice of two restaurants, one of which specialized in spargle. I'm not a big fan of asparagus, but decided I wanted to try the famous spargle of Germany, so I chose the restaurant which specialized in that. Just a few minutes after we were seated, we looked out the window and it was raining so hard, you could barely see across the patio. It was also raining horizontally and lightening was popping like mad. We were glad we had made it inside before that started.
I wanted a salad with my meal so ordered one on the menu which sounded good. It was superb, but was a meal in and of itself. By the time my dinner was served, I was full and couldn't eat much of it. I will say, though, that the spargle was indeed quite yummy.
I was extremely tired that night and Bob dropped me off at the hotel after dinner. I had not slept well the 2 previous nights; first, because some dim-wit in another room at my Paris hotel started yelling at about 1:30 in the morning and woke me up and I couldn't go back to sleep; and second, because I had difficulty going to sleep the next night and then had to get up really early to catch my train.
After getting a good night's sleep in Heidelberg, I took a taxi to the Europcar office and picked up the car I had reserved through AutoEurope. I was given a Mercedes C220 (automatic transmission) and it was a lot of fun to drive.
I asked them if there was anything special
I needed to know about the car before I left. They said the only thing I needed to know was that it was a diesel.
A young man from the rental office drove me to a nearby location to head me in the right direction to drive along
the Neckar River. He opened the trunk with the automatic feature on the key and put my luggage inside.
After he left me, I decided to get some things from my luggage - not the least of which was my umbrella since it was raining. I tried and tried to open the trunk with the remote release on the key, but it wouldn't open. I hunted around and finally found the inside release, which was on the door. That wouldn't open the trunk either. Just about the time I decided I would have to wear the same clothes for the next 2 weeks, the door release worked. There are 2 things I need to point out here: first, I tried for the rest of the trip to get the trunk to open with the remote and it never once worked; two, there is NO PLACE to insert a key to open the trunk from the outside. Once I finally managed to open the trunk and get my umbrella and munchies - oh, did I mention that I always keep munchies in the car with me just in case starvation besets me while driving down the road - then it was off for the wide open spaces. Well, maybe not so wide open, but at least the beauty of the Neckar Valley.
It only took me about 10 kilometers to realize that my terrific little Mercedes had been "ridden hard and put away wet"! You already have learned that the trunk release had severe emotional problems and now you're about to find out about the passenger's seat. After driving just a few kilometers, I realized the position of the passenger's seat caused a blind spot. It was pushed all the way back and the back of the seat was in a "relaxed" mode causing the head rest to be right in my line of vision when checking out the right hand side to change lanes. I pulled over to the side of the road and got out to fix both. Mind you, the car only had 12,000 kilometers on it. Someone had shoved the passenger's seat back so hard that it was off the track and would not go forward. Additionally, the knob to adjust the back of the seat was broken and couldn't be moved. It was a good thing I was traveling alone or the person in the passenger seat would have been in a "lay-back" mode all the time. Oh, well, I just learned to go with the flow and not sweat the small stuff. Soon I was able to compensate and had no trouble with my line of vision.
I had a great time trying to figure out what everything meant in the car, and never did figure out most of it. At one point, the buttons on the steering wheel adjusted the radio volume and changed the station. Then I hit another button and it changed something - never did figure out what - and I was never again able to change stations or volume from the steering wheel. I decided to adjust the height of the steering column and was enjoying that until I realized the steering wheel was continually going up and down. Hmmm, this could be bad. Only after about 30 minutes, did I finally realize I had not put the knob back to fix the position of the column - well, duh!
In the midst of playing with knobs and
buttons on the car, I managed to enjoy the beauty of the Neckar River and the little towns along the way. It was
raining, so I didn't stop often but did stop in Mosbach for a while. I had visited there before and remembered
what a pretty little town it is.
I had decided to stay in Schwäbisch Hall that night since I'd never been there before. I found a place to park and asked someone where the Tourist Information Office could be found. She pointed me in the direction of the town square. Just as I rounded the corner and saw the square, I was in love. There in front of me lay one of the loveliest little towns I have visited in all of Germany. I knew I must stay there that night.
Part 2 -Schwäbisch