Barge going through the Neckar Lock

I continue with our experiences in Europe in 2010. We had gone on this tour with the main aim of attending the Passion Play in Oberammegau which we did and found to be outstanding.

We then travelled as a group for another week to Salzburg, Austria and followed by other towns and cities in Bavaria. This article describes day 6 of our coach tour. We  travelled to Heidelberg via Rothenburg as a change of itinerary and so only arrived in Heidelberg in the later part of the afternoon. This was not a problem as it was early August and so there was daylight until after 9pm. The hotel was located right on the bank of the River Neckar so, once we had completed booking in, most of us decided to walk along the river and watch the barges and boats sail by.

Barge going through the Neckar LockA barge going through a lock

There was a lot of this sort of river traffic and it was amazing to see what some of them carried by way of cargo – sand, coal, wood etc. and mostly in very large amounts so the load must have been heavy. It was interesting to see that most of the barge ‘drivers’ also had their own car on board so that, when they stopped for the night, they were able to go into the local town for a meal or whatever else they needed.

Not far up the river from the hotel there was a lock and we watched 3 or 4 barges go through. A really fascinating process to watch. Overlooking this whole area is the Heidelberg Castle which we did not have time to visit, not only because of its distance from the hotel, but also because it was undergoing repair at the time.

 Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

Further up the road from the hotel was the university part of which had once been the student jail which was opened due to complaints by local residents over noise made by students. The university had the right to detain students for three days to a month. This practice was stopped in 1910.

Part of old prisonPart of former student prison

Directly opposite the hotel  was the Heidelberg Bridge also known as the Alta Brücke or Old Bridge. It is 200m wide with a beautiful tower at one end which previously also had a gate . On one side of the entrance to the bridge is a brass sculpture of a monkey which is one of the main tourist attracttions in Heidelberg. Its head is hollow and many people put their heads into the it for a photo. The current monkey has been there since 1979 but there had been one there in the 15th century but was removed during a war in the latter part of the 17th century.

Towers at end of bridgeTowers at end of the bridge

Trevor Vicky on BridgeStanding beside the monkey

At the hotel end of the bridge are markings on the side of the bridge showing the heights of floods since the late 19th Century. They have raised the river by up to 8m at times and a gradual increase in height has been noticed has been observed as time has passed. Does this give any suggestion of climate change?

Flood levels 1947 1970 1993Flood levels over the years

the Karl Theodore Bridge built in 1788 after many wooden bridges had been washed away in floods.  It is built of the same red stone as that used to build the Town Hall Tower in Rothenburg

Carl Theodor 18th Century bridgeThe Karl Theodore Bridge

In the evening we had dinner at a lovely hotel called the Hotel Zum Ritter Zum Georg. It was a short walk from our hotel and the food  was excellent. For those who remember, 2010 was the year that South Africa hosted the FIFA World Soccer Cup and we so surprised to see a shop next door to the Ritter which was selling all sorts of World Cup paraphernalia, including vuvuzelas. Made us all feel right at home. We walked back to the hotel at about 10:30pm on a beautiful moonlit night.

Hotel RitterWhere we had dinner

It was still quite amazing to think back to all we had seen and done in one day. We all felt so blessed.


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