When the sun is shining…
Spring is here and looking its best. The mountains of Heidelberg are draped in gorgeous shades of emerald towering over the Neckar which lies beneath as still as glass. As I run between class and home, everyone around me seem to be enjoying an ice-cream cone. Although, I have a MA thesis to write and have only three months to accomplish the mammoth task, I cannot help but catch the Spring fever. It takes enormous self restraint to sit in front of the computer, as the sun shines brilliantly over the red sandstone buildings outside. So I tell myself that studying surely is important but so is leisure. As the old saying goes, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. If you are studying at the University of Heidelberg, the following work as great hang-outs after classes or weekends:
- The cafes of Alstadt (the Old City): Coffee, cakes and beer are popular excuses to hang out with friends and the Hauptstrasse and the alleys of Alstadt offers ample opportunities to do so. As for the cafes and bars, there are so many to name that I feel that it would be unfair to the others to mention only a few.
- The banks of the Neckar: Picnics and barbecues accompanied by music and dancing with friends makes the best of a sunny day. Complete unadulterated fun!
- The Botanischer Garden and Zoo: The botanical gardens on the university campus is nice for a lazy afternoon stroll. The zoo however takes a couple of hours for a thorough visit. It is a fun place to be especially if there are children to be entertained.
- Hiking to Konigstuhl: Now, although, there is a funicular railway from the Kornmarkt all the way up to Konigstuhl, free of cost for students having semester tickets, I sometimes prefer to do some uphill climbing as I find it more satisfying. You will pass the Heidelberg Castle and the ruins on the Molkelkur along the way as you make your way up to Konigstuhl or King’s Throne, which is elevated at 576 meters, the highest point of the mountain.
- Neckarsteinach: It is worthwhile spending 15 minutes in train (catch it from S Bahnhof Alstadt) to visit all the four ruins of the castles in Neckarsteinach. Hiking up the hills will help strengthen those calf muscles while the soul will be soothed, as you take in the breathtaking scenery around you.
- The Philosophenweg, Thingstatte and Schlangenweg: In my earlier writeup, I mentioned how the winding path offers panoramic views of the castle and the city as it leads to the Thingstätte , a Nazi-era amphitheatre.
However, outdoor activities depend on good weather. Although it is officially Spring, personally, I suspect that Heidelberg (whom I lovingly refer to as Heidi) suffers from bipolar disorder which is why she switches back and forth between rain and shine, often without any prior warnings. So make sure you do not leave the house without an umbrella or a raincoat. Because even if you see azure blue skies bedecked with wisps of cotton candy clouds above the mountains radiant with molten sunlight, do not be fooled. It takes only a minute or two for those skies to turn into fifty shades of grey and dampen your picnic basket and spirit, alike.