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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Great Journey to Europe – Part VI

The next morning finds us docked in Mannheim. But first is the early bird breakfast at 0630good eggs, bacon and sausage. This morning, we sit with Dave and Joyce (Rencurrel) plus Buddy and Carolyn (Morgan). Great discussion and rehashing of yesterday’s adventures.

The buses are on the dock and we load up for the short trip to Heidelberg. Passing through the highly industrialized city of Mannheim, there is very little to look at. But just prior to getting on the autobahn, we are treated to a wonderful park, about a full sized city block, right on the outskirts of the city. Amazingly, there had to be a couple hundred rabbits scurrying around the park in the early morning. I was on the wrong side of the bus to get a picture, but what a sightthey were everywhere!

We had a better guide today, but no nonsense was gonna be on the docket today. Her translation was pretty good, but her answers to questions asked from the group was a bit too literalthe outgoing translation was fine (most likely to rehearsal but the English to German and return in English left a bit to be desired.

Soon, we arrive at the Heidelberg Castle. It sits right on the slopes of Mount Königstuhl some seventy meters above the Neckar River in the foothills of the Odenwald forest overlooking the entire valley.
 The Heidelberg Castle

This is a pretty fascinating place that has been at this site some 700 plus years. But, due to the wars and turbulence that those years held, there is only one real building still standing and we didn’t get to enter it at all. The rest of the place is mainly facades. The one remaining building did have a neat sun dial affixed to its exterior.

The One remaining building

 One of the many facades

 Check out the sun dial on the building's face

However, the wine cellar did hold a fascinating piece. Made from 130 oak trees and claimed to be the largest wine barrel in the world with a capacity of 221,726 liters (58,573.8 gallons US)that’s a’lotta wine.

 Use Randy at bottom center as a bench mark

Back on the bus, we are transported into the Heidelberg center. A group of us (Buddy, Jim and I) stake out a couple of tables to check out the local fare and take in the activities on the square while most of the ladies go off to shop. Carolyn shows up and tells us that she has sent Jerry the wrong direction. Buddy and I head off to rescue Jerry while Carolyn discovers which of the local beers we are to try. A pretty good ways down the street, we locate Jerry and I lead him back to our table while Buddy tries to locate a German bank that just might be open on Saturday. Jerry ordered some “beer bread” and pretzels that we all shared that with our beer when it arrives. Fairly soon, Patsy and Leslie show up, having not purchased a souvenir yet. In the mean time I have found and purchased a Heidelberg hat that needs to be added to my collection (approaching 300, if not there already). The recommended beer was pretty good!

Heidelberg from the castle walls

 Howard, Jim Clemments, Carolyn & Buddy Morgan, 
Ginger & Jerry Leininger

My new Heidelberg hat!

On the buses again and finally back in Mannheim, the Amadeus Elegant is again headed down the Rhine.

As we embarked the boat, Steve Poynor (Class of ’72 & Odessa) and Ken Theut (Class of ’76 & Katy) noticed that the boat we had to cross to get to ours is flying the Longhorn Flag of Texas University (tu) and decides to accomplish a little mischief. They stealthily sneak back onto the other boat and make their way to the bow to attempt to remove the flag and re-hoist it upside down. Learning of the attempt, the Amadeus Elegant is alive with activity. Long story short, they are discovered by one of the sailors aboard the other craft, but he finally understands the purpose, chuckles a bit and then accomplishes the task for Steve and Ken.

 tu Flag upside down (just received from an undisclosed source)

Casting off and we are once again headed down the Rhine. We often pass caravan camps right on the river banks where the German people take some of their summer holidays. But of course, there are also those that make their home right on the river as well.

 Lots of caravan parks along the Rhine River

 This guy had his whole life sitting on the river bank
At 3 PM, we are treated to a lecture by Professor Josiah Osgood (Georgetown University) “Rome enters the Rhineland.” Prof Osgood explains the history of Rome (Julius Caesar primarily) conquering the area of Gaul and trying the same with the Germanic people. The Prof takes us on a ride through Julius, Augustus, Deuces, and Tiberius’ adventures with the Germans and their failures that proves to be fairly interesting. The way it seems is: the Romans united the German people.

We settle in to watch the German riverside pass by and await the next port of call: Rüdesheim, Germany.

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