Friday 16th September
I mentioned before that our planning is a bit non existent and this trip has taken even less time than any other trip we have made. For a year or two we’ve been saying Dusseldorf and Oktoberfest but never thought about joining the dots or looking for places to visit in between and it was left to a quick browse of the map. However, one thing I did do was get out my I-Spy book of german castles and plotted them all on my European atlas. I also googled the top ten places to visit and circled all those places so after our visit to Bingen I was looking where to go and this little place called Ladenburg was sitting in the right place with a ring around it and a stellplatz.
It was only when we arrived and read through the tourist leaflet that we discovered why we had travelled here!
Ladenburg is home to the Carl Benz Motor Museum and since you all know how much of a petrol head I am (not) that is obviously why the town was circled. Off we cycled, map in hand, and after making one or two false starts we arrived at the front door of a lovely building containing the museum. Slight problem, only open Saturday and Sunday 2pm until 6pm and here we are on Thursday.
Ladenburg is a fortified town, as are all towns in this area. Our guidebook even says that there are more castles here than along the Rhine valley. We enter the old town and have an explore.
And in the main square we obviously find a beer and kuchen shop, we need a planning meeting and this seems to be as good a place as any.
Weincremeschlieten, eine schreiben und zwei biers, bitte. Who says German is hard? The results of our planning meeting are:- Hang around for the motor museum to open and in the meantime catch a train into Heidelberg.
Ladenburg itself is a very pretty town full of old buildings.
And cobbled streets.
Back at the stellplatz the office is open and I go in to grab some leaflets. The advice is that just around the corner is a bus that takes us to a tram station from where we can catch a tram into the centre of Heidelberg,, a 24 hour ticket for two people is €9.20.
Next morning here is our tram waiting for us as we arrive at the station.
There is another long shopping road as there has been in previous German towns we have been to and they are all the same shops, in fact it isn’t too different to walking around Lakeside or Bluewater to be honest.
At least the Germans call their seat of local government something that reflects the elected members. This is Heidelberg Rathaus which also contains the tourist information centre, I had urgent need to find one of the three recommended bars (lunch time was beckoning).
First stop would be the castle looking over the city and we took the funicular railway up since it looked a bit too steep for Little Miss Shorty Legs.
In fact, we went right to the top. The old town of Heidelberg is squeezed between two mountains with the Necker river flowing along the valley bottom. Considering that this is a major German city it surprised me to see how close the forest was to the town centre.
Up the top you can see that the castle is semi ruined and undergoing lots of repair. It is still pretty photogenic and we saw three wedding parties having photos taken.
The Old Bridge, this one is just 250 years old, the previous nine having been destroyed by ice floes and floods. This end are two white towers which housed prison cells for the rich and famous naughty people while underneath are three dark dungeons for the likes of you and me.
Another view from the castle, the city has outgrown the confines of the valleys and stretching into the distance are houses, factories and offices.
Part of the castle is still intact and still in use. To the right is a Pharmacy Museum with exhibits from the beginning of time showing how medicine has evolved over the millennia. Most of the displays were in English as well so I didn’t have to translate it all for Lucy!
The castle also contains the worlds largest wine barrel. Some taxes were paid for in goods therefore the wine growers would pay their tax in wine. This is a big wine barrel, but it isn’t the biggest in the world.
This is the biggest wine barrel containing 220,000 litres. It took 30 oak trees to make, has a dance floor on the top of it and you can see axe marks where the French tried to break into it and have a snifter.
After the castle we found one of the recommended bars and decided to have typical German food for a change. This is mine, a typical Swabian dish (Swabia is a province of Germany) called maultaschen which is a large filled ravioli which has been sliced and fried, with salad and of course a seasonal beer brewed on the premises.
And this is Lucy’s traditional Swabian dish of weiner schnitzel with Spaetzle, a noodle like dumpling which takes the place of potatoes.
Travel home was just as easy, all the transport seems to mesh with each other, and we made good time getting back to Frankie.
There are 30 pitches on this stellplatz, it is full up and motor homes are still arriving at 8.30pm. Last night we had one turn up at 11.30pm only for him to leave before 8am so he didn’t have to pay.