Travel Review: Heidelberg, Germany

1 Oct

446After the Rhine, the next stop on our German adventure was Heidelberg. I actually hadn’t heard of Heidelberg before I started researching places to visit and castles to see, so I was wholly unprepared for what a popular tourist destination it was.  We spent just one day and one night in Heidelberg with the intent of visiting the castle and doing whatever else we could afterwards. However, we found that Heidelberg was chock full of stuff to do and we could have spent several days there easily without getting bored. This is one of the only German towns we visited that likely had a lot of night life, if that’s the sort of thing that interests you!

Accommodation Review: Lotte Backpackers

We arrived by train around 11 a.m. and made the poor decision to try to walk to our hostel. It was mostly flat the entire way, which was great, but it was a long trek in the heat with our big backpacks on! If you’re staying at Lotte Backpackers, I recommend trying to navigate public transport There’s actually a bus stop a few meters away, and the bus is only about 2 Euro each.

That said, Lotte is actually very centrally located to all of the main attractions in Altstadt, or the Old Town (it’s the train station that’s a bit out of the way!). The path to the castle is literally just out the front door. Tons of restaurants, historical churches and buildings, and shops are just a short walk away.

Lotte itself was delightfully unexpected. After staying in hotels the previous few days, we hadn’t been looking forward to staying in a hostel again. Let’s face it, a lot of hostels just aren’t up to hotel standard. But Lotte was! When we arrived, we were shown to the luggage room where we put our bags. When we came back for check-in time, we were greeted by a very friendly woman who showed us to our private room on the upper floor.

From what I understood (and from what I saw!) I believe the upper floor is all private rooms, which meant we were sharing two bathrooms and a kitchen area with only a few people. It looked busier on the floor below (though there were also more facilities there!). The room itself was clean, quirky, and had a fan, which was amazing as it was quite warm during our stay. There were two bathrooms, both of which were equipped with a toilet, sink, and shower (that is to say, these weren’t stall bathrooms, though we did see those on the lower floor). Again, everything in the bathrooms was sparkling clean. Water pressure and heat was very good.

The kitchens were also clean and tidy and came equipped with bowls, plates, pans, cutlery, and some spices you could use. There was also a variety of cereal to choose from, which you could have at any time (we ate it for breakfast–yum!).

We ended up loving Lotte, and we wished we had stayed there longer! Friendly staff, funky decorating, new feel, clean, centrally located–what more could you ask for? If you’re thinking about staying in Heidelberg and are looking for cheap accommodation, this is definitely the place to be.

Attraction Review: Heidelberg Castle

419As impressive as Lotte was, our main reason for going to Heidelberg–the castle–was a little disappointing.

The thing to keep in mind with Heidelberg Castle is that you pay one price to get into the courtyard of the castle, and it costs extra to get a tour of the interior rooms. I know I read this somewhere before our trip, but was hard to keep track of which castle had what, so when it came time to ask for tickets I didn’t remember. There also wasn’t much in the way of signage to tell you this, and when you ask at the ticket counter for “two adult tickets,” no one says, “Will that be for the courtyard or the tour?”

Suffice it to say, we were just given the courtyard tickets and we weren’t hugely impressed. I mean, the castle’s pretty and everything, but we’d already seen prettier. There was no information about the castle in the courtyard that we could see, and it was hugely crowded! There was a little museum about apothecaries that was included in the price, but there were too many people there to really take the time to enjoy it (and a lot of it didn’t have English translations anyway).

By the time we realized we needed a different ticket to get inside the castle, the ticket office had become ridiculously busy and we decided it just 428wasn’t worth the wait in line to get in for a tour. Learn from our mistake and ask for the tour tickets right off if that’s something you want to see! I honestly don’t think just the courtyard is worth the money.

Altstadt

After the castle, the rest of our time in Heidelberg was spent wandering around Altstadt. We found the absolutely best gummy bears EVER at the “Baren” shop–sour apple. So delicious. We bought a big bag for something like 2 Euro and nearly finished it that day. Hugely flavourful and pretty good prices.

We had trouble finding a place to eat dinner only because everywhere was jam packed. It certainly wasn’t from lack of options, as it seemed like every other storefront was a restaurant. I wasn’t kidding when I said Heidelberg was hugely busy–or maybe that was just my impression after several days on the nearly-434empty Rhine? Everywhere seemed to be very tourist-friendly with English menus, though, so we just settled on a place and ducked in.

That place ended up being Weisser Schwanen, which had outdoor seating but was also very neat inside! I’d describe it as “pub-like.” We took a booth and had prompt service despite it being so busy. Both my husband and I got schnitzels and fries, which were very good, nice portions, and reasonably priced.

All in all, we enjoyed our short stay in Heidelberg even if the original reason we went there was a bit disappointing! I would definitely go again if given the opportunity.

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