Monday, December 30, 2013

Day Fourteen and Fifteen: Adventure Awaits You, Pt. 1

Where do I even begin to describe how amazing these past few days have been? I mean there's no way for me to possibly explain it in simple terms. But I can, however, share what I experienced and maybe you can feel the magic that I did too.

On day fourteen, 27 December, we did some essential things. The first is going off to Mannheim to a store called Poco in the industrial sector to look for curtains. Say what you will, the Germans know how to make beautiful curtains. My mom and Oma managed to find the most beautiful drapes; I hope one day when I have a home of my own I'll be able to come back to Germany if for no other reason than to get drapes for my home. After the curtain escapade, we went to Kirchheim to pay our respects to my great-grandfather, may he rest in peace.
We were originally going to go visit a family friend, but that didn't work out. Instead, we were dropped back off at our hotel and left to our own devices. We decided since the sun was shining and it wasn't bitterly cold it would be a good day to finally visit the Schloss Garten in Schwetzingen. 
It's an exceptionally large garden for the palace here, fashioned after Versailles. There are many, many, many statues (almost all of which are currently covered to protect them from the winter). There is everything from a mosque to a temple to Apollo in the gardens. 
There is also mine and my mom's favorite place, the End of the World. 
I maintain, it wasn't bitterly cold. Take note of the hoodie I'm wearing instead of my usual coat or lighter jacket. 
We wandered a bit more, but of course at 4:30 in the afternoon the gardens are closing and the sun is starting the set. Fun fact: the sun doesn't get up very high in the sky at all during the winter. I didn't realize we were so far north because of the severe lack of snow (and overwhelming abundance of rain). Little did I know, we are not at the highest elevation. We are surrounded by mountains, and the ones that enclose the little (okay not little but you get the point) valley we are in are blocking the snow at the present moment. Come January and February, this certainly won't be the case, but we won't be here then obviously. 

Anyway, the weather was getting colder and my mom and I were freezing. So,we went for hot chocolate and cake before going back to the hotel. 
The next day, we were finally ready for a real adventure. My uncle had arranged for my mom and me to go top Heidelberg, sans Oma, and go all over the place with our own chauffeur cousin. We started out bright and early (not really). Our first stop was the main street that contains many interesting little shops that sell everything from cuckoo clocks to steins to formal dresses. Of course, that's not what we were there for. We were there for a day of history, architecture, and marveling. 
We had lunch at an interesting little joint, finally having something besides pork and mushrooms in sauce; it's actually really good but it was time for a change. I suppose that because we were Americans, the waiter was of a nice enough mind and mood to put (three) ice cubes in my drink. It was fantastic finally having an ice cold Fanta, even though it was chilly outside. 
Afterwards, we went over to the old church, looked around, lit a candle for our flight home on Thursday (thoughts/prayers/etc. are much appreciated thank you), and went on down to the old bridge. We got to see the monkey statue, before going out over the river. At each of the little lookouts, couples have locked locks together, leaving them on the bridge and tossing the keys away. 
After this, we made our way back to the car (after buying a new suitcase, but that's another story for another day when I tell people I travel with that their bags are either too small or they have packed entirely too much to go away with) and went on our next adventure. 
This one was not for the faint of heart.
Nor was it for the shy. 
Or the cowardly. 
We were off to the Thingstatte. This was an amphitheatre, built by Hitler into the side of the mountain. It was on the same hill as an old monastery and a Roman temple to the god Mercury. Before we managed to happen upon the Thingstatte, we found the remains of the monastery. 
I climbed all the way to the top of that tower. One does not simply get all the way back down before getting dizzy and thinking the tight spiral staircase is never going to end. Then, we trekked up the rest of the way up the mountain to the Thingstatte. 
We went in the back way, the way the leaders would have entered way back when. Me being me of course wandered out onto the stage, then all the way up to where the people coming to listen to propaganda would have come. Needless to say, it was a long way up. 
It was raining steadily, and once I was all the way at the top the wind was ridiculously strong and I had to close the umbrella I had :( But, it was worth it. 

Our adventure continued as we drove back home in the dark and the rain (eesh) and finally got back to my Oma who had spent the day with her mom and brother. We went to the main building for dinner, and called it a night. 
Part two of our four days of adventure to come soon. 

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