Eurotrip 2009 Part 5: Heidelberg

This is the fifth part of my Eurotrip 2009 Revisited series, a special edition of sorts in which I have divided the original post into smaller parts while incorporating minor copy edits and a few new (and reprocessed) images.

Flash Forward: Heidelberg, Germany

After our adventures in Lucerne we departed the next morning for the final leg of our trip. The hotel front desk was late with my wakeup call so I had to rush getting ready and packed to make sure I got downstairs for the bus on time, but I still had a few minutes to hit the restaurant and get some more of that awesome bacon.

Our first stop that morning was the Rhine Falls in Switzerland. While not on the level of Niagara, it is still quite spectacular and powerful.

The Rhine Falls
The tiny people visible at the top of the island on the left give you a sense of the size of the falls.

Me at the Falls

We didn’t have long to stay and I had already wasted some time sitting on a bench and staring at the falls, but I wanted to get a closer view, so I ran around the far side of the river where a path and steps led to the top of the falls, climbing as high as I could while taking photos.  However, time ran out before I was able to reach the top and I had to book it back to the bus.

Side View of the Falls

Our next stop was in the fabled Black Forest of Germany to see the world’s largest cuckoo clock in action. It was kind of kitschy (it’s no Glockenspiel). I would rather have spent more time at the Rhine Falls than rushing to make the 12 p.m. cuckoo performance.

World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock

After the cuckoo performance we went inside the building for a demonstration of how the Germans hand-make their famous cuckoo clocks. We then stood in line for 45 minutes to get some crappy cafeteria food for lunch because we thought it would be faster than going to the sit-down restaurant across the way. In all, this was my least favorite stop of the trip, but the rest of the trip was so wonderful that it’s hard to complain about one little bump in the road.

After lunch we departed for our final destination: Heidelberg, Germany. The bus took us straight to the castle ruin that overlooks the city (we would not check in to our hotel that night until after 8:30 p.m.). While not as magnificent as the intact fortress in Salzburg that I saw two years prior, the Heidelberg castle is still very impressive and provides a nice view of the valley below:

A view of Heidelberg from the castle. I would later take photos of the castle
from below while standing in the square visible in the lower left of the photo.

Another view of Heidelberg from the castle.

Here are a couple of photos of the ruins themselves.  The open window sections reminded me a bit of the Colosseum.

Heidelberg Ruins

Heidelberg Ruins

We stopped in the castle courtyard for a group photo, and then went inside to view the world’s largest wine barrel.

World’s Largest Wine Barrel

We then explored the grounds around the castle. Along the way, I snapped this photo of a nearby obelisk in my best attempt at a 2001-ish monolith shot:

My Monolith (no apes huddled around this one)

After our tour of the castle we headed back to the bus, which dropped us off in the middle of town for an hour of free time before dinner. I took a few photos of the castle from down below.

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle overlooking a square.

I liked these trees.

I then did some shopping and bought a chocolate gelato. One of the stores had tons of absinthe of every kind imaginable. I had never seen so much in one place. I thought about getting a big bottle to bring home, but decided against it.

We ate dinner at a charming place called Zum Sepp’l, which has apparently been a hangout for university students since the 1600’s, complete with thick wood tables entirely covered in carved names.

Carved table at the Zum Sepp’l

This was the best dinner of the trip, and a nice way to spend our last night in Europe. The tomato soup appetizer was fantastic (and I’m not usually a fan of it), but this tasted almost like spaghetti sauce. The bread was great. For the main course we had these awesome large pierogi topped with ham and onion. They were so good that I didn’t hesitate for seconds when they offered them. Here’s a picture of our mini group at the dinner table:

The people I spent the most time with during the trip.
From Left: Uncle Kipp, Amber, Sam, Me, Sam’s Grandmother.

After dinner, a group of guys from the New York group bought a giant three-liter beer boot, which they passed around and chugged down in rapid fashion.

Giant Beer Boot

I was finally able to settle into my hotel room a little after 8:30 p.m., but we were right back outside at 9:30 for an extended walking tour of Heidelberg. The castle looks beautiful lit up at night, though the night photos taken with my pocket camera didn’t come out too great.

Heidelberg Castle at Night

After the tour, our Gateway group stopped at a pub for a final round of drinks. On the way home we stopped for our last European gelatos. That night at 12:30 I helped Uncle Kipp do a final room check.

The following morning we hopped on the bus with the Virginia group for a long drive to Frankfurt airport (the NY group had already left very early that morning because they had a different flight). At the airport we said our goodbyes to our driver, guide, and the people from the Virginia group.

Here’s a photo of our entire group (New York, Virginia, and New Jersey):

Our Group

After a fairly short wait (especially compared to the 2007 trip), we boarded our plane. I had my seat switched from a window to an aisle, thinking that I would have a nice relaxing flight home. Little did I know that the girl sitting behind me would think that the touchscreen on the back of my seat was a punch screen, so you can imagine how fun that was for eight hours (I did finally get up with about 90 minutes left in the flight to show her how to use the screen without punching it). The movies really helped pass the time, even if most of them were mediocre, though I actually liked Marley & Me, a real tear jerker if you’re a dog lover.

We had a pretty rough landing in Philly, just as we had two years ago. Is there something about landing in Philly? We got the shuttle back to Gateway high school in South Jersey, where Jen picked me up. After saying our goodbyes we began the long drive back to central Jersey. I couldn’t wait to get home and get some rest, especially since I was beginning a new job in a couple of days.

Overall, I had a great time on the trip, though I would rank it slightly behind the one from 2007, primarily because on that trip we visited Salzburg (my favorite European city to that point), we did not have to share our bus with any other groups (which gave us plenty of room to stretch out on long bus rides and we didn’t have to worry about losing our seats every day), and we stayed two nights in every location, which made for a more easy-going trip.

On the other hand, we visited more cities on this trip and met some nice people from the other groups. It was also a blast hanging out with Amber, and some other aspects of the trip and flight were easier this time around since I had already gone through it once before. In the end, both trips were fantastic and left me with a lifetime’s worth of memories. One day I’ll write up my journal of the 2007 trip and the comparisons can begin. 🙂

Related Links:

Writer, traveler, photographer, hiker, film/TV addict, amateur chef, casual gamer, and occasional tennis & saxophone player . . . in real life I do web design.

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Europe, Germany, Switzerland, Travel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow Michael Rappa on

Join 295 other followers

Instagram Feed
Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017

Another prairie dog shot, this one in the iconic standing pose. Not as sharp as I would have liked, but not too bad for handheld at a 250 mm focal length.

#animals #devilstower #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica #Photography #prairiedogs #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #wildlife #Wyoming Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017

There is a giant field beneath Devils Tower that is entirely covered with prairie dogs. I was so mesmerized by the little critters with their cute screeching noises that I almost forgot I was there to visit the tower.

#animals #devilstower #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica #Photography #prairiedogs #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #wildlife #Wyoming Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017

This shot only features the top of Devils Tower, but I liked the variety of colors in the landscape.

#DevilsTower #Wyoming #NationalMonuments #travel #buttes #landscapes #photography #UnitedStates #NorthAmerica #RoadTrips #hiking #colors Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017

A closeup shot of climbers scaling Devils Tower.

Pretty soon, climbing will no longer be necessary because, according to a sign I saw at the site, they are apparently installing an elevator to the top. Although it would be neat to see the top of the tower, I think it’s unfortunate that they are going to ruin its appearance with an elevator apparatus. I’m glad that I was able to see Devils Tower in all its natural glory before this happens.

#buttes #devilstower #hiking #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica
#Photography  #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming #climbing Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017

A view of Devils Tower from my hike around the base. This is the opposite side of the tower from the shot I posted yesterday. The black dots in the sky are birds.

#DevilsTower #Wyoming #NationalMonuments #travel #buttes #landscapes #photography #UnitedStates #NorthAmerica #RoadTrips #hiking Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017

A lifelong dream sparked by 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' was finally realized when I visited Devils Tower last August--40 years (and many plates of sculpted mashed potatoes) after I first saw the tower on film. I had no idea as I hiked around Devils Tower that just two days later there would be a 40th anniversary screening of the film at the tower itself. Just missed it!

#DevilsTower #Wyoming #NationalMonuments #CloseEncounters #travel
#buttes #landscapes #photography #UnitedStates #NorthAmerica
#RoadTrips Deadwood, South Dakota - August, 2017

I chose to stay in Deadwood during my three nights in South Dakota because I was a huge fan of the HBO show and have always been fascinated with the Wild West. I thought it would be cool to walk in the footsteps of Deadwood’s famous residents.

The drive in to town was interesting, as I steadily climbed the Black Hills while passing “Bighorn Sheep Crossing” signs. I only had time to explore the main strip because I spent most of my visit taking day trips out of town, so it’s not really fair to render a judgment without having taken the time to fully check out everything Deadwood had to offer. Still, I found it to be kind of a disappointment, mostly just your average casino town, which isn’t really my cup of tea.

Nevertheless, I saw several points of interest during my walks around town, such as the spots where Wild Bill was shot and where his assassin was caught, the Bullock Hotel that was built by Seth Bullock after the events of the show, and a few establishments named after notable people and places such as Charlie Utter and the Gem Theater. The recreated “gunfights” in the middle of town were also neat.

#deadwood #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #SouthDakota #Travel #UnitedStates #wildwest #historictowns #blackhills #oldwest Mount Rushmore, South Dakota - September, 2017

This is a zoomed-in view of Mount Rushmore from a lookout point a couple of miles away on Iron Mountain Road, a scenic mountain drive that I highly recommend taking before heading to the monument. If you go south to north, you will drive through a tunnel that perfectly frames Mount Rushmore; makes for a memorable photo. This shot may not look like a panorama due to its more squarish shape, but it was stitched together from two different photos.

#IronMountainRoad #MountRushmore #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica
#panoramas #Photography #roadtrips #Scenic #SouthDakota #Travel
#UnitedStates #mountains Portland, Oregon - August, 2017

The view from my apartment during my stay in Portland last summer.

#NorthAmerica #Oregon #panoramas #Photography #Portland #Travel #UnitedStates Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017

Yellowstone Lake, the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in North America.

#yellowstonelake #nationalparks #NorthAmerica #panoramas #Photography #roadtrips #Scenic #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming
#YellowstoneNationalPark #yellowstone #lakes #water Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017

The Grand Prismatic Spring, one of Yellowstone's most stunning features, is the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world. It's difficult for a ground-level photo to do it justice, but if you climb the hill visible in the background of this shot, you can get a nice bird's-eye view of its beauty.

#GrandPrismaticSpring #nationalparks #NorthAmerica #panoramas #Photography #roadtrips #Scenic #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming
#YellowstoneNationalPark #yellowstone #hotsprings #MidwayGeyserBasin Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017

Vertical panorama of the Dragon's Mouth Spring in the Mud Volcano area of Yellowstone. Pictures don't do justice to this remarkable thermal feature, but you can see how it got its name as smoke appears to shoot out of a gaping mouth.

#dragonsmouthspring #nationalparks #NorthAmerica #panoramas
#Photography #roadtrips #Scenic #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming
#YellowstoneNationalPark #yellowstone #hotsprings Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017

This is a portion of Hayden Valley featuring rolling hills. Hayden Valley is one of the two prime locations for spotting wildlife in the park (the other being Lamar Valley), and one of the most popular destinations in the entire park.

#nationalparks #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Scenic #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming #YellowstoneNationalPark #haydenvalley #panoramas #hills Yellowstone National Park - August, 2017

This is Lamar Valley, one of the two prime locations for spotting wildlife in the park. The other is Hayden Valley. I saw wildlife in both locations, though Hayden Valley had much more.

#nationalparks #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #Scenic #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming #YellowstoneNationalPark #lamarvalley #panoramas
Michael is reading…
Wanderlust Travel & Photos Blog

Experiencing the World One Trip at a Time


by Evelina Di Lauro

Natalie Breuer

Natalie. Writer. Photographer. Etc.

aviation, sport & street foo-shmoo... whatever...

an engineer's photographic dilemmas

french ideas

Fine places in France and around the world.

Book 'Em, Jan O

Ghosts, Tall Tales & Witty Haiku!


If travel is an addiction, I'm afflicted.


Rick Mallery

Poems & People

what if poems could be symphonies, and people their orchestra?

%d bloggers like this: