Monday, September 11, 2006. Heidelberg.
When I got up at 7:30 AM, Kim, Christine, and Aaron had already departed for work and school. Jeff, George, and I ate some breakfast, then I journaled, answered e-mails, and posted on lj. Around 11:30 we drove to Cabana, a seafood buffet in Heidelberg. For 6,90 Euro you get all you can eat: loaves of fresh, crusty bread; a fruit bar with creamy yogurts and mango mousse; Victorian sea bass in cream sauce; sausage-stuffed red bell peppers. A display of yummy salads included orange lentil, olives & feta cheese, cucumber, etc. Everything was delicious, PLUS it come with complimentary water.
Something about the water. We’ve noticed in Italy, Poland, and Germany (so it may be true everywhere in Europe) unless you specify “no gas” you get carbonated water. Some places don’t even offer “still” or “silent” water. Also, you pay dearly for said water–even more than wine or beer as I said before. So, the fact this place offered unlimited quantities of free water made it an anomaly.
After lunch we headed to central Heidelberg, an enchanting city with cobbled streets, a castle, cathedral, and many churches. A river runs through town to let the quaint buildings admire their reflection. We climbed 200 steps to the top of the cathedral tower for spectacular views.
German cities are tidy. In fact, all of Germany is tidy. Almost no litter in the towns or on roadways. Everything is organized for efficiency. For example, at the local grocery store you pay 1 Euro to extract a cart from a rack. When you return the cart, you get your Euro back. So, everyone returns his cart. A similar system encourages recycling of water bottles (because everyone drinks bottled water–whether with or without gas).
We wandered around Heidelberg talking pictures of an unending supply of visual perfection at every turn. We trudged up the steep cobbled street to the castle, which George and I toured while Jeff hung out in the castle gardens. On our way back to St. Leon we stopped for a few groceries and some fresh bread. Kim and the kids were home when we arrived, so Jeff grilled hamburgers. While he manned the grill I took my camera out back to photograph his neighbors’ ancient barn and colorful produce. Plump, ripe blackberries, dwarf apple trees, bright red-orange tomatoes–made all the more delightful against the backdrop of the several-hundred-year-old barn. The neighbors, Herr and Frau Lindauer, came up to the fence to visit. They’re both almost 80 and speak no English. I was amused that they seemed to think if they spoke German very slowly, I would understand. 🙂 Herr Lindauer lost his leg in the war and now has a wooden one. They were sweet and eager to chat, but the language barrier kept us from making much progress. During the course of our brief encounter they kept picking handfuls of produce and handing them over the fence. Jeff said whenever the Lindauers want to give them garden goods, they stand at the fence and wait to be noticed. Too adorable.
We ate our hamburgers on fresh bread with Lindauer tomatoes. Beats Burger King any day! Then we sat around the living room enjoying pleasant conversation while Kim knitted in the warm lamplight.
Good food. Good friends. All very very good.