At this point in my trip, I unfortunately caught the European crud:( Since traveling from Salzburg, everyone around me seemed to be hacking and coughing and sneezing and sniffling and well, it finally caught up with me. I wasn’t feeling well at all, but had to power through anyway. The afternoon I got into Heidelberg I first checked into my hostel (Steffi’s Hostel located just a few minutes walk from the train station) then immediately went back to the train station to check out a store I had spotted that seemed to be a mini-mart. I stocked up on throat lozenges, teas, vitamin C, apple cider vinegar and tissues to care finally get myself taken care of a bit. I had dinner at the Chinese restaurant located conveniently downstairs and had soup with tons of sriracha in it, just to help sweat out those germs;)
Heidelberg is a huge University town. Just about everyone I came across and chatted with was somehow involved in the University, whether studying or working. It’s a lovely little place with a great young energy and I’m just bummed that I felt like such crap the entire time I was there, but I’m thankful that I was able to get better while there. In my mind it will always be that quaint little town where I got to rest a bit:)
The next day I still felt like run-over dog but thought “I’m here, I better do something!!”. So I went for a walk to see the Heidelberg castle:) I even ended up taking a tour of the castle once there, but honestly don’t remember much of it since my brain was mush from not feeling well:(
One bit that I do recall from the tour however was of the story of Perkeo. Perkeo was a short, red-headed Italian who didn’t speak German, yet lived at the castle as the keeper of the wine! Seriously, this barrel of wine in the basement of the castle is absolutely HUGE!! According to Wikipedia it can hold over 57,000 gallons of wine!! Anyway, as the keeper of the wine (and being Italian of course) Perkeo was quite fond of wine and drank quite a bit of it. Because he didn’t speak German and the Germans didn’t speak any Italian, when he was offered wine he would simply say “Perche No?”, which means “why not?” In Italian. Perche no… perkeo… see the similarity?? He was the keeper for some time and as the humorous yet untrue story goes, one time someone went to play a trick on him. They offered him some wine (to which he said “perche no?”) but instead gave him a glass of water. Perkeo took a sip and fell dead in that moment;) Too funny!
Another cute story revolved around the King and his wife. King Frederick V was quite the romantic! In the archway that leads to the entrance of the castle there are lovely etchings of nature and animals sculpted into it. It is said that each animal is a symbol of love to his wife. Once it was constructed he simply told her to search the gardens of the arc to find little mementos of his love for her… Awww!!
After the castle tour I wandered the gardens, which after having been to Versailles definitely seemed to lack;) At this point my body and mind were getting severely tired from being ill and just couldn’t do much more. I headed back through town to the hostel and passed out.
The next day I was feeling quite a bit better and decided to head to the zoo! I took the bus there and arrived just as it was opening. I spent the day wandering back and forth from animal enclosure to animal enclosure just taking in all the critters. It isn’t a huge zoo by any means, but they do have a decent variety of animals and because it was so small, it made it easy to get around to each of the feeding shows . The sea lion feeding was like many of the sea lion feedings in other zoos where they tell you about the critters and have them do a variety of tricks for the fish. This one was a bit unique for me however as the feeding was all in German, so I hadn’t a clue about what was being said. It was still quite entertaining however:)
Some things I noticed about this zoo that was different from others I had been to was first the amount of babies they had. Baby sea lions, baby camels, baby porcupines, baby monkeys, babies everywhere! Second, even though they were a small zoo there were staff members everywhere all throughout the day working in one way or another; cleaning, preparing food, moving the babies from the nurseries to the adult pens for some acclimation time, etc. Generally I never notice zoo staff around, but at this one they were very present, which I found nice! Finally, of all the zoos I’ve been to, never before had I seen a feeding for the tigers and lions…
Oh my goodness… I can’t describe how amazing it was to see the tigers literally going from “look at that beautiful/cute tiger” to “never in a million years would I ever want to tangle with one of them!!!”. The wild and the instincts came out in a flash the second the food arrived. Claws scraped the enclosure bars trying to get a quicker grip on the meat about to be fed to them. It was just amazing to see such a wild nature so close!
The lions were much more relaxed about the feeding. It was a group of lionesses and it was easy to see which was the Alpha female. She got her meat first (quite patiently compared to the tigers) and headed to her eating spot as the others then practically lined up to get theirs. The order and calm in their enclosure versus the “fear for your life” energy from the tigers enclosure was incredible! I would go back just to view the feeding again.
After the zoo I headed to the hostel once again and spent the evening plotting how to get to and where to stay in Füssen, Germany. The “Fairy Tale” castle of “Mad” King Ludwig II, located in South Germany in a little town called Hohenschwangau was a must see on my list. Thankfully all my plots to get there worked out and after several relaxing days of actually taking care of myself in Heidelberg I was ready to set out once again.