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December 3, 2001

Dear Friends and Family,

Down to our driving bulk without our extra bag we drove along the back roads until we approached Heidelberg. We came in from the East, along the Neckar River and were drawn to the historic center of town. We even found a parking lot immediately, an event that always gives a positive color to a new destination.

Speaking of color, although it was still (late) lunchtime, it was overcast and dark. Not good for photos. We didn't even get a shot of Mad Ludwig's old castle just above town. I don't know what's happened to our "picture everything" approach. Just need practice I guess. Sorry.

But take our word for it, Heidelburg is a perfect old college town. Lots of old buildings and young kids. Good combination of stately and lively.

We started our stay with a good German lunch. Frankly, we were approaching the end of our interest in German food, but this was a good enough finale. Peasant food, but good peasants, and in a restaurant that had both age (building) and youth (clients -- author excepted).

Even though we had driving time left in the day, we decided to stay. That seemed a good idea at first, but after the first three or four places were full, or too expensive, we had our doubts. On our last try, we found one place with space. Marianne "negotiated" the price to our budget and, since we were getting the special, Ray the clerk offered us any room in the house. We took the big room with a real bath. Wonderful luxury!

It was still dark, a little rainy and cold, but we went for a walk anyway. Ray had recommended a great travel book store for us to get something on France. On the way, we HAD to stop at one or two more Christmas Fairs and try some Christmas cookies and sweets, and just a bit of gluhwein. We did, however, discover that some spiced wine is quite delicious while other recipes taste like old laundry. We referred to this as the sweatsock vintage.

The next morning we decided to just get on the road and into France, without a tour of Mad Max's castle. "Next time" we said. But I think Max cursed us. Marianne was driving and I was navigating. Normally a fine team, but a half hour out of Heidelburg, I discovered we were heading north, not south. One of the drawbacks of dull German winter weather is that there is little sunlight to give the basic navigation clues. OK, we'll just turn around, catch the south-bound autobahn, and be back on schedule in no time.

Wrong again. We found the autobahn, but it looked like an infinite parking lot, so we rerouted and returned via the normal streets. Now, we were in the rush hour direction, so we just crawled along. Ninety minutes after leaving, we were back where we started, but correctly heading south. Max had one last trick. The south-bound highway was quite difficult to find even though it was obvious on our map. Who are these people who draw maps without looking at the roads? I swear it wasn't a navigation error.

Two hours later, we were on the road to France. And our next little story.

Take care. Take the right direction.

John and Marianne.


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Created December 18, 2001

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