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Geoff and Suzanne Visit Our Castles

First Stop: Heidelberg

April 11 and 12 , 2005

(finished May 26)


Dear Families and Friends,


Last Christmas, we hosted our kids in Germany, most of them anyway. At the time, Geoff and Suzanne could not make it so we gave them a rain check for a Spring Break visit. We selected a drive along "The Castle Route" because there were places Marianne and I had not yet seen and we thought German castle visits would be a welcome break for our almost-newlyweds.

The Castle Route runs from the Rhine River in Manheim, across Germany to Prague in the Czech Republic, but our five or six days was only time for a fraction of that. As usual, we'll let our pictures tell the story.

We've broken the trip into four pieces, so see them all and tell us your favorite castle.



John and Marianne


Geoff and Suzanne arrived from Washington on the morning flight (No, not THIS plane.). Because we had only a limited time to tour, we gave them no rest and immediately hit the road.

Our first stop was just on the other side of Frankfurt International Airport, to the Berlin Airlift Memorial, just off the Rhine-Mein Airbase. Behind Geoff and Suzanne is the "Raisin Bomber", made famous by Gail Halvorsen, the namesake of Marianne's school. Halvorsen, a young pilot in the Airlift, met some children at the Berlin end of his route and promised them that he'd drop some goodies on his next flight. He made good on his promise and pretty soon he was part of a huge network of American volunteers who donated candy, and raisins apparently, and dropped them inside the blockaded city, giving children hope and changing, in part, the vision of American bombers in Germany.

This Fall, the American base at Rhine-Main will close, but the memorial will stay. Hopefully the good memories will also linger.


Less than an hour down Autobahn 5, we stopped at our first castle. We had the entire place to ourselves, probably because it was darn cold.

This was a good castle, even if not famous*. It had the required gate, tower , and view. By the end of the trip, we may have tired of the gate-tower-view scenes, but, this one broke us in.

*What was the name of this castle? I have to admit, I have no idea. At the time, I thought: I have to write something down. But, how can you forget a castle?

One of the most famous stops on the Castle Route is Heidelberg. It's a small city, with a bustling "old town" running along the south bank of the Nekar River. Overlooking the center is the Heidelberg Castle, our next stop.

Town PR: http://www.cvb-heidelberg.de/index_eng.html

Heidelberg Castle, perched on a steep hill above the city, was built by (Mad) Prince Ludwig, who spent much of his life constructing ornate palaces. His most photographed is at Neuschwanstein in southern Bavaria and is famous as the model for Sleeping Beauty's Disneyland castle. We entered from the uphill side where the Mad Prince reportedly kept his private menagerie.

Heidelberg, like Neuschwanstein, was not finished before Ludwig's untimely death at age 40 but, even as a partial ruin, has remained famous in German tour guides. Even Mark Twain wrote about his stay here!

Quirky history site:http://www.mediaspec.com/castles/hberg/
Or, this one:http://www.visit-heidelberg.com/tours/castle.htm

Inside, there are no towers but rather, old ornate buildings, some finished and some not. Of course, the view from the back side was spectacular. Across the river, we could see the road we would be heading down to get to our next castle.
Before we left Heidelberg Castle, we stopped at a huge wine cask. The Heidelberg area has been famous for wine for centuries, and in former times, local farmers paid their rents with part of their wine crop. The prince would collect the rent in this massive barrel, so big that there is a dance floor on the top!
Back in town, Geoff and I found another tower to climb, a church tower this time. It was a good bit of exercise, and then it was time to get back to the hotel and rest our jet-lagged guests -- and us.

Next Castle Stop

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