This morning, ms Grace is docked in Worms, Germany, located about 45 minutes driving time from Heidelberg. After breakfast, we ready ourselves for the 9am tour departure. It is a beautiful, sunny morning when we make the short walk to the motorcoaches.
ms Grace is docked in Worms for Heidelburg
The coaches dropped everyone off at the Tourist Information office, just down the street from the Karl Theodor Bridge, more commonly known as "Old Bridge". The bridge, which opened in 1788, spans the Neckar River and is a Heidelberg landmark.
The Old Bridge in Heidelberg
As soon as we get off the coach, we meet our local guide for the short walk into town. The Old Town area of Heidelberg is very easy to navigate and we are now beginning to feel as though we know the place pretty well. This is our third visit to Heidelberg in two years!
Local guide gathers guests for walking tour
We walk through a couple of small plazas until we arrive at the station where we will board the funicular that will take us up the hill to the castle. This is the first time we have ridden the funicular, and quite honestly, it was a bit chaotic. The local guide made the mistake of pointing out that there was a restroom in the lobby of the funicular station, a statement that was followed by a mad dash. Unfortunately, there were only two stalls in each restroom and the rest of the crowd had to wait quite a while for everyone to finish their potty break. The guide should have mentioned that there was a much larger restroom at the castle, a two-minute funicular ride away, and most would have waited. We ended up with more than 100 people trying to get through a ticket-entry turnstile and cramming into the funicular cars for the ride to the top. And of course, there were locals and other tour groups besides us.
Funicular in Heidelberg
Nevertheless, we all made it to the top and the ride only took a couple of minutes. It just seemed as though the local guides had never coordinated how to get four large groups through the funicular at the same time. When we arrived at the castle, we were greeted with bright sunshine and warm weather, the best weather we have seen so far on this trip. This made for some very good photos of the castle ruins.
Of course, no trip to the castle ruins would be complete without a visit to the world's largest wine barrel (built in 1751) which claims to hold an amazing 58,000 gallons! But, my favorite part of the castle visit is the large terrace from which you can see the entire city of Heidelberg and the Neckar River below. On a sunny day like today, it is a spectacular view.
View from the terrace at Heidelberg Castle
On this visit, our guide took us to a part of the castle we have never visited before: the fallen tower, which was blown up by the French in 1693.
After the tour of the castle, our guide leads us back the funicular station for the ride back down into town. Without the bathroom break, the ride down is much more organized. After arriving back in Old Town, our group gathers at the Hercules fountain near the Church of the Holy Spirit where we are asked to meet in 15 minutes. So, we did not have a lot of free time before lunch. Rickee and I used the time to go check out the brass monkey at the Old Bridge that we have heard about many times but never seen. There were so many people crowded in front of the monkey that it was impossible to get a photo without people's faces in the picture, so I took one from the side.
Monkey at the Old Bridge
The Brass Monkey is holding a mirror and is surrounded by mice. You should touch the mirror for wealth and the outstretched fingers to ensure you return to Heidelberg. Touch the mice to ensure you have many children. After checking out the monkey, it was time to meet the group for lunch. On our way back to the Hercules fountain, we passed the restaurant where we knew we would be dining for lunch. So, we just decided to wait for the group to join us!
Vetter restaurant in Heidelberg
The main dining room of the restaurant/brewery was completely reserved and set up for Tauck guests, except for one table for six. When we arrived, German pretzels, dark bread, and cream cheese were already on the tables. The pretzels were delicious. Once everyone was seated, drink orders were taken. Rickee and I tried one of the local light beers, which was also very good (notice her mug is much larger than mine!).
Rickee and I try a German beer
The meal was served family-style, with a large skillet of German sausages with sauerkraut placed on the table for everyone to share. Another smaller skillet of cheese spaetzle was also shared. The meal ended with apple strudel.
German sausages and sauerkraut
Everyone had a great time and, once again, Tauck pulled off a nice, and unexpected, event. After lunch, we all walked back to the motorcoach pick-up location for the drive to Mannheim, where ms Grace has repositioned. If you wanted to stay in town longer, you could take one of two shuttles back to the ship. There was also an option of taking a trip to Speyer to visit the famous Technik Museum. Tauck is well- known for giving its guests many enjoyable options, and today was a prime example of that.
Guests board ms Grace in Mannheim
It was another wonderful day aboard Tauck's ms Grace!