What to do in Germany: A Weekend in Weinheim
A short break in my InterRail posts to update you on my life post Easter holidays. Two weeks ago now, I hopped on my favourite (and the best value) form of transport out here, MeinFernbus and made the four and a bit hour journey in a southerly direction to the idyllic city of Heidelberg. As always the trip went quickly, was hassle free and I was soon reunited with my lovely friend Laura (of Playing with Melancolia).
Our afternoon in Heidelberg involved a fair amount of catching up and a lunchtime trip to the Mensa (University Canteen) which apparently, has won awards for its food. I must say that I was rather impressed! Finally along with a friend of Laura’s we made our way to Cafe Rossi, an atmospheric cafe just off of Bismarkplatz for an afternoon refreshment break. The evening was rather quieter but included plenty of tea and yummy food so no complaints from me!
The following day we had an adventure planned. Setting off after breakfast we made our way into the town of Weinheim, known as the Zwei-Burgen-Stadt or two castle city. Any guesses as to why? Yes that’s right, overlooking the town are two castles, the Windeck and the Wachenburg.
Laura began the little tour of her home town by taking me into the Schlossgarten (Palace Garden) which is essentially the town’s main park. I was informed that this is the place where the town’s teenagers have ‘their first bad experience with alcohol’, but I thought it was lovely all the same – maybe I would think differently were it evening time filled with rowdy, alcohol fulled teenagers.. who knows?!
Anyone who knows me, will also know that I have a soft spot for creatures of the small, feathered kind – be that in real life, as a pattern on any piece of clothing, as a trinket, a figurine and as a photo .. OK, I think you get it!? Laura on the other hand is by no means a bird lover but, very sweetly, accompanied me to the newly built aviary in the park, where a handful of budgies and parakeets were waiting to say hello to us.
Once we were finished in the Schlossgarten, we strolled out past the Schloss itself and down the cobbled street into the heart of the Altstadt. Saturday’s market was in full swing and the area was buzzing with people buying bits and bobs, flowers and of course the (or their) beloved Spargel (asparagus), a delicacy at this time of year.
We continued on through Marktplatz, down a flight of steps into the Gerberbach Viertel, the haunt of the old town’s tanners or leather makers. Personally, the old tanning quarters are the most beautiful parts of some German towns and cities, with narrow streets lined with timbered framed buildings, fast flowing streams with small bridges leading up to front doors and adorned with colourful flowers and blooms.
Our last stop in Weinheim was Hermannshof, the town’s botanical garden which was in some ways comparable to a National Trust property, or two, back home. With borders bursting with wonderful flowers, from tulips to peonies, this beautiful park is completely free and open to the public – definitely worth a stroll around if you ever happen to find yourself in Weinheim.
The afternoon took us somewhere completely new to me. We travelled from Weinheim, via Mannheim to the little town of Schwetzingen, home to the magnificent Schloss Schwetzingen – summer residence of Electors Palatine Karl III Philip and Charles Theodore (and what fellows they were..?)
Back in February this year, touring good old Ba-Wü (Baden Württemberg) with my pal Rebecca (remember Karlsruhe, Tübingen & Stuttgart or A trip to Baden Baden: Germany’s ‘most famous’ Spa town ?), we had planned to stop by the Schloss but unfortunately with dodgy train connections, terrible weather and winter opening times we didn’t get the chance, so I was pleased when Laura suggested we go there for the afternoon. The weather wasn’t much better for us this time either, but at least the flowers were out and the sun shone through the clouds once or twice.
We paid our 2,50 euro entrance fee (what a steal!) and entered the Schlosspark, along with what seemed like a crowd of newly-weds, together with their photographers. First stop was a comfortable looking bench with a view across the park, where we could sit and finish our sandwiches. We then spent the afternoon exploring the vast gardens, including the colourful formal garden and the striking Schwetzingen Mosque, the latter being a popular place for wedding photographs!
Laura and I joined in with a few photos of our own..
A good three hours later we were beginning to flag and decided to head back ‘home’ where of course another delicious meal was waiting for us, cooked and served by Laura’s Dad. And I can tell you something, it was truly fab!