After more buttered breakfast rolls with cheese, we were given a tour of the Schloß (or castle) of Heidelberg. This place was enormous! Serving both as a palace and a fortress, it contained both extremely thick walls and more delicate and ornate decorations. Inside, it also contains the largest wine barrel known to makind (or at least, it should be). I believe that it holds over 44,000 gallons, or some ludicrous number like that. You've got to love Germany. Then we continued through the Old City, and had about two hours to spare before we had to leave. Across from the Old City and over the Old Bridge (quite clever names, really) is the Philosopher's path. It is a walk the has been taken by Mark Twain, university professors and other intellectuals, so I went up part of that. It wended it's way through a very pretty orchard and by a tree house, but I needed to grab lunch before we left, so I didn't make it to the top of the hill (I'm sure the entire walk is quite beautiful!) But, I had a very nice mango-apple-banana smoothie with a salad from on organic cafe!
In the afternoon, we were supposed to explore Rothenburg, a very well preserved medieval town, which indeed would have been fun, but for the fact that it had begun to pour on the way there! Thus we made an abbreviated stop; just enough time to go outside and get soaked, which was a shame. It was a really cute little town with lots of teddy bear shops. But the weather was miserable, so we continued to Nuremberg, where we spent the night in a youth hostel built inside the palace's stables. Owing to it being such an old place, it was a rather peculiar hostel with many strange features, such as the enigmatic showers which no one really felt like bothering with. The top floors were used as a granary though, so the seventh floor offered spectacular views of the city!
We began a tour of the old city starting right from the hostel this morning, and learned about the castle's history, feudalism, and how Nuremberg does not really wish to be a Franconian city. From there we continued down the hill, past famous German painter Albrecht Dürer's house, and into the city square and by it's beautiful fountain. Out of all the places we have visited, for some reason I liked Nuremberg the best. For lunch I found myself a great little vegetarian kitchen/health market, and had lecker (delicious) slice of quiche and a yummy bowl of soup-just the trick to warm me up after being out in the chilly wind! I will have to go back there, since there are apparently two more vegetarian restaurants that sound really good...
The afternoon was then spent at the Nuremberg Documentation Center, walking through an exhibit on the Holocaust. It was an excellent exhibit, that really conveyed what WWII and it's roots were like in Germany and to the Germans. They had several witness accounts from that time recorded as part of the exhibit, and those were very interesting. Hitler really did dupe about 95% of the country, not to mention the entire world.
This was also the same location as the Nazi rally grounds, where we stopped before leaving town. That was truly a bizarre and eerie location. Although it is really a huge expanse, 2/3 of it has been covered by a sports field. Still, it was quite a sight.
Finally, at the end of a long bus ride, we arrived in Austria, where we met our delightful host families. Now, I am going to retire into a glorious looking bed in a room by myself for a very good night's sleep.