Being as we are in Europe for sometime both Mariko and I wanted to make sure that we are able to visit and experience as much as possible. A group of Fulbrighters had planned to go to Heidelberg for one of the days (Friday) in our long weekend, so naturally we jumped at the chance to join them. I have been to Heidelberg before, during one of my prior trips to Germany.... many, many years ago.
There was 10 of us in the group, which meant that we could get two Schöneswochende tickets and split them for cheapest price!! We left Marburg around 9:30 and had a layover in Frankfurt (all roads lead to Frankfurt!). The nice thing about changing trains, is that you get to stretch your legs and get some food instead of having to be on the train for the entire time. We arrived in Heidelberg around noon-ish and visited the tourist info booth to get all the info we might need.
We wandered our way through the old town of Heidelberg, grabbing some food as we went. Mariko and I attempted to try some "Mexican" food once more... we ordered a burrito and it was in a fried flour tortilla shell like a taco (bizarre). It tasted good, though was not Mexican food as we would think of it. The rest of our time walking to the castle was spent taking photos of fountains, statues and food... and making sure we didn't lose any of the other Fulbrighters along the way.
We finally reached the bottom of the castle, and saw a sign that gave us two options to get to the top. The first was a steep ramp upwards that was timed for about 10 mins, while the other was 314 (The sign was lying) steps......of course we took the stairs options, because we are crazy people! The way up was both beautiful and grueling at the same time. By the time we reached the top just about everyone was tired and hot! Of course our little leader Julian wasn't breathing heavy at all and doing just fine. But once we got a look at the view it was all worth it! Of course with that amazing view it was picture time!
Once the plethora of pictures had been taken, we moved on towards the castle entrance. At this point we split up, 5 of us took the castle tour (in English) while the other 5 went to walk around (and sleep) in the castle gardens. The tour was amazing, and I remember walking through the castle as a much younger person. Sadly much of the castle had been destroyed over the years, and thus we could not tour a large portion of it. One thing that I was really excited about was the wine barrel! Heidelberg is home to the worlds largest wine barrel, over 200,000 liters can fit inside of it!
The rest of the day went by relatively quickly... Mariko and I had a small dinner together while everyone found something for themselves. Two train rides later and we were back in Marburg, though rather late at night. We also were able to have a nice chat with a Portuguese woman living (and going to school) in Germany. She spoke 7 languages, and was a studying linguistics!
We were able to wakeup late on Saturday and relax from our busy day in Heidelberg. We had some plans later that night, but for most of the day we just lounged around our room.... Mariko even took a nap half-way through. We met up with one other Fulbrighter for dinner around 5 and then headed up to the Schloss. We were very excited for our evenings entertainment. Mariko and I joined 3 other Fulbrighters to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow: Part 1 and 2.... Auf Deutsch of course!! It was an open air theater and was very pleasant all the way through both movies!!
Sunday came a little too soon for my taste, we hadn't gotten to bed until nearly 2am after the movie. We were up and at 'em at the proper time though, and on our way to Mainz! It was a smaller group than the last excursion, but we had a non-Fulbrighter with us this time. We took an Australian girl from the same building as a few other Fulbrighters, she was fun to have around and quite humorous. Mainz was definitely more of a modern town than Heidelberg, though it still had its own old town.
Mainz had a few different type of festival going on at the time, so we walked around some and got a little bit to eat. We definitely made time to go inside the cathedral that was there.... and it was huge! I'm sure that there was quite a few people inside, but it felt empty with how big the cathedral was.
Our next stop was one of the major reasons we went to Mainz.... the Wine Festival. It was at the city park, and was beautiful! There was food and wine everywhere, and one of the few times I have seen barely any (if not none at all) beer. We found ourselves a nice little section of benches and started ordering some wine. Mariko and I each only had one glass a piece, but they both tasted very nice! We aren't much of wine people, but I would have drank both of them again.
Sadly our time with the food and wine was coming to a close.... and of course that is when the weather decided it was time to rain! We waited out most of it beneath a tent.... well most of the group did, I had fun in the rain like always! But after the rain let up we made it to the train station and headed home fairly easily. Luckily we didn't get home too late, which let us catch the last bus back to the dorms!!
Our long was very nice, and much needed, though I doubt that we will be able to do any more traveling with other Fulbrighters before the language course ends. We will just have to keep talking with them and meet up in our respective cities... or perhaps further abroad if time (and money) permits.