If you have any choice, don't visit the castle in high season. Have a look at the picture, it's hard to see anything of the castle because of the many tour groups. The price for the guided tour is the same, no matter if you visit in hot July or in rainy November, but in November the tour can be 90 minutes, while in July and August you most probably get a hurried tour of just 45 minutes.
I wasn't sure if I should add this tip, as there are also very nice employees at the castle. But it happens so often, that it warrants a warning. I take American tourists to the castle quite often.
Just a few quotes of what some of the employees there said:
"Count yourself lucky that I let you go on the tour. You should have booked two weeks ago"
There were ten in our group and the website says no booking necessary if less than twenty.
"I don't care what it says on the website!"
"You are not allowed to translate!"
I had bought tickets for the English tour for Americans, why should I translate??
"I don't care , I just want to tell you, you are not allowed to translate!"
This is my favourite:
"I'm employed and paid by the castle to answer questions about the castle, not about the city of Heidelberg", when someone asked a question about the city.
The sad fact is, that there are so many tourists coming to the castle, that the employees can afford to be arrogant.
DON'T take it personal!!
And, most of them are nice, just be prepared.
Indeed, the English language is a strange one: a cobbler (shoe maker) and cobbles (stoney path) are so similar, yet most shoes really don't go well with cobbles.
As with most old European cities, Heidelberg is no exception to the wonderous and picturesque cobbled streets.
We have a saying in German: "Wer schoen sein will muss leiden" = "if you want to be pretty you must suffer".
And you feet will truly suffer for that certain sin called "vanity" if you don't wear the appropriate old-town footwear.
So leave your stiletto heels at home, because they may look fantastic, but you're probably also likely to break your ankles on your shopping trip!
Wear trainers or flat sandals. Don't worry if the shoes don't go with your new skirt, or look stupid with your stylish trousers: *Just-say-no* to your fancy heels and wear something that will let you walk that extra mile! "I still have my feet on the ground, I just wear better shoes" - Oprah Winfrey.
Salome was the daughter of Herodias and the stepdaughter of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea.
Her story is told twice in the Bible. Here is St. Mark's account of it (Mark 6:21-28):
And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.
When Oscar Wilde wrote his play Salome in 1890 he made one essential change to the story. In his version it is not the mother who gets the idea of demanding the head of John the Baptist, it is Salome herself, because she wanted to kiss him and he refused. This is also the version that Richard Strauss used for his opera in 1905.
The sculpture in the photo is not meant to be Salome. It was intended to symbolize one of the rivers of the lands governed by the Prince Elector Carl Theodor, either the Rhine, the Mosel, the Danube or the Isar. But while I was walking around Heidelberg it was the only thing I saw that I thought might be halfway appropriate for this story.
Second photo: A painting of Salome from the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona.
For more on the opera Salome, please see my travelogue on this page.
For some reason, which I haven't the faintest idea of, the administration of Heidelberg castle decided to open only one toilet facilities at one time.There are two different sets of facilities, but when the one in the cellar near the big barrel is open, the one near the main entrance is closed and vice versa. With the many, many tourists coming to see the castle each day, this mean long! lines. So you need to plan accordingly.
If you take children up to the cloister Stift Neuburg and visit the store, be prepared for some discussions about a new pet for the family: they sell rabbits there. When we were there there were baby rabbits for sale, so cute!
On a more serious note: There is an electric fan outside which is covered by a grid. The grid is large enough for small children to put their fingers through. We overheard some people talk about an accident some days before, when a small child had to be taken to hospital because part of his finger had been cut off by the blades of the fan.
One would think that if you paved a path you would also remove the root. Instead the root is merely painted orange. Like you are going to notice what color the root is while deep in thought on the Philosophers Walk.
You will not be the only visitor to Heidelberg.
It is a popular international attraction, so expect people from all over the globe.
Furthermore it's also a popular attraction for German school classes.
GIs are the most retarded of HD's threats, watch out for them on Friday and Saturday nights, cruising the Hauptstrasse in packs, moving from club to bar to club. Most are benign, but when intoxicated many become violent. Same goes for Turks, and clashes between the two are not uncommon.
Heidelberg probably looks very beautiful in the daylight. I wouldn't really know. Instead, I picture it as pitch black with bright lights of revelry pouring forth from various inns and taverns. Just remember those three little words: Ein Bier, bitte.
Have a look at the clock, which is near the "Grosses Fass". And don't be afraid to pull the cord.
Tipp: after you've done it, close the clock and encourage other tourists pulling!