Now, with that said: Mrs. Animal and I took advantage of the long weekend to fly the Friendly Skies once more, this time to Frankfurt.
We arrived Friday morning, and drove to Heidelberg, where I was stationed briefly (six months or so) when I was reactivated in ’96-97 for President Clinton’s Balkans fracas. I lived in the Rohrbach district in a residence hotel (efficiency apartments, more or less) called “The Rezidenz.”
Turns out that this place is now a regular hotel, still called The Rezidenz, and Mrs. A and I booked a room there, two doors down from my old apartment. The U.S. Army is pretty much gone from Heidelberg; the buildings I worked in, which were then the headquarters of US Army, Europe (USAEUR) are now standing empty. Since the Rezidenz catered largely to semi-transient soldiers, it’s not surprising that it’s now converted to serving tourists and local visitors.
Nobody I remembered from my time there was around. My favorite neighborhood bar is now an Ethiopian restaurant, and one of my two favorite German restaurants is now an Indian restaurant. But things are inevitably going to change in twenty-three years, so none of that was too surprising. In three days, I swiftly regained my bearings and was pleased to see how familiar the basic area and its people were to me. Now, as to those three days:
Friday was chilly and rainy, but later in the afternoon the sky cleared and we were able to go walkabout and see some of the old neighborhood:
Saturday was a bright, sunny day. We went for a long drive in the Odinwald, an area of forested hills where I spent a fair amount of time exploring when I was there the first time, and from there along the Neckar River back to Heidelberg:
On Sunday, we went downtown to the famous Bismarckplatz, went from there down to the “Fusseganger” shopping area, saw the Heidelberg castle, the famous Neckar River bridge and some other sights.
Lately I’ve been experiencing a little of the old man’s nostalgic desire to visit places I enjoyed in my younger years. This flying visit to Heidelberg was born of that impulse, and I’m really glad we did it. I would have liked to have stayed longer, but there may well be a time to return and, if the country hasn’t been too wrecked yet, experience a little more of Germany; Oktoberfest in Munich has long been a bucket-list item of mine, and I’d dearly love to explore the Austrian Alps.
One of these days. In the meantime, it was an enjoyable weekend. Little neighborhoods like Rohrbach are, I find, pretty much the same anywhere you go, and I was pleased to see that these old stomping grounds of mine hadn’t changed much.