“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
I think every case of severe wanderlust begins with a foreign place, and an open-minded soul starving for adventure. When one’s lucky enough to travel the world, many things happen. You come to understand the world around you and with it, you discover something else about yourself. They say experience is the best teacher, and the world the best classroom; to me, Heidelberg—a charming town in the south of Germany—became that place.
There’s something about it that made me eager. I’m not sure if it’s its kind and respectful people, clean streets, warm and cozy coffee shops, stores, or immense natural surroundings, but there was something about this place that made me want to explore, and to grow.
I was 17 years old when I first traveled to Heidelberg. With lots of hopes and dreams, good company, and a strong desire to discover the language (I knew nothing about the language then) I ventured on a four-month journey, leaving everything else behind in Mexico, my beautiful, colourful, and warm country.
My plane first arrived at Frankfurt where I took a train to Heidelberg. When I got there, I met with Peter and Cristina, the amazing couple with whom my best friend and I lived with for the time we spent there. I perfectly remember being nervous about meeting them, my friend was too (who wouldn’t be?) We had researched about the culture and traditions, but we were unsure about how to greet them—we wanted to avoid being too serious, but knew that Germans weren’t as straight forward as Mexicans were, so we weren’t sure how to approach them. Luckily Cristina spotted us first and hurried towards us with a huge smile. She saluted both of us in like four different languages, and wouldn’t stop hugging us. I was surprised, and insanely happy. It was then that I knew the four months that awaited were going to be fun and interesting.
She helped us with our bags, and drove us to the house. As soon as we arrived, she offered us lunch and showed us around. The house was beautiful, small, and rustic. It was so homey, I couldn’t stop smiling. I loved the room I would stay in, and adored the feel there was to it.
For the following days we did our looking around, went to school, and explored the town. This was the first time I spent far from home for that long, and I loved it. Living in a house with local people was one of my favourite things, too. We learned a lot about them, plus they gave us really good recommendations about activities and restaurants we could visit. After four months, we became close, which was amazing. Leaving that place, and returning with friendships made, was beyond wonderful.
Well, I think I can leave the rest of my Heidelberg story for another post, and dedicate some words here to write about the town itself.
Heidelberg is a student town so you can really spot many nationalities as you walk or bike by its streets. It’s Hauptstraße (main street), is full of stores and restaurants for every taste and budget, there’s a beautiful cathedral there, too, just walking distance away from the University and the Heidelberger Schloss, the beautiful castle that lays in the top of the mountain for all the town to see.
If you’re ever found in this charming town, be sure to walk around, shop, and eat like a local, visit its castle, and sail in the Neckar river for spectacular views. If you have more time, be sure to visit Philosophenweg to see the town from above, and marvel from its natural beauty.
Schwetzingen is a must if you have half a day free! It’s a german town about 10km southwest of Heidelberg. Its castle and gardens will definitely blow you away!
So, next time you’re planning on visiting Germany, make sure to stop by Heidelberg! It’s magical, welcoming, and full of surprises!
“Heidelberg is the city that will capture your heart.”