Thursday, 7 September 2017

Untold Travel Story: Erstes Barock (2011)

If you have been following me for over 3 years, you’d know that whenever I travel, I will almost always write about it on this ol’ blog. But there are travel stories that I have yet to share, mostly because it all happens before the blog. But I’d really love to reminisce and write about them, mostly because these stories are worth telling and I may never see these people again. Maybe one day when I'm old and decrepit, this would be proof that I did indeed meet them. Enjoy!

The first trip I've ever taken in Germany was this little trip to Heidelberg with a few of my friends. It was the first independent outing we had that wasn't arranged by our agency—let's not talk about this, it's too long a story. At first, I was only going to ask my friends Zahra, Cindy and Ryan to go and check out the city together because we might go to pre-uni there, but Firu also wanted to tag along, so the five of us embarked together. In Heidelberg lived our friend Kynann who met up with us at the station and became our tour guide for the day—he and I were actually the organiser of the trip. Heidelberg is such a beautiful, antique city with various old buildings lining the streets and it didn't take us a lot to gape at the sight. And it was definitely a whole lot better with Kynann's insights guiding us through.

Getting our main objective out of the way, we went straight to the university to check out where our pre-uni campus might later on be—none of us ended up going here at all, by the way. Kynann also took us on a bit of a tour around the campus, showing us what each section and building was, etc. In case you don't know, Universität Heidelberg is prestigiously known for its medical school—and Kynann was a medical student there! I can't actually remember what time we arrived there that day, but after walking around for an hour or so, I think, we went to lunch at an Asian buffet—which was also our first experience of a buffet, I believe. I don't remember what we ate—although I remember thinking it was delicious!—but we took some photos there too (lol) because we were excited, I guess. Then, diving slowly into a food coma, we decided it would be a good idea to rest up a bit, do the afternoon prayer and check the train schedules at Kynann's flat—which was small and a bit crowded but cozy for all of us, with a gorgeous view.

So as not to stay too late, we decided to get a move on not too long afterwards. We took a walk in downtown Heidelberg, making our way through the baroque buildings, checking out the cute stores and restaurants. I don't really remember (again) why, but we seemed to have been quite excited to find this gummy sweets shop and took some photos there too (lol). You can totally tell we had just arrived. We saw the town hall—a gorgeous baroque building, of course—and the tiny square, which might have been the old city centre, with a fountain in the middle. Sadly, it was winter when we went so the fountain was definitely not turned on.

We somehow made it to the mountain railway station that would take us to the Heidelberg Schloss. Another first experience! At the castle, we saw various sights and buildings and learnt a little bit of history. There is a dip in the ground at the courtyard, where it is believed to be the footprint of the king or so, and legend has it, if your foot fits in it, you will be back in Heidelberg. I don't know if it's true, but mine did and I came back there at least twice more. There was also this giant barrel inside a dungeon of sorts, which used to store 'wine tax' back in the day. The view from up there was spectacular, by the way! You can even see pretty much the whole of the city—including the famous bridge we visited right after.

Our last stop was the famous Alte Brücke. If you ever see a postcard (or just google a picture) of Heidelberg, it will most likely include this lovely old bridge over the river Neckar. It's really just a regular bridge, except it's really, really old, with baroque structures on each end. By the time we got here, the sun was dipping slowly into the horizon and everyone, especially Cindy, was ready to call it a day, so the atmosphere was rather mellower than the rest of the day. So we sat on the bridge to rest our feet for a while, possibly chatting away, took some pictures (of Firu and me lol) and headed back to the train station. That was it, that was our first one-day trip out of town in Germany.

Looking back, it definitely feels like one of those trips that is more fun off than on 'film'—most of us weren't exactly camera-conscious back then. At the time, Zahra, Cindy, Ryan, Firu and I lived together in Etzenrot, but within around 2 weeks we went our separate ways—Firu and I stayed in the Karlsruhe area as well as Ryan and Zahra but lived separately. Kynann often came to the house I shared with Firu (and some others) later that summer and we had so many more trips together. Now, aside from Cindy, I haven't seen the others for years—Ryan and Zahra, especially, since five years ago, insane! We've all gone our separate ways; hope we can hang out again soon.

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