This morning, Shannon and I both happened to wake up around 4:45 AM. Shannon had looked up the time of the sunrise, and it was to come at 5:19 AM. We decided to go down along the Rhine and watch the sunrise. We went out behind the hotel and enjoyed the sunrise. We then walked along the Rhine a bit, saw some bas-relief sculptures of knights with various flags/emblems, then went back inside to prepare for the day.

We joined the Hagens and another gentlemen from our group for breakfast at the hotel buffet. It was very good once again. Then we went back to the room, finished packing up our stuff, and left the hotel. When the whole group was loaded onto the bus with our luggage stored, it turned out that I had not properly settled our bill somehow. I was unaware that I would even have a bill. Apparently the sour lemonade that I got with dinner on the prior day was 17 euro. Our tour guide Thomas had paid it, and I paid him back with a 20 euro bill. Rather embarrassing, but a good lesson that apparently you can never have any liquid in this country for free, even when you’ve been told it is included with your meal.

One big mistake we made on this trip is not having enough water bottle capacity. We should’e gotten a large soft pack collapsible water bottle to fill up in the hotels to keep ourselves hydrated during the day. I think I’m probably dehydrated rather seriously. We were smart enough to bring electrolyte packets, and I think those have been a life saver. The lemon lime ones are quite good, the white peach not as much.

The bus left Mainz at 9 AM and took us to Heidelberg, which lies along the Neckar river. It was about a 90 minute ride away. We got off at a tourist information area, and some members of the group used the bathroom before we did an hour or so walking tour of the city. Heidelberg is an important university city. The university is still in operation today, and continues its legacy of being one of the more important universities in Germany.

We located the site of the Heidelberg Disputation, which at this point is just a marker on the road. The building where it occurred is no longer standing.

Several times Thomas has told us that buildings that no longer exist were destroyed by French troops either during the 30 Years War, the Napoleonic Wars, or at other times. Some things of course were also destroyed during WW2. A decent portion of Worms was apparently destroyed in WW2 for example. Heidelberg was left mostly intact physically during that conflict, allegedly because the Allies during WW2 (British and American, not Soviet) saw potential for a future military headquarters there, and NATO did later on operate in that area, evidently. Thomas said this was something he had heard. I suppose people may have been planning for the aftermath of WW2 by that point and anticipating that the Soviets would be opponents in the future.

We also saw a Studentenkarzer, or student jail. Apparently there were special jails for students of the university who got too rowdy back during the Middle Ages.

We next took a funicular up a steep hillside to get to the castle above Heidelberg. It is mostly in a ruined state, but some parts of the building are not ruins, and other parts are being restored in some form or fashion. The views from the castle on the hill were quite spectacular.

After wandering the castle grounds, we had some bratwurst (allegedly, it was some kind of sausage anyway) and fries for lunch. The folks operating the cafe the credit card was declined, but we have had no indication that there would be a problem, and they may have just preferred cash. After lunch we took the funicular back down the hillside. Shannon went to a souvenir shop and purchased a fine leather bag and a snowman.

After our bus driver, Sergei, picked us up, with impressive feats of maneuvering the bus, we drove for 2 hours or so to W├╝rzburg. We checked into a modern sleek hotel operated by Mariott. The dinner for tonight included wine tasting, but was a far distance away, and the meal consisted almost entirely of asparagus-based dishes. I declined to attend, and stayed back at the hotel to shower, rest, and try to re-hydrate. I had a couple bites of the steak jerky we brought along, a bottle of water, another bottle of water with electrolytes, and I’ve got 2 more bottles of water on deck.

We have an early start tomorrow going to the Neuschwanstein castle. The bus leaves at 7:30. I’m going to have to make breakfast count.