Tonight I had one of those moments that are the reason I love travel so much. I was going to say that it was odd to have one of these highlight moments, since several things didn’t work out for us leading up to the moment. But actually, while that is true, it is also true that several things also worked out better than expected. Which is generally how these moments come about.
Ok, I need to explain instead of talking in circles.
Getting here to Heidelberg was… not smooth. Pregnant turtles on the runway meets sitting in the queue to take off too long and needing to refuel before re-entering the 70+ airplane queue, meets bad weather coming through… and we were at JFK airport in what our pilot called ‘gridlock.’ We waited over 5 hours on the plane before we could take off. It was crazy.
We get here 5 hours late to find our bank wants us to verify it’s really us before letting us use our ATM cards. That’s fine, except it still won’t let us get cash although we’ve done all the verification stuff. We travel a lot, this has never been an issue before.
We had a small continental breakfast on the plane and missed lunch.
And the tourist office is already closed. According to the online information it was supposed to be open another 2 hours, but it’s closed. And online says it is open shorter hours tomorrow, but it’s not, it’s closed tomorrow, too. So there’s no tourist office until our third day here, and we leave the morning of the 4th day. Of course, this is the first trip in a LONG time where I didn’t book everything ahead of time. I wanted to talk to someone in person about the options.
Well, this was not how all this was supposed to go.
SO, here we are, talking to the nice young girl at the front desk of the hotel about options. We know our first evening is going to be taking it slow. We’re exhausted. We want food, and then we were thinking of just walking over the old bridge and taking in the views. She says, “Oh, you can go over to that side and watch the fireworks.”
“The Schloss Heidelberg fireworks?”
“Yes, they start at 10pm.”
“Online, it said the summer fireworks start next weekend.” (I remember specifically because I was kinda bummed about that.)
“No, they are going to be tonight.”
Oh, well, isn’t that a nice little bonus? Ok, let’s shake off the mess so far, we’ll work it out. It’s dinner, and then walk over and find a good viewing point to watch the fireworks. Which is what we do. We find one spot that is possible, but I’m worried we’re so far away that Schloss Heidelberg will be really small in the pictures. So Scott saves that spot, and I walk closer to the Old Bridge, and wind up finding a spot with a great view of the castle. Not so much the Old Bridge as far as view, but they are the Schloss Heidelberg fireworks, so I think this will be fine. (Yes, now I know.) I text Scott and he finds me, and we camp out waiting for the fireworks.
The couple beside us live in a nearby town and came on a whim when they heard there would be fireworks. They’re originally from Romania, but live in Germany now. We have a fun little chat.
Just before fireworks start, the boats start pulling up to give their passengers a good view. Right in front of us. Big old dinner cruise mast right between us and the schloss. Sigh. So, Scott and I move a little further up, though it means the big tree blocks even more of the bridge.
The fire works start! The schloss lights up, the fireworks – are meh. Scott and I start giving each other sidelong glances. Is this it? Ah well, it’s fireworks, we weren’t expecting to have anything, and Schloss from Hell (It’s almost completely lit up red, and quite ominous) is pretty cool looking, so it’s ok.
And all of a sudden, the real show begins. Streaks of golden shimmer shoot up in series. Patterns arc through the sky. Starbursts of lights in alternating colors shoot off in series… all up and down the bridge… that is behind the big cluster of trees… so we can’t see 80% of it.
I try a couple of times to get a good photo or two. It’s pretty much pointless. And if we try to get around the big clump of trees, we’re going to hit a wall of people. We can see the people-mass from here.
So… I just write it off. I put the camera in my bag, lean back against my hubby, and watch what I can see. The guys sitting by us now have snacks and beer and wine. One turns to me, and I can’t understand a word he’s saying, but he’s offering me some of his peanuts. It turns out I can smile, nod, and point in German, so he smiles and nods back. They pull out little paper cups and start offering some of their wine up and down the line. The dinner cruise boat that pulled in front of us plays music, and they start singing along, half drunk and having a wonderful time. Really, they were a lot of my entertainment for the evening.
As the fireworks come to an end, the boat in front of us lays on his horn, and the rest of the boats down in the river do the same, like the boat version of the applause and cheering that’s broken out in the crowd. We all turn and start making our way out of the melee, but it’s all laid back and celebratory. Everyone has beer or wine. One girl’s drinking wine right from the 750ml bottle, but mostly it’s open cups and beer bottles and lots of different languages, and smiling and laughing and occasional bursts of loud chanting. Scott and I buy beers at a street-side biergarten and hold hands as we weave in and out of people, drinking as we go.
Nothing that happened today was what I had planned. Well, aside from the fact that we did actually make it to Heidelberg, and we did, in fact, eat dinner. And, I’m happy. I’m enjoying the chaos and mish-mash of languages, and just the feel of being in a festive foreign city.
All that stuff I would usually plan? It’s nice. But this feeling right here? This is better.