Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Speyer, Heidelberg, Baden-Baden

There was a light snow shower again this morning, enough to cover the car.  After breakfast we visited the Dom.  The Spayer Dom is the greatest Roman Church in the world, construction from 1030-1124.  The Cathedral is a UNESCO site.  The cathedral is and always has been an Episcopal Church.
Spayer Dom

Our Overnight Guesthaus in Spayer
 After seeing the Dom and a walk around the town of Speyer, we were on the road east to Heidelberg.  We did not realize the city of Heidelberg was so close to the mountain.   It was a lovely setting with the castle and castle ruins on the hillside above the city.  The Christmas markets were located in plazas spread along their large pedestrian shopping street.  The markets were nice, but not one of the best.  Of course after seeing 20+ Christmas markets we are looking for unique!
Shopping Street in Heidelberg

Christmas Market Pyramid

Christmas Market with Castle Ruins in Backgraound
Cathedral in Heidelberg

We stopped for tea at a local Coffee-Bakery Café.

Wish you were here for a cup of tea
When we had our tea the waitress told us about the Schwetzingen Christmas Market, which was nearby.  After we arrived we found that the market did not open until 5:00 pm on weekdays.  However the market setting was very unique.  Some of the market was inside on the grounds of the Castle and the rest of the market was on the plaza right outside the Castle gates.  They also had a very large outdoor ice skating area that was already in use.  
We decided to continue on our way to Baden-Baden.  In the past we have looked for hotels/guesthouses in the downtown area so that we can walk to the Christmas markets.  Tonight we did something different.  We are in what I would call a B&B that is 20 minutes from the downtown of Baden-Baden.  We stopped at the Tourist Information and they recommended a guesthouse that is in a small village located over the mountain.  ‘Over the mountain’ it was!  We were on a very narrow winding road, up over the mountain and down again to these three little village in the valley.  Grapes are growing on all the hillsides and at the top of one mountain are castle ruins.
Mais - Corn on the cob German Style

French Sweet - French Fudge

Putting Melted Cheese on the baguette
After checking in we went back into Baden-Baden for the Christmas market.  It was located on the grounds in front of the Casino and Performance Hall.  It was a very nice market, and we ate something we had not seen before.  They filled a baguette with ham or brats, and then topped it with melted cheese.  The cheese was melted in a special way and then scraped off the wheel of cheese into the sandwich.  It was delicious – especially the aged melted cheese!   We did not stay late at the market, as it was beginning to freeze on the sidewalks and we knew we were driving ‘over the mountain’ on a steep narrow road - there are times Cal mentions the grade (steepness) of a road and how difficult it would be to ride a bike up that road!! Bike riders see roads differently! 
By the time we first reached the guesthouse it was too dark to take photos, so we will try to capture the ambience of this place/village in the morning.   Once again this would be a beautiful place in the summer or early fall.  I told Cal today that sometime we’ll have to return to Germany to go ‘castle hopping’ like we are ‘Christmas market hopping’ this time!
Tomorrow we are heading deeper into Bavaria.  Not sure where we will be tomorrow night!  We are really ‘winging it’!

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