Monday, May 5, 2008

A Spontaneous Adventure

You know what they say about road trips: getting there is half the fun. That's especially true on short trips to Heidelberg, when you pass an impressive-looking castle atop a hill and decide to stop and explore it. You follow the signs that point you toward Schloss Auerbach, driving through a quaint little town before following a narrow road that curves around and up the hill. There are hikers and bikers (on cycles and scooters) and big black beetles, but the wooded path you take on foot is peaceful. Birds chirp and a tiny stream trickles by. At the top of the hill stands the mighty fortress. In the 13th century it was built, and in 1674 it was invaded by Scottish Highlanders by way of an underground tunnel. Today it serves as a giant playground of sorts, where the imagination can soar far above the hills and trees and modern civilization that bustles below. It's hard to confirm which view is the most impressive: the perspective from the ground looking up at the massive, rustic stone walls; the vantage point from the tops of the two towers; or the frightening drop of an ancient well (or is it the tunnel entrance?), deep and dark. After plenty of exploration, you return to your car and continue on your way to the original destination. There you take a bathroom break and buy a stuffed elephant, and then it's time to return home. Yes, getting there is definitely half the fun.