Sunday, July 27, 2008

Trip to Strasbourg, verse 11…

My friend Evan has been touring Europe this month. He came to Heidelberg and then proceeded to Munich, Prague, Barcelona, Rome, and Nice and then came back to Heidelberg for a couple of days before heading home to Dallas. It was his first time in Europe so the few days he spent in each city (a little over 3 weeks combined) gave him a reasonable sampling of some of Europe’s finest cities. The verdict? I think he’ll be back soon to "peel a few more layers off" these wonderful places.
On Thursday, he flew from Nice to Strasbourg, where I picked him up at the airport. Although I’ve been to Strasbourg itself so often I’m afraid I’ll be considered a resident for tax purposes, I’d never been to the airport. This trip was somewhat complicated by my complete reliance on our navigation system, whom we call Poposuda. It seems that Poposuda has thrown a rod. No matter what I do with her settings, she refuses to take us on highways (selecting and deselecting the avoid expressways setting has proven futile). Heidelberg to Strasbourg on back roads is a fate only the lowliest of fugitives deserves. Regardless, I found the airport and we headed to S town. However, I couldn’t find anything in Poposuda’s Points of Interest list that would get us close to the cathedral. Old city centers like that of Strasbourg can be extremely difficult to navigate as a.) They were essentially laid out by cows and b.) They are full of one way streets with limited left turn possibilities that create a vexing condition I call the “Moses Paradox”: one can clearly see the Promised Land but can’t quite get there. After driving in circles and almost driving ourselves nuts, I found a space in front of the cathedral (even though it’s better to park in the Gutenberg garage {hint, hint}).
On Saturday, I took Evan to Heidelberg’s Altstadt. We went up to the castle and cruised around taking pictures.
We had a couple of beers at the little restaurant inside the castle grounds. I highly recommend this experience if you haven't done it. This place still houses an old oven (I think) with a massive chimney that looks somewhat interesting (although nondescript) in HDR.At the castle, I walked for the first time to the area beside the main garden. Not sure what to call it, but the view of Heidelberg (including a direct shot up the Hauptstrasse) and the Neckar are big league beautiful. The sheep grazing on the hillside were also a nice touch (in all but an olfactory sense).
Something about the impending rain made me focus on some of the darker subjects we came across in our long rambling. The following faces can be found on the interior facade of the central building in the castle (I’m not sure what it’s called). The dried moss and hollow gaze of these faces are mildly disturbing up close, no? I was fascinated by the skull dangling from the beaded belt (is it a belt?) of one of the statues of one of the saints in the pink church. I can as easily picture Ozzie wearing this ornament on a Sabbath album cover. Kind of reminiscent of certain Tim Burton flicks too (in my opinion).
We had planned to take some long exposures of the castle at night but simply ran out of steam. It’s also a tedious exercise without a tripod, which I had consciously left at the compound. Anyway, we booked Evan on the Lufthansa shuttle for Sunday morning to save ourselves another trip to the airport in Frankfurt. If you’re not familiar with it, this extremely convenient van leaves and arrives between terminal one and the Crown Plaza in Heidelberg at a cost of only 18 Euros (less than a fifth of a cab and even less than the train I believe). You should make a reservation.
On Tuesday evening, we head to Barcelona for a week. We’re staying near the beach so we can bum around in the afternoons after having taken in some of the sights during the morning. As always, you can count on me to compulsively take pictures of this fascinating city.

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