Alright folks, sit back and relax because I’ve got a story to tell you. I’ve only ever told a few people this story, but I think enough time has passed now that I can safely tell it to you all. It is the story of my one and only Tinder date while living in Germany. (Tinder is a dating app with a reputation but I swear this is a G rated story)
When I was living in Germany I met someone on Tinder who was studying in the city of Heidelberg, a few hours north of Stuttgart. Heidelberg was at the top of my list of places to visit, so after talking for a while we decided to meet up. I bought a bus ticket for €8 and three hours later as I was pulling into the station I started to think that, maybe, this wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe, I was about to meet up with a serial killer. Maybe, I should just ditch this guy and explore on my own. In the end, I decided to just go for it and meet up as planned and as it turned out I had nothing to worry about. He was a nice dude, and was actually pretty knowledgeable about the city. He had a whole itinerary planned for us and even brought snacks! Can’t really complain about that.
There are many different choices when it comes to travel in Germany. One of the best options is to use the Bundesland Ticket (Bundesland means ‘state’ in German) which allows travel anywhere within the state you are presently in.
All states have these tickets. The ticket price for one person is 24€ and with each subsequent person, up to 5 people, the price raises a few euros. It’s a great deal for a day trip with a few friends. But as I was traveling alone, I opted to take a limo bus (basically a Greyhound bus) for half the price.
What We Did
Heidelberg truly is a picture perfect German town, with traditional facades and red rooftops in the Altstadt (Old Town) squeezed in along the Neckar River with the ruins of the 16th century Heidelberg Castle overlooking from atop the Königstuhl hill.
The castle is one of the most popular attractions in the city. According to its website, a million people visit each year, from all over the world. The castle was first mentioned in writing in the 12th century, and subsequent expansions were made over the next few hundred years. Then in the late 1600s the castle was attacked by France in battle and destroyed. What little could be rebuilt was later destroyed again about a century later by two lightning strikes and the castle was never rebuilt.
To get to the castle one must walk up the hill it’s perched upon. But the view from the top is definitely worth the trek. The grounds are mostly open to the public for free. A large grassy area with big shade trees and benches is great for eating lunch, letting your kids run out their endless energy, or having a nice conversation with your Tinder date. There are guided tours available, but we opted not to do that, deciding instead to stroll and take pictures.
The next place we visited was something I would never guess still existed in Germany, but turned out to be really interesting. Across the Neckar from the Altstadt, is the Heiligenberg, a wooded hill that has been the site of several historical buildings, several of which are still standing, in varying forms of ruin.
The Heidelberg Thingstätte is an outdoor amphitheater built in the early 1930s by the Third Reich. This was before the Third Reich became Nazis but they were working their way up to it. They dipped way back into German history to grab the name Thing because I had to do some epic Googling to find out what that meant. Basically, it’s a gathering of ancient Germanic people, and the Thingstätte is the amphitheater built for propaganda gatherings put on by the Reich. I was amazed that a Nazi structure was still standing, and being used and visited, but it makes sense. It’s a part of the history of Germany, though it’s not talked about in regular company. It’s important to remember history, even if it’s terrible. Besides, they now use the amphitheater for the celebration of Walpurgis Night, known as Witches Night, which is pretty badass.
The wooded hilltop hides other treasures, like the ruins of the Michaelskloster, the monastery of St Michael, built in 1023. This was a really fun find, I don’t know if my date knew that it was around the same area as the Thingstätte. At the top of the amphitheater you can follow the wooded path to find the ruins of the ancient monastery. You’ll know you’re getting close because it’s in the middle of a clearing in the forest. The fresh green grass makes for a perfect picnicking spot, and you’ll probably find a lot of people hanging out if the weather is nice. Germans have a knack for taking advantage of sunny skies and warmer temperatures. You’ll also have a great view of the city from up there if it’s clear.
The rest of our time was spent walking around the city and eating. Heidelberg is one of those Germany towns that belongs on a post card. Even the University Library building is beautiful. (Pink stone with gold trimming? Yes, please!) With restaurants of all types of cuisine, coffee shops, and bars all over the city you’ll never run out of places to eat and drink. Not to mention all the other points of interest that we had to skip because our time constraints. It would be easy to spend a weekend away in the city.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done while traveling? Or craziest first date story? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!