Thursday, October 29, 2009


Good morning all
I left Erlangen at 8 this morning and arrived in Heidelberg at 12:30. What a great decision! This is a marvellous town with a whole lot going for it. Basically, the town seems to be the castle (tourism) and the university. The numbers of bikes is immense and some people don´t lock them. I saw two stolen in 5 minutes! No doubt they were just borrowing. It is a Sunday, after all. There were also the usual ones clearly abandoned, one with ivy trailed through the spokes.
I took a bus to the castle station. The buses share the tram lines including the super stops. It worked just fine and as there were cars in the way only occasionally, the buses are able to keep their timetables well. A finicula railcar winds its way up the mountain with a stop for those going to the castle. 3€ to go up, 5€ the return. The castle is in various stages of disrepair because of war action, lightning, and other fires. The ruling families rebuilt bits until the 19th c when it was decided the ruins were more important. At various times the families here were important on a European scale. Much was made of the marriage of the Stuart princess (grandaughter of Mary Q of S) to the heir. Though arranged, this was a love match which delivered 13 kids in 18 years. The artillery park became her private garden, and her husband demolished the top of the main tower to build a hall with large windows for concerts and plays. Their wedding was in London and Shakespeare wrote a play for the wedding feast and acted in it. Then followed a fireworks display which pleased the prince so much he organised one such on their return, the first display in Heidelberg. It is re-celebrated annually.
The daughter of one ruler produced the boy who later became Elector of Hanover before George I of England. It really was a fascinating tour. Then I walked through the old city looking at the churches and houses.
There was an organ concert in a Lutheran church at 5, a piano and cello concert in a hall at 7:30, and a Mozart Mass etc for John´s Day (how suitable is this pour moi?) which I attendfed at 8. It was very good with a choir of about 45, an orchestra of less than 20, 4 soloists, and a small organ. It began with an introit in Gregorian chant, about as good as I´ve ever heard. They pronounced the Latin very closely (I think exactly) to how we do it it at Christ Church, which made a big contrast to the Spanish manner where some letters are giving two syllables, x being sung eck - ess, for example. For the rest, it was excellent, my only criticism being that the tempi were sometimes too fast, or the volume too great. Much of the detail was lost in the reverberant acoustic.
This Jesuit church is said to be baroque but is the most restrained baroque I´ve yet seen. It´s the same rectangular floor plan as a romanesque church with a rounded apse as the sanctuary. The side aisles are separated from the nave by squarish pillars and the whole interior is painted white. The capitals of the columns are composite - mixtures of styles - with the details picked out in gold or green. The main organ is a relatively small one, and though it is not old they are raising money for another.
My train leaves in less than 2 hours so I´ll leave this and walk to the station.
Counting the days to home!
God bless you all.

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