The “Roads” of Europe

Part 2  Germany’s “Castle Road”

Germany’s “Castle Road” (Burgenstraβe) runs from Mannheim, through Heidelberg and along the Neckar River, up past Rothenburg, and on to the Czeck Republic, passing over 90 castles in over 1200 km.  This was our first ‘Road’, one that we were introduced to with our Rail Pass, which included a free bus tour from Heidelberg up the Castle Road, along the Neckar river, and connecting with the “Romantic Road” at Rothenburg.  We got off at this point, and started another adventure in Rothenburg and along the remainder of the Romantic Road, but that’s another story.

Bergenstrasse from Author Ian Kent

We remember Heidelberg vividly, not for its beauty and history, but because we landed at the train station late at night, after a harrowing day, with no accommodations reserved.  Bad move!  The station was filled with backpackers and other travellers trying to find a place to stay.  The backpackers were no problem, they were looking for a cheap hostel or maybe just a comfortable lounge in the station to sleep on.  They had a ‘tourist accommodation’ board set up in the station, where they listed all the places around, and usually told you if they had any vacancy.  Everything was full, and Diana and I began to think that we, too, would be sleeping in the station that night.  All was not lost, luckily, I had a copy of a tourist guide list of Heidelberg accommodations that I had made back home.  So I began to phone some of these on the local payphone.  (That’s another thing today’s kids don’t even know about . . . “what’s a pay phone?”) 

As I said, I started with some on the list we could afford, and of course they were all full.  I slowly went down my list into the expensive ones and finally found one that had a vacant room. 

Prinz Hotel from Author Ian Kent

Prinz Hotel

This the listing I was looking at:

Prinz Hotel listing from author Ian Kent

Prinz Hotel listing

All my requirements were there: ‘First Class’ – that can be scary sometimes, private bath and toilet, extras such as cucina creativa italiana in a ‘fine Italian Restaurant’ were not on my list, but it sounded good!  Pool Club, thermal whirlpool and a Roman steam bath with a waterfall shower sounded absolutely delightful by that time.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to enjoy hardly any of it, but I immediately said I would take it!  Of course we had no idea where this hotel was, but a local taxi did know, and we were soon on our way.  We arrived at the “Prinz Hotel”, a beautiful boutique hotel, with all of the amenities listed above, everything you would desire.  After a shower, we collapsed into that soft bed with puffy duvets, wishing we could stay for several days. 

No such luck, we had to set our alarm and be out of there and back to the train station by 8AM the next morning to catch our tour bus for the Castle Road.  We didn’t even get a chance to enjoy the deluxe breakfast they provided with the room . . . just a coffee and a bun at the station!  (Das  Restaurant im Hauptbahnhof Heidelberg).  That’s the German way of saying “The Restaurant at the Main Train station of Heidelberg”.

Train Station Restaurant Napkin from Author Ian Kent

Train Station Restaurant Napkin

As you can see by the listing the prices are in D-Marks and US Dollars.  They must have given us a deal on the room, because we were only charged 175 DMarks or $ 135Cdn, which doesn’t sound too bad now, but at that time, on that trip, it was about three times what we usually paid, and adding a double taxi ride on it, way over our budget!  But . . . that happens once in awhile, and if you don’t want to sleep in the train station, SUCK IT UP!  At that point, it was the most expensive places we had stayed, but it’s one we remember with a laugh.  ‘The night we almost slept in the train station’.

You tend to remember these events very clearly, usually with a laugh, and the countless times when everything goes smoothly fade into history.  Just another note about the Prinz Hotel . . . I have searched for it lately, and it is no longer in Heidelburg, but has relocated to Rothenburg . . . just sayin’, in case you want to try it!

Prinz Hotel today from Author Ian Kent

Prinz Hotel today

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