Heidelberg - Rick doesn't like?

Going on our second visit to step daughter stationed at Ramstein/Landstuhl. Thinking of taking train to Heidelberg for a few nights - but Rick's book is very negative on Heidelberg. Any thoughts? Any nearby suggestions?

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4769 posts

Heidelberg is a wonderful town to visit. No one knows why Rick dislikes it. We don't know why he dislikes Mainz or until recently, the entire northern and eastern halves of Germany. Heidelberg certainly isn't any more touristy than Rothenburg. There must be some reason why everyone goes there. I have been there a number of times and enjoy the castle and the view that one gets from it. We have had a several threads on the forum here discussing the pros and cons of Heidelberg. Read some of them, especially from Tom, who lives near there and who also mentions a lot of near-by places that you might want to visit.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

Get another guidebook. Lonely Planet and Rough Guides are both more complete. We used Rough Guide Germany.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
400 posts

Heidelberg is a university town - lots of great old pubs in the old part of the city. Its a nice place to hang and unwind for a couple days.

Posted by Neil
Keystone, Colorado, USA
44 posts

Thanks Jo - that link was entertaing. I think it is funny that all the Cinque Terre postings talk about how Rick ruined it with his praise. Looking forward to Heidleberg. We went to Rhine gouge and Trier last time - very good. Any specific recommendations. We'll get a car after Heidleberg. Thanks from Colorado

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

I sometimes wonder if Mr. Steves had a negative run-in with some GIs during his youthful backpacking trips, or if he's confused Heidelberg in his memory with nearby Mannheim, which also hosts a large university. Anyway, his reasons for not liking Heidelberg are known only to himself, but his opinion seems to be very much in the minority of people who have visited. Most guidebooks don't mention it, but if you'll have a rental car, check out the Nazi-era Thingstätte near the top of one of the mountains overlooking the city. It's sort of an outdoor ampitheater, and one of the largest remaining building projects from the period that wasn't destroyed by the war. Then, drive up the scenic Neckar river valley. You'll pass several attractive towns and castles. Don't miss Bad Wimpfen near the upstream entrance of the valley.

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
588 posts

Christi, that was classic, that Hogan, always sneaking out to meet the lady spies in Heidleberg!

Posted by Jeff
Taunusstein, Germany
234 posts

One person's opinion is perhaps a bit much to get excited about. It was an interesting City when I first visited 40 years ago and its still ok now. Worth a day or so maybe with the views to the west from above the city being quite nice. Plenty of hotels to consider and as gauche as it may be for simple trips like Heidelberg we use Booking.Com

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
400 posts

Maybe Rick doesn't like Hogan's Heroes and they were always sneaking out to Heidelberg...

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

Rick Steves apparently has a "grudge" against locations full of stationed US military personnel or many international expats. I think this is why he dislikes Stuttgart and Genève as well.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

It really doesn't make much sense that Rick's opinion of Heidelberg is so low, especially since he likes university towns so much, as well as other historically significant places in Germany that were not destroyed in WWII. It seems like a perfect fit for his tours given its history and location. Maybe there's something to that bit about not liking the U.S. military much. I can understand if one prefers to avoid tourist spots completely full of Americans, but, as someone else said, how then can he recommend RodT? Oh well, it's just his opinion. If you're in the area and think you want to go, then go. There's a reason everyone recommends it. Just think of all the great places in the world one would miss if he intentionally tried to avoid the U.S. military when vacationing...the settings of the Air Force and Naval Academies, the DMZ/JSA, the Normandy sites, Arlington, etc., etc. I'm not accusing RS of this...just wondering about it since others mentioned it.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2702 posts

If that is the reason why he doesn't recommend Heidelberg and Stuttgart, then he should recommend Kaiserslauten.

Posted by Neil
Keystone, Colorado, USA
44 posts

That would be a shame as the US military personnel has to endure a "grudge" from some locals overseas, as my step daughter can attest - only from some, not all. A US travel writer should be more supportive, as I see no mention of other areas where US military installations are located. (Landstuhl has quite a few restaurants, bars, hotels, a modest castle and even a red light district for an unmentioned village) We plan to visit Heidelberg and spend an extra night - we'll send Rick a postcard.

Posted by Neil
Keystone, Colorado, USA
44 posts

All right - now I want some Hogan's Heroes landmarks in Heidelberg - anybody? Sgt Schultz?

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7213 posts

Sgt. Schultz: "I know nutting!" Rick is, at heart, a Seattle liberal - so an anti-military bias is the norm. He obviously isn't concerned with tourist crowds in general, most of his highlights are THE most crowded tourist attractions.

Posted by Gary Mc
Salt Lake City
717 posts

I am not a big Rick fan but I am not sure it is anti-military. He recommends both Nürnberg and Würzburg, military bases for years. (I was assigned in both during my military career.) I think that it is mostly just limiting the scope that he has to cover. It is a business decision. If it was just some negative experience in Heidelberg, why ignore Bamberg, Regensburg, Goslar, etc. Thankfully, there are more inclusive guides. I like the Michelin Green Guide. However, if I want hotel recommendations in a town that Rick covers, I check his guide.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2900 posts

Maybe he just doesn't like Heidelberg. Anyway, he hasn't liked Heidelberg for a long time. I went to Heidelberg on my first trip to Germany. I carried with me the 1987 edition of 22 Days in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland by Rick Steves, a puny 136 page book. I just went and found it on my shelf. In it, RS states, " This famous old university town attracts hordes of Americans and any former charm is stained almost beyond recognition by commercialism. If you must see it, don't let yourself --- you've seen much better on this trip." Keep in mind how his books started. They were very limited in scope. This books states that he wanted to give you the best 22 day itinerary, but he also said, "The best, of course is only my opinion". I enjoyed my visit to Heidelberg and I'm glad I went. However, there are plenty of places in Germany that I have enjoyed more.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2900 posts

He gave Würzburg 2 triangles, but I couldn't find Nürnburg. The book has no index and it is extremely limited. Basically, these old books followed a circular route by train or car with 22 days laid out and mentioned some of the towns in the vicinity of the 22 days. Nürnburg isn't along the "route". He traveled a lot more cheaply back then ... lots of pensions and youth hostels listed. Every year they've expanded. Pulling out the book has brought back some fond memories though. A friend and I traveled for 3 weeks through Germany. Her brother was stationed in Nürnburg so we started there. The next stop was a night at the home of another family member in Hardheim(?), a town with a small American military presence. I still remember sitting in the local bar there (there wasn't a lot to do). One of the Germans asked us why we would come to Germany for vacation when we could go instead to Texas. Evidently he had been there the year before and thought it was the greatest place ever. I like the fact that RS has an opinion. It makes things more interesting. I don't always agree with it. I mean, I've always wondered how anyone could go to Hallstatt year after year; I thought it was worth a photo, but one night was plenty for me. To each his own :)

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

"This famous old university town attracts hordes of Americans and any former charm is stained almost beyond recognition by commercialism." I also like the fact that Mr. Steves has an opinion, but it's a real stretch to match the description he gives with the actual city of Heidelberg. If by "commercialism", he means souvenir stands, yes, there's a few around one of the churches, but that's just about it. Far less than in most of the tourist fun-house towns her recommends. If by "commercialism" he means the fact that the Haupstraße is lined with modern stores and restaurants that serve the needs of the resident population, or the general commerce that would exist in any German city of similar size... well, what does he really expect? Should all of Europe be frozen in some mythical pre-industrial past for the viewing benefit of foreign tourists? And yes, many Americans and plenty of other nationalities visit as tourists, but at any given moment, the number of tourists on the Hauptstraße will be dwarfed by the student population. Can't say the same for Rothenburg, Bacharach, Beilstein, et al. So, Mr. Steves can have his opinions, but I don't think he's doing his readers any favors by giving a misleading and largely inaccurate description of Heidelberg.

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
702 posts

Martin, FYI, a couple of the ones shown on there have since closed or will be closing soon. I spent a couple years living on the Hauptstrasse in Heidelberg and it was probably my favorite place I've ever lived. The only reason we left was because I had a chance to come back to Italy where I'd been for almost 10 years before moving to Heidelberg and I'll readily admit that there are times I wish we'd never left. Heidelberg is a wonderful town and I just can't fathom how anyone who has explored it could dislike it. If RS doesn't like it because of the crowds, fine, but that would call into question his undying love of places like Rothenburg OdT and Venice. Hell, even his description of Heidelberg as a place where the old world charm has been replaced by the stain of commercialism could also be attributed to many of the places he loves such as Venice or Cinque Terra.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4769 posts

The map of the military installations still doesn't explain the total disregard for the northern and eastern halves of Germany, plus the abundance of bases in Bavaria doesn't explain it either. I can understand just not liking a place, but to post comments that aren't very true is misleading the many fans and readers of the guidebooks and users of this forum. People are missing out on so many wonderful places because they have been told that such and such city or town is not worth it, and if Rick says it, it must be true. It would be nice if Rick would come on here and let his fans know why he has such a dislike for Heidelberg and Mainz. Mainz is listed with Wiesbaden as a "lowlight" and being too big or too famous. That is pathetic, to list one of the oldest and most important sites of Germany like that. It is obvious that he has never toured there, or he would probably change his mind. Visiting the Mainzer Dom, the Chagall windows in St. Stephans, viewing the Baroque ceilings in St. Augustine or seeing the Roman Isis Temple ruins, are all highlights and not lowlights.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

"It is obvious that he has never toured there, or he would probably change his mind." The fact that he wrote he's been looking for the "untouristy Rothenburg" for years and finally found it in Erfurt (of all places!) indicates to me that he just hasn't explored Germany very thoroughly off the well-trodden Grand Tour routes of his back-packing days. Well, at least he's finally left the comfort zone of southern Germany and attempted to include more of the east and north. Hell, did the name of Thüringen even appear in old editions of the Germany guide?

Posted by Martin
Germany
210 posts

"The map of the military installations still doesn't explain the total disregard for the northern and eastern halves of Germany, plus the abundance of bases in Bavaria doesn't explain it either. " To me it explains it quite well. Most military bases were located close to Frankfurt and along the Rhine. The personnel of the bases discovered the surroundings and told people back home about the "Romantic Rhine". The local tourism industry reacted very early and promoted this view internationally, because especially in the 50s the Americans were the only tourists with money.
Franconia became popular for the same reasons. Military bases and close to the biggest airport of the country. The Romantic Road was the direct connection from the biggest airport to Southern Bavaria, with basically the only big city in the American sector in relatively good condition after WW2. And close to Füssen were two military bases. End of Part 1

Posted by Martin
Germany
210 posts

Part 2 That's the only explanation for the disregard of Northern Germany I can think of. And Eastern Germany was behind the Iron Curtain of course. But I think it slowly changes now. After all Rick Steves already found out that he has to add one or two sights between the RR and Berlin (Erfurt, the new Rothenburg, hihi), and by 2030 he will have discovered the Harz mountains. ;) But tourists don't change their minds so quick. They don't want to see the best of a country but their perception of the best. And... just imagine this, a dialogue between a adventurous tourist and his family: Traveler: "...and then I went to the Wartburg." Family: "Wartburg.... sounds funny. What is this?" Traveler: "It's a castle in Thuringia." Family: "Is this near Paris?" Traveler: "No, it's a castle in Central Germany." Family: "Ahh" Traveler: "It was the seat of a margrave." Family: "I see." Traveler: "The Sängerkrieg happened there." Family: "Huh?" Traveler: "Luther translated the bible there!" Family: "Ahh, Luther. Did you know what pastor Jones said during the service last Sunday? He said that..." Traveler: "ANYWAY... it's a huge castle and in the 19th century they reconstructed it. The Wartburg was actually the inspiration for Neuschwanstein."
Family: "OH, WOW, NEUSCHWANSTEIN. Have you seen it? It's so wonderful and romantic! Isn't it? And I love the mad king. I love the castles! And Bavaria! I LOVE it! Is the beer that good? Did you eat pretzels?

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

I don't think I qualify as an "adventurous tourist", but sadly a few years ago, I had a very similar conversation. My wife had business in Brussels, and I used the opportunity on this sunny day to grab an outdoor beer and a meal on the Grand Place. Sitting within earshot of me were a small group of Americans about my age or slightly older (I'm not very old, BTW). They were discussing their travel styles, and noting how they liked to "become temporary locals", "go off the beaten path" and experience "authentic local culture", particularly night life. Sure enough, two of them were grasping the Blue Book like a pious Moslem holds prayer beads. I began to talk to them, asked them where they were from, what they planned to see on their trip, etc. Their itinerary included Brugge, Haarlem, Amsterdam, the Aalsmeer flower market and Paris. I suggested that if they liked night life and wanted to see something "off the beaten path", they should perhaps consider a side trip to Ghent from either Brussels or Brugge. I explained to them that it had a beautiful historic core, castle included, great restaurants, and because it hosts a large university, much more night life than Brugge. One of them quickly consulted the Blue Book (this was before Ghent and Antwerp were added as officially sanctioned "Rick Steves Destinations"). The response was a muted "We'll think about it", like you would say to someone who's recommending a movie that you know you'll never want to see. Oh, well...

Posted by LaRae
spokane
472 posts

Spent a couple days in Heidelberg and thought it was great.

Posted by Michael
Griffith, IN, USA
440 posts

During the cold war period the Northern and Eastern parts of the once West Germany consisted mainly of American military training grounds and English troops. The American Military had a huge presents in Southern Germany and towns like Heidelberg, Augsburg, Ulm, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Munich, were full of American GI's. Stuttgart, Worms, Mannheim, Mainz, Kaiserslautern, Frankfurt, Koblenz, to name a few you didn't even want to go to. Look at a old West and East German map. Just 25 years ago you had troops on the ready and prepared for a war. People give RS a bad time about Northern Germany and towns that were once in East Germany. They weren't even worth the time until a few years ago. Many were a mess. Some still are. Myself I have ventured to the North and have found a few great little villages and a few neat cities. But the average tourist who may go once in a lifetime isn't going there on the first trip. RS sends people to proven tourists spots and cities people hear about. IMO it is his business he must be doing something right. He is the millionaire.

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1509 posts

So Tom; A group of folks who are on a rare trip to Europe they have probably been planning for quite some time, with an itinerary already set, happens to sit next to a stranger touting his affection for a place not on their list. What do you expect them to do, stop everything and follow a stranger's advice? No, they were not brave adventure travelers. And yes, they may have been a bit too dependent upon one persons (RS) advice and travel mantra. But the person who's advice they were following has millions of fans for a reason. You were a stranger. It's all about perspective. You see everything through the lens of a person who lives there and can poke around with ease and abandon. Seen from a different perspective, I'm just happy they were not following the bouncing umbrella of a tourist group on their way to the coach bus. I don't view them with disdain. I'm happy for them. If they have a successful trip, they are more likely to do it again. And each additional excursion will naturally involve more confidence and less reliance upon any guide book. As for the poor, shunned villages of Germany; I'm sure it's fun to speculate why Mr Steves might not include them, and it's especially fun to come up with wicked intent. But I think the main reason is a lot more simple than that. And it's very similar to the reason why, if RS wrote a guide book to the USA, he would likely leave out my home of Minneapolis. Not because it isn't a great city (it is), but because it's not significantly nicer or more interesting than a dozen other cites that logistically fit better in RS-style itinerary to somewhere else. I can live with that just fine. That, and the fact that the Germany guide book is already almost 1000 pages long.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

"A group of folks who are on a rare trip to Europe they have probably been planning for quite some time, with an itinerary already set, happens to sit next to a stranger touting his affection for a place not on their list. What do you expect them to do, stop everything and follow a stranger's advice?" They specifically stated their itinerary was flexible and they didn't have all their reservations. Hence, I recommended a town that's less than 30 minutes from Brugge, one train station away, on their direct line of travel and that they could easily incorporate in their existing plans. I didn't recommend a town clear on the otherside of the country or one that would involve a significant deviation from their general direction of travel. Likewise, for someone headed from the Rhine to Munich, who claims they like to "go off the beaten path", I'm not going to recommend they head out of their way to Marburg or Quedlinburg, but I might suggest alternatives to Rothenburg along that same route... if they really want to go off said beaten path, and aren't just repeating a meaningless cliché. (cont.)

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
702 posts

Randy, you are way off base here. From what I've gathered, Tom's wife is from Belgium and he knows the country much better than RS. He gave those idiots a first hand recommendation that met their stated goal much better than did the RS guidebook (seriously...becoming 'temporary locals' and nightlife...in Brugge?!) and they dismissed him out of hand. You also trivialized the fact that Tom just might know what he's talking about because he actually LIVES there which is, on its face, ridiculous. I've lived and traveled here in Europe since 1998; I can't tell you how many times I've been in Tom's position and have offered first hand advice to travelers that I've happened to meet. Sometimes I've traded email addresses and have gotten emails from people thanking me profusely for recommending places or ideas to them that differed from what their guidebook said. I learned about some of my favorite places over the years from people like Tom. People like him (and, dare I say, even me) are sometimes a much better resource than any guidebook writer who visits certain places in Europe once a year, if that.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

(cont) Finally, the point we're raising about Heidelberg (and Mainz and Wiesbaden) isn't that Rick Steves doesn't recommend it. Fine, no guidebook can include every worthwhile place to visit. The objection is that the reasons he specifically gives for avoiding these cities have little resemblence to the towns themselves. Let me provide a counter example for a hypothetical guidebook for the US. Suppose the author wrote this about Seattle: "Seattle was once a charmingingly rugged Pacific Northwest frontier and port town, but modern commerce and hordes of Asian tourists have transformed this once scenic city into an industrial and tacky wasteland. Avoid it on your trip to America." Doesn't sound much like the real Seattle, does it? Well, that's about how Mr. Steves' description of Heidelberg rings. PS: Thanks, Rik. And isn't that exactly how Mr. Steves first learned about the Cinqe Terre?

Posted by Martin
Germany
210 posts

"As for the poor, shunned villages of Germany; I'm sure it's fun to speculate why Mr Steves might not include them, and it's especially fun to come up with wicked intent. But I think the main reason is a lot more simple than that. And it's very similar to the reason why, if RS wrote a guide book to the USA, he would likely leave out my home of Minneapolis. Not because it isn't a great city (it is), but because it's not significantly nicer or more interesting than a dozen other cites that logistically fit better in RS-style itinerary to somewhere else. I can live with that just fine." Well, since most of his book is about Southern Germany the rest of the country of course can't fit logistically. :D
And he doesn't leave out a few "poor shunned villages" but several World Heritage Sites (WHS) and half of the country. I'm quite sure he would finally find his second Rothenburg if he would visit one of the towns in Central or Northern Germany that are WHS because of their preserved town centres. And these weren't some provincial backwaters but mighty imperial or trading cities. Or, to put it this way: it's like leaving out New Orleans in a travel guide about the USA because it's neither close to NY nor California.

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1509 posts

Rik, Anyone who has lingered here for a while knows that Tom's knowledge of the area is extensive and any recommendation he made should be given some weight. But the story he tells is not about people (idiots, you call them) who are lingering here looking for information. They are people having a meal, being talked to by a stranger. Context is everything. This is an old, tired discussion repeated every month or so that seems to serve as some sort of venting opportunity for a certain segment of the RS community, many of whom actually live (or have lived) in the area. That you have grown familiar with it and found places you love is understandable and commendable. Of course you should pass that along to others when the opportunity arises. But don't be surprised if your suggestions are not always followed. What kind of person expects otherwise? If nothing else, we should agree that people's travel preferences are unique to them. Just because something appeals to you doesn't mean it will appeal to anyone else. All you can do is toss the opinion out there and have enough grace not to call people idiots if they don't jump on it. Meanwhile, somehow, even though the RS guides to other countries all have a similar format (following a general path that winds up excluding large sections of the country) we are almost never treated to similar threads about the UK, Scandinavia, France, Spain & Portugal, Italy, Croatia & Slovenia, etc. Why is that?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

'Why is that?' It's because there are ingnoramusi all over the place. Tom just gave an example from his neck of the woods. Toward the end of the year I was on the Scrabster-Stromness ferry. Other than regular people just going about their business, was a small bus with a dozen Americans on a tour - - Seven-Days-of-Magic-Scotland or something. Information gleaned from talking to a few of them: * They were glad they were getting to see more of the Hebrides. * None knew what was involved in the the day's sites, but the guide would tell them as they got there. * As an exception to the above, all knew that they were going to stop at either a jewelry or pottery factory. * I was exceptionally brave for traveling alone in a foreign country. * One fellow described himself as 'quite the expert' on both World Wars and had even taken a tour of Normandy the year before. Hoping for some intelligent conversation, I asked him what he thought of the parallels between Dunkerque and the later stages of Gallipoli - - he got Gallipoli somewhere in Belgium in the wrong war. Trying to shift to something closer, I asked if the tour bus was going to pass by Scapa Flow later in the day - - he didn't know what that was either. Somewhere in the middle of the afternoon, I was poking around the Stenness circle when the bus came barrelling by. Not a single nose was pressed up against the window. Apparently they were all counting their coins for the jewlelry/pottery factory visit. But they sure had spiffy travel clothes and safari jackets and such.

Posted by Allen
Lafayette, LA
194 posts

A guidebook? You mean people still carry those relics?

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
749 posts

Rick is doing a speaking tour soon. Would someone please go and ask him the reason he doesn't like Heidelburg, then report it back here, and we can close out this discussion, again!!! Me personally, I enjoyed my day in Heidelburg. Picturesque, quaint, historically interesting to me and NOT swarming with tourists - first week of September. Plus I found the best bakery of my trip there.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2612 posts

@Elaine... could not agree more...its like the big mystery. Actually I think he probably just ended up with a bad travel partner who ruined his time there. He needs to try again! And frankly I love Heidelberg and am happy we do not have more tourists there... so I hope he keeps it on the 'miss list.'

Posted by Allen
Lafayette, LA
194 posts

And frankly I love Heidelberg and am happy we do not have more tourists there... so I hope he keeps it on the 'miss list.' Exactly! I wish he'd put those horrid places like Rome and Florence on his crud list. Dang places are too crowded even in the off-season!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2702 posts

How true that those places listed above were swamped with GIs; aside from Kaiserslauten, include Hanau, Butzbach/Hessen, and Pirmasens. I went to Heidelberg the first time in Germany because, admittedely, it was one of the things to do on a Germany trip, unlike going to Munich and Stuttgart where I had specific sights to visit. Still, I like Heidelberg and recommend it over other areas in the south, regardless of the personal opinion given in a guide book. Nothing wrong with following a guide book to Germany but I wouldn't follow the RS books, plain and simple. Their focusing primarily on the south and the middle Rhine area, still, I don't understand (and it's not for me to understand either)doesn't lend itself to seeing and understanding the country. But if that is what American tourists/visitors want, let them. They're aren't getting any sort conprehensive view unless they head north and east. As mentioned before here, when you go to the eastern areas, not only will you find it linguistically more difficult (if you don't have that good grip on the language), there is a different feel to it. That's also depending on the city or small town. Good comparing/contrasting Dunkirk and Gallipoli...strategically, operationally, or even geographically.

Posted by Mark
Santa Barbara, CA, USA
144 posts

Tom is right. It is a shame about Basel because you then see posts like "how can I get from my river cruise to the Basel train station as fast as possible". Basel has world class museums and well preserved stunning middle age landmarks.
Also, the Rhine falls, Schaffhausen, and Stein-Am-Rhein are ignored.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

"Meanwhile, somehow, even though the RS guides to other countries all have a similar format (following a general path that winds up excluding large sections of the country) we are almost never treated to similar threads about the UK, Scandinavia, France, Spain & Portugal, Italy, Croatia & Slovenia, etc. Why is that?" I can only speak for the other countries that I know well enough to assess the strenghts and weaknesses of their respective Blue Books. I find the Switzerland book provides a good overview of the country, although it plays up Gimmelwald too much. Only thing missing might be to add Basel, mainly because it's a town any RS fan would enjoy and many people from the US visit there for business purposes. Now that the Belgium/Netherlands book has added Ghent and Antwerp, in my opinion, it has vastly improved. Maybe add something about Ypres, the Belgian coast and the Ardennes, but this might be overkill for such a relatively small country. The criticisms of the Germany book come up regularly because... quite frankly, compared to many other guidebook series and the rest of the RS cannon, many of us find it a weak entry.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

PS- There's a current thread in "To the Boot" section asking why Rick Steves doesn't cover Perugia. So, it's not just Germany.

Posted by Martin
Germany
210 posts

The RS book about Italy is relatively balanced, it covers most of the country. The only region that isn't mentioned is Sicily, which is a shame, since it's one of the most interesting region of Italy. IMHO his best book is Great Britain, which covers all regions in great detail, even Wales and the Isle of Skye(!). Even his book about the Czech Republic is much better than Germany. It covers some very remote places in Moravia and Wallachia(?!). RS Germany on the other hand simply misses not just a town here or there but half of the country. Is there a second book in his series which leaves so much out?

Posted by Jeff
Lakeland, FL, USA
1 posts

Hi Neil, I loved Heidelberg when I did the grand tour. You will enjoy the castle on the hill with the largest wine barrel ever made and the remains of the ammunition storage turret (it exploded somehow). I'd recommend a full day in Heidelberg. I'd also suggest a half-day visit to nearby Mannheim to see the splendid Baroque university buildings and the wassertower, both downtown. Happy travels, Jeff Griggs
Lakeland, Florida

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

I've visited Heidelberg 6 or 7 times and enjoy it, and too was shocked by Rick's description. That said, one of those later visits was a weekend in summer when a music festival was going on in the old city, and my god, it was absolutely packed. I don't think I'd been to any city my travels that was that mobbed (and not just with tourists, obviously it was a ton of locals who came out to enjoy some music and beer). So maybe Rick was there on a day like that and never bothered to go back? I have no idea. I do like Heidelberg but I think more than 2 nights there specifically would be overkill. More would be fine if you're going to use it as a base to explore the Neckar River Valley. Love the fight, as usual I find Tom has covered what I think and I see no reason to contribute to the slap match further.

Posted by Russ
Baltimore
82 posts

I've been to Heidelberg a couple of times. While it might not be worth going out of your way to visit, if you're in the area it's certainly worth a day trip.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3314 posts

Heidelberg was one of the first weekend trips we took from Reutlingen. We stayed in the Youth Hostel across the river. We liked the castle and the town. Loved hearing the dueling stories. It was a great intro to traveling on our own.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

"and the remains of the ammunition storage turret (it exploded somehow)." I'm going to take a guess and say that it exploded because of Swedish, French or Imperial cannonfire?

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Well some people are "Rick slaves" then only want to go to places Rick recommends etc and DO look suspsiously on other suggestions from locals, expats and experienced visitors. Its their loss I figure. I see it on here all the time. I don't know what RS said about Heildburg , did he put it down, or just ignore it? He ignores alot of places, I wouldn't take that as "he doesn't like " but just he can't cover everywhere in depth so picks some favorites.. it certainly is up to the traveller to put on their big girl/boy panties and do a little more research on other forums and use other guide books to put together a trip custom fit to them. Some people are too nervous to do that though. Thats fine if thats what they are happy with, but for those curious about other places not mentioned in RS books etc, don't worry, you may find some of your own "back doors" and hidden gems.

Posted by Linda
Boulder, CO, USA
48 posts

Neil, I've been to Heidelberg many times and love it. Definitely go and see the castle! It's also beautiful to walk around the grounds. We ate at a great place recommended for burritos (though not what we get in Colorado, but delicious anyway), by Let's Go. I can't remember the name, but it was in the downtown area. We also drove south along the Neckar River and ate lunch at one of the castles up on a hill side. It was very enjoyable. Don't miss Heidelberg.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Sorry reread the thread,, found Lauras post with the RS quote in it. Rather ironic comment , I personally feel Rick himself has done that exact same thing to a few place he has touted over the years.. ruined them and make the locals take the lovely inflow of RS tourists as an excuse to let service slip and prices rise.. very very ironic. Perhaps RS dislike of Heildburg is a good thing,, for Heildburg.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1970 posts

@ Elaine and Terry kathryn, Rick will be here in Bloomington to speak Friday night, but the cheap seats are $50 and the VIP are $180. Otherwise, I'd be happy to ask the Heidelberg question. And if I chose to spend that much money for some face time, I'd also ask my Burgundy questions, such as why Beaune is a Backdoor pilgrimage site, while Dijon and Autun are ignored or disliked. Beaune is set up to please tourists, while we have to dig a little deeper, be a little more Backdoor, to get the essence of Autun and Dijon, two gems. I think the choices are influenced by the local informants, some ex-pats and some locals.

Posted by Neil
Keystone, Colorado, USA
44 posts

To all Thanks for your input - Heidelberg is a must on my trip now (and a postcard to Rick)! Yes, Rick's negatives is a plus to keep some of the crowds away. I'm still looking for the Hogan Heroes tour. Glad to see a fun commentary and speculation going. I think it is the military angle. Neil

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2612 posts

@Bets... a little pricey for his talk... Maybe we should take up a collection or have a fundraiser and send you so we can settle this dilema once and for all:))

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1414 posts

Oh, thanks a lot. Now I've got the theme from Hogans Heroes stuck playing in my head...

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2702 posts

Neil, Good that you've decided to see Heidelberg, (I would too), regardless of the "very negative" view of it held by RS. Certainly if you're there in the summer, be prepared to find the town's Innenstadt and the castle area inundated with international tourists, which may detract from enjoying the sights. I wonder if these tourists are following the RS comments of not recommending Heidelberg.