Heidelberg is closing up their military base and all the Americans are leaving. Will Rick now give this beautiful and historic city another chance, rather than just tell his readers not to bother going there? http://vimeo.com/71280127
Jo, That was a great video. Thanks for posting! It's difficult to say whether this will mean that Heidelberg gets added to the Guidebook? As all the Guidebooks get revised every year, the researchers get to a "saturation point" which makes it difficult to add too many new destinations. Until then we'll have to rely on Lonely Planet, Fodors or others. There is apparently an English-language Guidebook available, as shown in this link: www.guideheidelberg.de/article_single.php?lng=en&cid=14&aid=127 I didn't see any ordering information, so I'm not quite sure how to buy one? Cheers!
I hope so along with many other great cities and villages. The current Germany guidebook contains 936 pages, so two volumes required?
I hope he does. This is an excellent presentation of this city, one that draws me to visit. Thank you for sharing this.
Thank you so much for posting this link on Heidelberg. My husband was stationed near Heidelberg for 2 1/2 years from August 1968-January 1971. I was teaching at the Patrick Henry Village American School. What great memories of people, traveling and the wonderful city. My students went on field trips to the Heidelberg Castle! We have been back many times, but it will seem different now. Danke and Auf Wiedersehen!
Jo, thanks for posting the link, loved that video. Wish I could live there. My tour of Germany back in '97 did go to Heidelberg and I'm glad it did, never could see why RS didn't like it so much - maybe too many Americans? I'm a sucker for college towns no matter where they are, they always seem to have a good 'vibe'. Guess that's why I chose to live in one.
My opinion of Heidelberg has nothing to do with the presence of US military in the area. I found the Altstadt interesting, the castle ho-hum. Your time could be better spent elsewhere. (But not in Baden-Baden). I don't think I would pan it to the extent Rick does, but, then, I would not rave about Baden-Baden, either. To each his own.
RS blasts Heidelberg for being hopelessly touristy. I venture that in any one of those video clips, in the masses of people you see walking down the streets, almost all are either full time residents or students. Could you say the same about a video clip taken on the streets of Rothenburg? I foresee these changes in a few years to the guidebooks: "Rediscovering Heidelberg" and "The Romantic Neckar Valley- the untouristy Rhine". Perhaps he can start slamming Kaiserslautern, which I would actually agree, is not a very attractive town. Thanks for the video, Jo. It's fascinating to see those old pictures. WWII gradually fades into the past, but to see pictures from that time period superimposed on places I know very well... that's something special. Particularly seeing the picture of the anti-aircraft gun emplaced in what is now a beautiful riverfront park, where I have taken my dog to play several times. Thanks.
Pretty good article in the New York Times about the closure: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/08/world/europe/storied-us-barracks-closes-with-little-fanfare.html?pagewanted=all Interesting to read appraisals of the post-9/11 changes to the installations. I was stationed in Heidelberg in '05-'08, so didn't experience it before, when I guess Germans could just walk or drive on. But plenty of people still dated locals, there were fests etc.
Tom, the way I think it works within RS business/community is this: places that were not famous and overrun by Americans, which were the largest non-European group travelling to Europe in the late 1970s/early 1980s by far and large, got a lifetime pass as quaint/interesting/fun/"real Europe" etc. It doesn't matter much what happened ever since. I don't think RS ever dropped a whole city from its guides or replaced with a "similar (sic) but much less crowded". I also don't think RS ever "rehabilitated" a city he once put on the "don't" list (Bologna, Genève, Heidelberg). Examples: Amsterdam and Rothenburg-o.b.-Tauer. Historic Amsterdam was really a nasty place in the late 1980s, especially at night - gritty, seedy and overpopulated with junkies sleeping on parks. So it made sense to recommend people to say in Haarlem and take a short train hop to Amsterdam. However, this hasn't been the case (junkies overrunning streets, seediness everywhere) for at least 15 years. On the other hand, the fall of communism and the Iron Wall brought into easy reach a lot of Fachwerk-full cities, like Weningerode and other Harz villages, that are now beautifully restored, accessible by train from Berlin, Köln or Frankfurt with ease, and have a fraction of the masses of Rothenburg. So, in a way, for the good and for the bad, I think RS is very consistent over time and will not change easily his list of recommended places easily, nor will he change destinations of his best-selling tours and guidebooks...
I would love to have Rick add Heidelberg to his books. I lived there from 1973-1977 while my dad worked for the defense department. I love Heidelberg but since I left at the age of 14 I think having Rick's input on the city would be helpful. I have been back several times with my family and have enjoyed it but I am bias because I love Germany in general so much.
Thanks for the video, Jo. Heidelberg is woven all through my life tapestry. It will be interesting to visit and see how it feels without the military there.
Ssshhh! There's barely a single trinket shop in that beautiful old town. Once Quedlinburg gets the Blue Book treatment, the cat's out of the bag...
Rick's Guide is a limited offering as part of its business model. He offers fewer choices with greater details. I prefer other guides but where Rick goes, he covers it well. The guide's omissions are many and significant. I was stationed in Germany for 6 years and visited Heidelberg many times as it was the location of the medical headquarters. It is a very nice city. Heidelberg is not to my taste the biggest omission from the book. Of the missing places that I visited and liked better are Regensburg and Goslar. I am sure there are others that some of would you choose others. How can Rick's omission be linked to the US Military when two other cities/areas included - Würzburg and Nürnberg - had a similar US presence? I was stationed in both and the military was a substantial part of those communities.
Yes, yes, we know the Blue Books, due to their style, have to make editorial choices on what to include and what to leave out. It would have been one thing simply not to mention Heidelberg (and Wiesbaden), as he chooses to do with Garmisch-Partenkirchen, another well-known tourist destination with a long term US military presence. But it's another thing entirely to specifically tell people to avoid these cities and to use criterea that one could much easier apply to most of the tourist funhouses that he does gush over. It makes us a little suspicious of the man's motives. Does he really think that Heidelberg is too "commercial", or as an author will well established left-of-center political leanings, was he just embarrassed by the NATO military community in the city? Only the man himself can honestly answer that question, but if a vibrant university town like Heidelberg is too "commerical", then he should also have dumped Rothenburg, Bacharach and Baden-Baden ages ago.
While I enjoy the majority of Rick's advice and take it all with a grain of salt, I really do have a problem with the arrogant attitude, no matter who it comes from, to tell people "don't bother... I didn't like it and neither will you" I have seen that comment from any number of posters here and each time I would like to respond that their comment is a useless opinion. For the record, I love Heidelberg and frankly hope it stays just as it is. I have been there about 5 times and the last thing I want is even more tourists coming there:))
For those seriously interested in traveling all over Germany, from west to east, north to south, plus everything in between, I absolutely recommend Heidelberg, at least, once for 2-3 days. It makes no difference what RS has to say about Heidelberg.
If you disagree with Rick's opinion of Heidelberg, you might find Mark Twain's opinion more to your liking. Check out the Heidelberg section in "A Tramp Abroad." I knew he lived there for a while but did not know about this book until I started looking for Twain's comments about Heidelberg. It is out of copyright and online at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/119/119-h/119-h.htm#p029 Maybe Rick should read that before he revisits Heidelberg.
Roy, thanks for posting that link. While my hometown in the US has changed almost beyond recognition (for the worse) in my short lifetime, much of Twain's physical description of Heidelberg still holds true today. There's obviously more modern buildings now, but that basic description of the view from the top of the mountain, out towards the Rhine-Neckar plain, is still much as he describes it. And he doesn't call it by name, but those woods he details walking through are the Odenwald. I get much of the same ethereal feeling everytime I hike through that region (which my dog and I do most weekends when the weather permits).