We have become accustomed to enjoying our summer family holiday in late June, before most European school students have begun summer break. This year, though, a holiday just wasn’t meant to be.

Bright and early on Saturday we departed on the first leg of our travels, a seven hour drive to Heidelberg and the approximate midpoint enroute to Brittany. We miss our Cape Cod holiday and thought France’s northwest coast would make an excellent stand-in.

The Salzburg Alps greeted us spectacularly as we headed west.


The Bavarian Alps impressed us, as well.

What did not impress us, though, was the NINE hour drive, thanks to Germany’s brilliant decision to conduct maintenance on nearly every stretch of Autobahn. So much for German efficiency.  We settled into our rental apartment easily, though with a dinner from the grocery of Bratwurst and Kartoffelsalat and called it a day.

Sunday was devoted to exploring Heidelberg, a truly charming little town and well-deserving of our stopover. The main attraction is Schloss Heidelberg, with its palace, garden, and red sandstone ruins.  In all parts of the palace, except the interior rooms, Clayton Theodore was permitted. (Germany loves dogs, too, America. Are you reading?)



The Alte Brücke crossing the Neckar River.


The gently sloped path to the ruins.






Looking over the town from a watchtower platform.





The walk down from the palace winds through fairytale-like neighborhoods.


Back down in the Marktplatz, a beer and pretzel break.


Just pretzels for CTF, though.

After lunch and a little more wandering of the AltStadt we crossed the river to walk along the Philosopher’s Walk, so named for its shady path and viewing points above the Neckar along which one could rest, and in theory, contemplate serious matters.

He’s got the “resting” part of the walk down to an art.

Views of Heidelberg from the Philosopher’s Walk.



Back down from Heiligenberg and the pathway, a little East German nostalgia! Ampelmännchen!


He rested earlier, so this was obviously his “contemplative” phase.

Following a rather savory dinner of German cuisine at a restaurant along the Haupstraße, we strolled back to the apartment to plan the next day’s drive across France which, according to three trusted highway calculators, came to 9 hours, give or take.

And so we arose early on Monday, bidding Tschuss! to Heidelberg by 0700. At 0715 we had ground to a complete halt on the autobahn, and by 0800 we had traveled a total of 20km. The GPS in the car now estimated the drive to take 11 hours, thanks to four additional construction zones and one “incident” in the 100km range alone. Who knew what other Fahrvergnügen might lie ahead.

With 960km remaining, and an already doomed schedule that would have to be repeated on the return, we turned the wagon around and returned home to a wet, cold, and gray Vienna, much like our moods.

Cie la vie.