Well, it seems like old news now, but Trae and I spent several days traveling through the western and northerly parts of Germany, celebrating Christmas in the lovely old town of Heidelberg. We're currently in Sweden (I'm writing this on a train to Stockholm.) (Yes, Swedish trains have free internet.), but I wanted to share some bits of the journey I haven't posted about yet.
Heidelberg was a great place to spend Christmas for many reasons, one of them being that there were beautiful places to walk around the old town when many other cultural sights were closed. The town itself shares a narrow valley with the Neckar River. Trae and I spent a chilly day walking up and around one side of the valley, through beautiful forests, stopping at stone monuments and old church ruins.
Near the top of the hill, there is a large amphitheater called the Thingstätte, built by Heidelberg University (Germany's oldest university) students in 1935 and used for Nazi and SS rallies. It's chilling to think what was said and done there, and even more so because it's actually a beautiful spot. Parts of the amphitheater walls are burnt and you can see where images were rubbed off of doors. But there are no traces of Nazi symbolism anymore, just neat rows of stones that the forest is slowly reclaiming.
Another part of Heidelberg we loved was the old town itself. Trae and I stayed in a beautiful old hotel near the river, which housed an excellent restaurant and a brewery.
On Christmas Day, we stepped inside one of the huge cathedrals and listened to the Christmas service in German.
The best part about the church, though, was probably their nativity scene, which had Nelson Mandella in the middle, surrounded by drag queens, tightrope walkers, and protestors with signs demanding "Amnesty für Snowden!" Joseph was holding a pig and looked genuinely distraught, while Mary was off to one side with the baby on her shoulder.
Overall, it was a nice three days and a great spot to spend Christmas!