It’s been almost one week since I arrived in Heidelberg. There is so much to say about my time here already, but I’ll get to that in a later post. Suffice it to say, Heidelberg is lovely and I’m looking forwards to starting classes next week. In the meantime, while I collect my thoughts for a more thorough summary of my initial thoughts on Heidelberg, here is a description of one of my favorite spots in the city. I had to write it for a class, but it gives a glimpse of where I’ve gone to walk, jog, eat meals, and journal.
Topic: The Use of Public Spaces in my Host Culture
This is farther west of the main part of the park – I had to stop jogging to take it because I just love the trees!
“In the one week that I have lived in Heidelberg, the place I have most often frequented is the Neckarwiese. This is a park that sits on the bank of the Neckar river and extends outward as a biking and walking trail through the whole city. The Neckar divides the city in half, which makes it almost impossible to spend an entire day in the city and not find yourself on the Neckarwiese. At the main part of the park, there is a long grassy bank, separate biking and walking paths, a fountain, picnic tables, and benches. As it extends north and south, it becomes a narrow path encased by trees with a steep grassy bank leading to the river.
“As I’ve already mentioned, the path along the river is frequently used for commuters going from A to B. It is also nearly always frequented with joggers and people walking their dogs, like any park in the US. Unlike the US, the German locals will seek out this place intentionally to spend their spare time on lunchbreaks, after work, and on the weekends. During lunchtime, there are many people spread out along the river eating their lunch and soaking up the sunshine. After work, groups of people walk along the trail and catch up on each other’s days. The most popular time to be at the park, however, is on Sundays. I’m convinced that some people get up in the morning to go for a walk and don’t come home until it’s time for dinner. In Germany, almost every store is closed on Sundays and the people go out to “be in nature.” Young and old wind up along the bank of the Neckar.
“Admittedly, it is one of the first nice weeks of weather Heidelberg has had since winter. And I’ve never lived next to a river to compare. Still, the Neckarwiese really is one of the hubs of activity in the city. From what I’ve read of German culture, this is pretty typical of German culture and their love of nature. A local German told me, “we have a saying here: There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.” I love that the locals, regardless of age or walk of life, seem to enjoy the beauty of the river and scenery around them and have made it a part of their daily routines. I have yet to see anyone along the Neckar glued to their phone, and only a
Sunset on the Neckar!
handful with their phone even in sight. It seems to me that nature provides an escape from the daily grind. This is one aspect of German culture that I can’t wait to add to my daily routine!”
And just to emphasize how much I love this spot, I choose to spent the evening of my birthday outside on the Neckar enjoying a special birthday treat!
I also ordered this using only German – though the clerk laughed at my pronunciation!