Sunday, October 9, 2011
Pathway to Fun
The Old Bridge is a beautiful sight to behold with its numerous arches, twin white towers and elegant statues thus it is one of the most visited attractions in Heidelberg. Erin and I trod upon this German national treasure many times either while strolling along without a care or en route to a favorite destination on the other side of the river. Living a mere 15 minutes away provided us with the opportunity to visit this grand city whenever the mood struck and it usually did as the weather cooled and the hordes of tourists on buses thinned out. Before beginning our journey upwards we usually explored the narrow streets, parks, and squares of the city center where Erin greeted the locals, visitors, and fellow canines with a wag of the tail and much to her delight we always stopped to munch on tasty food from kiosks or one of many dog-friendly cafes.
On the northern bank of the river we begin our ascent to a magical place that has inspired countless philosophers, musicians, poets, and university professors for hundreds of years hence the name Philosophenweg or Philosophers Way. The cobblestone pathway is quite narrow in places while the green-tinted high walls gives the feel that one is navigating through an ancient maze designed for Heidelberg's intellectual elite. My legs burned as I made my way up the steep incline but any discomfort was well worth it for what laid ahead. Erin tugged at the leather leash in an effort to get me to pick up the pace; she would have gladly sprinted uphill to explore on her own but much to her chagrin she remained tethered for her own safety. Steadily we marched upwards towards our goal unless folks moving at a slower pace impeded our progress or someone wanted to lavish attention upon Erin then we became the ones who created a logjam for everyone else.
Reaching Philosophers Way it's easy to see why this beautiful serene location has provided inspiration to centuries of thinking men; high above the Neckar River the site provides amazing views of the old town and a river valley that stretches seemingly forever. It's difficult to not be affected in a positive way; there's no sense of urgency, no modern world influences just a deep connection to God, nature, and whatever else one holds sacred. There are many benches to relax upon thus we usually plopped down for awhile after the trek uphill; an endless sea of red roofs, a massive church that dominates the skyline and an imposing castle that looms over the city beckon for attention. Barges loaded with cargo plying the river, sculling crews practicing their sport, and boats of leisure cruising by were of interest and provided a much welcome distraction from the daily grind. My worries and stress were certainly shed upon visiting this revered place; given the chance I would've relaxed upon a bench for hours on end but ensuring Erin had a great time took priority as always.
While I embraced the moment Erin laid near my feet ready for something more stimulating to a dog thus she stared me down in an effort to make me feel guilty and it worked as usual. "Go see good girl"... She doesn't have to be told twice thus she springs into action and races further ahead on the winding pathway oblivious to the lovely scenery around her. Following her active nose she moves briskly with head slightly above the ground then suddenly stops to inhale the most wonderful of scents before continuing onward. Trails jutting off the main pathway are perfect for doggie exploration and Erin finds suitable furry critters to pursue from tree to tree until exhaustion gets the best of her then she plops down for a breather. Joining her on the ground we sit together in silence surrounded by a wall of trees; not a sound is heard except for sporadic chirping of birds in the trees above and it feels very surreal to find peace and bliss when society lies so close.
The pathway winds its way uphill like a snake slithering where around every corner lies another pleasant surprise; when it appears that all is seen another piece of natures puzzle is revealed. Views of magnificent homes perched hillside, manicured gardens and plots of land littered with gnomes are on display for those who venture further ahead and we certainly did our fair share of venturing. Exotic flowers, shrubs, and trees made the perfect canine playground while I took advantage of our surroundings to initiate hide-and-seek, a game we both enjoyed and played in many many countries. My fur angel always had a great time on Philosophers Way as there was plenty to explore, wildlife to stalk, and admirers willing to pay attention to her in addition to the quality time spent together. I have many fond memories of those outings in the hills above Heidelberg but Erin smiling beside me remains the most cherished. RIP Erin!!!