National Geographic : 1955 Jul
Heidelberg Castle, Tucked in the Hills, + Guards the Placid Neckar River Rich in beauty and historical lore, Heidelberg boasts Germany's oldest university. Partially restored ruins of the red sandstone castle, built during the German Renaissance, dominate the city. Students in row boats and kayaks glide down the Neckar, emerging from these gently rolling Oden Wald hills into the Rhine plain. Peter Klinz surveys the scene from Old Bridge. "My German is getting much better, but my 'father' keeps a German-English diction ary handy in case." Doris referred to members of the family as she would her own. It seemed a wonder ful relationship. Money Bag Brings an Introduction Back at the Cologne hostel I saw a pretty brunette untying a bicycle saddlebag. I rec ognized the American Youth Hostel money bag hanging from her belt. "Howdy," I said. "It's good to see such a cute American so far from home." She turned around, a little surprised. "Well, hello to you too." "Traveling alone?" I asked. "Oh, no. There are eight of us-all Senior Girl Scouts from Sacramento. Here's Anna belle, our leader." A slim, black-haired girl returned my greet ing. "What direction are you biking?" I asked. "Up the Rhine and then into Switzerland." "Wonderful! Just what I plan to do. Mind if I join you?" "Not at all. We'd love to have you." We arranged to meet the next day at Cologne Cathedral. I arrived on time, but the girls weren't there. An impressive service was in progress. Priests carried candles, nuns knelt row on row, and other beautifully garbed priests served at the altar. Hundreds of townspeople stood on the ancient stone floor chanting prayers. It was a ceremony full of pageantry right out of the medieval period. The girls were not to be found, so after waiting an hour I set off along the Rhine toward Bad Godesberg. Just outside the city I was suddenly engulfed by eight bicycles occupied by eight sparkling young ladies in green slacks and blouses. The Girl Scouts had arrived. Annabelle explained, "We were delayed packing. We've been pedaling like all get out trying to catch up to you." I was introduced to all the girls-the be- ginning of a very pleasant relationship. We cycled together to Bad Godesberg, where we spent the night before embarking for Koblenz on the Rhine steamer (page 130). Vineyards covered the river banks, castles crowned the towering crags, and around us German holi dayers sang lustily. Debate on Anglo-American Affairs We talked to an Englishman who was lead ing a group of young boys on a tour of Ger many. He began to compare England and the United States, and in a few minutes had precipitated a lively and educational discus sion involving his group and mine. With the help of the eight girls, I defended our culture. It ended on the friendliest terms.