National Geographic : 1962 Jun
( NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICSOCIETY Steins clink a toast to Heidelberg in one of the famous students' rathskellers. Walls smothered with signs, photographs, rapiers, fencing pads, and helmets keep alive the lighthearted but strenuous past of a city famed for music, romance, and dueling. Students of Heidelberg University, Germany's oldest, crowd these inns nightly. "It's late," he said. "You must be starved. Won't you join me for dinner?" We thanked him and explained that some thing had happened to our appetites. I hope he didn't see what was left in that basket. Peter the Hermit followed the Rhine and then the Neckar River to Heidelberg. We did also. Unlike most Rhineland cities, this fa mous university center was little touched by the war, but American troops stationed there since have left a definite impression. In a Barges Churn Past Cat Castle on the Stately, Storied Rhine Burg Katz, with its imposing round keep and cone-capped towers, soars above the village of St. Goarshausen and its cross-river neighbor, St. Goar. Wooded Lorelei Rock, on the distant left bank, looms 470 feet above the narrowest part of the middle Rhine. Legend tells of a golden-haired siren who sat atop the crag and lured boatmen to their doom in the bend's swift current. KODACHROMEBY THOMAS NEBBIA © N.G.S . famous beer cellar, for example, the great majority of the customers were German stu dents, but when the piano player rendered Heidelberg drinking songs, hardly a voice was raised. When he swung into "I've Been Working on the Railroad," the ancient beams shook with the lusty singing of local lads. In many rathskellers, one sits on benches at community tables. The tables are so close together people must walk on the benches, stepping over other customers, to get a seat. We found ourselves with four German stu dents and a couple of older men, one with two dueling scars on his cheek. When the students called for a Stiefel, and the waiter brought a glass boot holding about two quarts of the strong Heidelberg beer, my scarred neighbor explained the custom. "They drink from the boot in turn," he said. "The next to the last man buys the drink slightly more than a dollar. The trick, of course, is either to leave a little more in the boot than the next man can drink without stopping for breath, or to finish it yourself."