Sunday, October 07, 2007

Never mind the quality....

The room we had in Köln was lovely: light and airy, with those European windows that open by leaning into the room to let in some air, or which can be opened fully as NZ windows are with a switch of the handle. Plus there was a desk, a chair, two bedside tables, bedside lamps, curtains, a rubbish bin, and a wardrobe. It had a toilet and shower en suite. Note these things.
Even better, breakfast was a buffet, with a wide range of Continental and English options. Note this too.
For this hotel we paid 130 euros for two nights. That’s on the cheaper to middle range for b&bs.
Today we arrived in Heidelberg and found our hotel. Except it wasn’t our hotel. We’re being billeted in another building five minutes walk away. We’re on the second floor, and we’re paying exactly the same amount of money as we paid in Heidelberg. The only difference is that this is classed as a hostel, not a hotel.
The only difference in terms of nomenclature, that is. The difference in quality is astonishing. Our bedroom has no curtains, no desk, no chair, no rubbish bin, no lamps, no bedside tables, no wardrobe. It does have a hat stand. And nine power points. And a slightly sloping floor. For breakfast we will receive one hot drink and a croissant. Whoopee. The toilet is shared with three other rooms on this floor, as is the bathroom - which admittedly has a bath as well as a shower, and is very large. There is also a towel in there, the only one provided on the whole floor.
Celia isn’t feeling well, having got a cold overnight, so she isn’t terribly excited about this place. Certainly it’s in the middle of the Altstadt - the Old Town - the area Heidelberg is probably most famous for, but that doesn’t quite compensate for the minimalist approach to hotel rooms.
On top of that we had a bit of fun with the train this morning. We’d booked from Köln to Heidelberg, which should have taken about three hours. The train was a bit late - an unusual occurrence in Germany, I gather - and it somehow got later as it went along. In the end, as we were heading toward Mannheim, (known only to me because of Mozart’s links with it) an announcement was made in German telling us that the train wouldn’t be stopping at Heidelberg, because it was running late!
Fortunately, the German lady in our compartment picked this up on our behalf and went in search of the guard. He told her we needed to get off at Mannheim and take the train back to Heidelberg. Seems that Heidelberg would be sidestepped completely. So we got off the train at Mannheim, found platform neun and hopped on the Heidelberg train, which was a local one with not much room and a short fat girl going round asking anyone who was eating anything if they would give it to her. Still, our faithful Eurail Pass was perfectly acceptable to the guard and we arrived at Heidelberg a bit late, but none the worse for wear.
From there we had to get a number 33 bus to the Platz just down from where the hotel was (or was supposed to be). The driver must have forgotten to take his happy pills this morning, as he seemed to be all over the show, and since both of us had our backpacks on we were struggling to keep upright.
But here we are, Celia’s asleep, I’ve walked across one bridge over the Rhein and back across another, the day is lovely, the mobile connect is working perfectly and things could be far worse!

In the photo you can see one of the bridges I walked across - and in the background is Heidelberg's castle.

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