I spent most of this past week in Germany with the OpenStack Infrastructure and QA teams doing a sprint at the SAP offices in Walldorf, I wrote about it here.
The last (and first!) time I was in Germany was for the same purpose, a sprint, that time in Darmstadt where I snuck in a tiny amount of touristing but due troubles with my gallbladder, I could have any fried foods or beer. Well, I had one beer to celebrate Germany winning the World Cup, but I regretted it big time.
This time was different, finally I could have liters of German beer! And I did. The first night there I even had some wiener schnitzel (fried veal!), even if we were all too tired from our travels to leave the hotel that night. We went out to beer gardens every other night after that, taking in the beautiful late summer weather and enjoying great beers.
Photo in the center by Chris Hoge (source)
But I have a confession to make: I don’t like pilsners and that makes Belgium my favorite beer country in Europe. Still, Germany has quite the title. Fortunately while they are the default, pilsners were not my only option. I indulged in dark lagers and hefeweizens all week. Our evening in Heidelberg I also had an excellent Octoberfest Märzen by Heidelberger, which was probably my favorite beer of the whole trip.
Now I’m getting ahead of myself because I was excited about all the beer. I arrived on Sunday, sadly much later than I had intended. My original flights had been rescheduled so ended up meeting my colleague Clark at the Frankfurt airport around 4PM to catch our trains to Walldorf. The train station is right there in the airport, and clear signs meant a no fuss transfer halfway through our journey to get to the next train. We were on the trains for about an hour before arriving at Wiesloch-Walldorf station. A ten Euro cab ride then got us to the hotel where we met up with several other colleagues for drinks.
Of course we were there to work, so that’s what we spend 9-5 each day doing, but the evenings were ours to explore our little corner of Germany. The first night we just walked into Walldorf after work and enjoyed drinks and food until the sun went down. Walldorf is a very cute little town and the outdoor seating at the beer garden we went to was a wonderful treat, especially since the weather was so warm and clear. We spent Wednesday night in Walldorf too.
More photos from Walldorf here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157670828593814/
Tuesday night was our big night out. We all headed out to the nearby Heidelberg for a big group dinner. After parking, we had a lovely short walk to the restaurant which took me by a shop that sold post cards! I picked up a trio of cards for my mother and sisters, as I typically do when traveling. The walk also gave a couple of us time to take pictures of the city before the sun went down.
Dinner was at Zum Weissen Schwanen (The White Swan). That was my four beer night.
After the meal several of us took a nice walk around the city a bit more. We got to look up and see the massive, lit up, Heidelberg Castle. It’s a pretty exceptional place, I’d love to properly visit some time. The post cards I sent to family all included the castle.
The drive back to the hotel was fun too. I got a tiny taste of the German autobahn as we got up to 220 kilometers per hour on our way back to the hotel before our exit came up. Woo!
My pile of Heidelberg photos are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157674174957385
Thursday morning was my big morning of trains. I flew into Frankfurt like everyone else, but I flew home out of Dusseldorf because it was several hundred dollars cheaper. The problem is Walldorf and Dusseldorf aren’t exactly close, but I could spend a couple hours on European ICE (Inter-City Express) and get there. MJ highly recommended I try it out since I like trains, and with the simplicity of routing he convinced me to take a route from Mannheim all the way to Dusseldorf Airport with one simple connection, which just required walking across the platform.
I’m super thankful he convinced me to take the trains. The ticket wasn’t very expensive and I really do like trains. In addition to being reasonably priced, they’re fast, on time and all the signs were great so I didn’t feel worried about getting lost or ending up in the wrong place. The signs even report where each coach will show up on the platform so I had no trouble figuring out where to stand to get to my assigned seat.
I took a few more pictures while on my train adventure, here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157670930346613
And so I spent a couple hours on my way to Dusseldorf. I was a bit tired since my first train left the station at 7:36AM, so I mostly just listened to music and stared out the window. My flight out of Dusseldorf was uneventful, and was a direct to San Francisco so I was able to come home to my kitties in the early evening. Unfortunately MJ had left home the day before, so I’ll have to wait until we’re both in Philadelphia next week to see him.