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Tradition With a Kiss: Heidelberg, Germany Makes for an Idyllic Valentine's Retreat

Featured Post by Magellan's Travel Contributor & Travel Photojournalist, Ron Stern a.k.a. The Global Gumshoe.

Photo Courtesy Ron Stern Photo Courtesy Ron Stern

Located due south of Frankfurt, Heidelberg can best be described as a blend of the old and modern as both are integrated into the town’s infrastructure. Pedestrian paths with cobblestone streets line the main shopping areas with church steeples and a towering city gate majestically guarding the entrance to the town.

Photo Courtesy Ron Stern Photo Courtesy Ron Stern

The 12th Century Heidelberg Castle is perched on a hill above the city and is a great place to get a bird’s eye view of the entire town. The castle was destroyed in earlier days but the ruins are well preserved, and colorfully lit for the holidays. A short funicular ride will get you there in short order where you can stroll the grounds and view the world’s largest wine cask, which was apparently enough to keep 5,000 guests and castle dwellers in shall we say, “good spirits?”

Student Kiss Shop in Heidelberg, Germany Student Kiss Shop in Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg is also known as a romantic city. Tucked away on one of the side streets at Haspelgasse 16 is a tiny shop called the Café Knösel. Still in operation after generations, they sell a wonderful, chocolaty cookie item called a “student kiss.” Students would purchase these for the objects of their affection back in the day with hope for future romance. Today, this shop does a huge business so, of course, I had to find a bit more room in the luggage.

Photo Courtesy Ron Stern Photo Courtesy Ron Stern

Other sights that should be on your must-see list include the Old Bridge that spans the Neckar River and was built by Prince-Elector Carol Theodor in the late 1700’s.  And don’t miss the Student Prison. Yes, you heard right. In use between 1778 and 1914, any minor infraction would land students of the Ruprecht-Karls University in what amounts to modified detention for a few days---at their convenience, of course. Today, you can tour the jail, of sorts, and view the artwork created by the “guests” that adorn the walls and ceilings.

Whether you are planning a quick Valentine’s Day retreat, or an elaborate escape to a romantic locale, this location offers all the ambiance and spice required for an idyllic jaunt.

Photo Courtesy Ron Stern Photo Courtesy Ron Stern

Ron Stern is Editor-in-Chief of (, an online, travel-oriented e-zine. He is the travel columnist for the San Diego Community Newspaper Group and 50 Plus Marketplace News.  His articles have appeared in national and regional magazines such as Shape, Cruise, Frequent Flyer, AAA Motorist, Visit Los Cabos Guide, Destinations West, Key Biscayne and La Jolla Today. His other articles have been published in newspapers (print and online) such as The Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sun Sentinel, Bismarck Tribune, The Jamaican Observer, the Coloradoan and travel trade magazines. Ron’s contributions have been noted by PBS, Mobil Travel Guides and his photography is used extensively by entities such as tourism boards and public relations firms. He has traveled to 15 countries and is the author of five books.

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