Monday, September 30, 2013

Heidelberger Herbst: what a mix of experiences!

My friend invited to me to Heidelberg for the Heidelberger Herbst Altstadtfest this past weekend. It's funny, because I had in mind what the day would be like and it was totally different -- in a weird, fun way!

Heidelberger Herbst was a wonderful conglomeration of everything! It includes a flea market in the narrow streets of downtown; live music; stores with special opening hours; food and drink booths; and lots of random events. I went into it thinking it would be more of a traditional German fall festival.

I saw these guys hanging out early on so it confirmed my initial suspicions, but I ended up being wrong in the long run. I think this was a stag party. We walked down this road and I knew things weren't going to be traditional.

And they weren't! In the square, we listened to some great techno music...and watched a group of men deep in the throes of a stag party. How do I know this was a stag party where I wasn't sure if the lederhosen clad young men were part of a similar party? Well, I think it was the fact that the guy below was dressed up like a(n ugly) women, wearing some crazy stuff, and getting danced on by his friends. There was a hula hooper and a bubble blower, too!

See? Bubbles.

Our evening didn't get any less random. We saw a guy dressed like this:

I thought that if I got some frozen yogurt things would return to normal. This place had some delicious, somewhat tart froyo:

 All was going well until I read the sign across the street:

It's one of those places where people can sell their gold. I get it: bring in your old gold, jewelry, coins, and...toothgold. TOOTHGOLD???? GOLD TEETH? What the HECK!? Even worse, the sign says "also with teeth." Egads! Who would have gold teeth laying around? My friend suggested that maybe if one were to get in a fight and his gold tooth got knocked out, he could bring it in. Wouldn't he want to keep it?

Even crazier: we saw a dude in a kilt, and it appeared that he had shaved his legs. I shave my legs when I wear a skirt, so I guess it's not that weird. Maybe everyone does?

I needed to move on; I needed to get over this alarm. We decided to visit the medieval fest; that couldn't get too weird, right?

We drank pomegranate and orange infused grappa and generally felt great about everything after that, including the medieval heavy metal music being played. That was an interesting mix.

The grappa made us decide that we really should have a cocktail, so we went to the vinegar and liqueur store (yes, they have those here; it's a bit random) and listened to watered down acoustic pop songs and drank cocktails (which were quite lovely, btw). 

That led my friend to the wonderful conclusion that we needed gummi candies in naughty shapes but without nasty dyes so we bought some gummimänner and of course giggled like crazy about them. We were ready to call it a night but the ice cream shop had a DJ in the window so we danced with the group in front of it for a while (seriously, what ice cream shop in the US has a techno-playing dj? Yinz are missing out).

All good things must come to an end. We finished our dancing and trotted home.

So, is Heidelberger Herbst your traditional German fall festival? Not on your life, but wear your lederhosen and dirndls if you'd like because believe me, you won't be the weirdest ones there. I think the festival is whatever you want to make of it and YMMV: your mileage might vary. I know that I loved the mileage I put on, cavorting through town.

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