On my first full day in Heidelberg, I tackled the Philosophenweg. It’s on the other side of the Neckar River and winds up a hill to a street which gives you a beautiful view of Heidelberg. Many a romantic philosopher has taken that route, and now many a tourist follows in their steps. Peter set me the challenge of coming up with some bullshit philosophy while I was there, preferably drunk.
Well, drunk I couldn’t do: I was still struggling with the time change, and if I passed out on one of the benches, well, I’d probably get to enjoy Germany’s fabulous social services system, but it’d carry the risk of also showing up on one of their many TV shows showing a social worker in action. No, I’d rather struggle through sober.
Next to the bridge that takes you directly to the Philosophenweg, there’s a fugly monkey statue:
It’s really only noticeable because my Lonely Planet guidebook had noted it as one of Heidelberg’s highlights. According to the book, you’re supposed to touch the monkey: the coin for wealth, the fingers to promise to return to Heidelberg. I was dubious about that bit of information in the first place. When I’d lived near Heidelberg, no one ever said anything about a lucky monkey, and since I’d gotten there, nary a one of the German-language Heidelberg guides I’d picked up said anything about the monkey either. Looking at that monkey, I could only suspect that the Lonely Planet guidebook writer (who wasn’t German either) had also managed to inadvertently piss off the girl at the Heidelberg tourist office, and she’d gotten back by telling him to go touch the monkey, just as Dieter would have.
And now it was fenced off. The city of Heidelberg was probably puzzled as to why English-speaking tourists were coming up and insisting on touching the ugliest thing in town. I passed it by, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The Philosophenweg is a steep climb with mossy walls
some of them graffiti’d. There are three balcony-like stopping points, where you can enjoy the view, make out with your honey, (or if you’re doing it drunk) throw up in the handy trash can. It was a misty day, but I still had a gorgeous view of the castle in the haze:
And when I got to the top, the city, the river and bridges were pretty to see too:
But most importantly, I realized how very important it was to know not to touch the monkey. It’s useful advice, not just in Heidelberg, but in a variety of important, possibly life-changing situations. When you’re at the zoo, don’t touch the monkey. When you’re in a museum, don’t touch the monkey. When you’re at an important dipolomatic dinner, don’t touch the monkey:
Don’t touch the monkey. Don’t touch the monkey. Don’t touch the monkey.
Really, don’t touch the monkey:
It’ll only lead to no good.