From Heidelberg Castle to Helsinki

Worldcon has kept me very busy, so this post is a couple of days late. Wednesday was Heidelberg Castle. We stayed in town the night before and the 28 of us fit into 7 taxis to get to the base of the furnicular that takes people up the hill. The castle is at the first stop, so my vertigo never had to endure a long trip over empty space.

Unlike the others, Heidelberg Castle is in ruins. For the post part I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, since there was too much detail to remember.

We took a group picture in what used to be a huge circular tower with a ballroom floor in the centre; now it’s just a small arc of what used to be there.

The former bell tower, where a huge fire started when it was hit by lightning.

A view of the town.

I did remember a few interesting details. The place was destroyed three times. It was the seat of the Palatine princes, who had one of the seven votes for electing the Holy Roman Emperor. One of the destructions happened when one of the princes was invited to become king of Bohemia, which gave him two votes — which made him a threat to some of his neighbours and started the Thirty Years War.

Afterwards our bus took us to the Frankfurt airport, where we had a 4 hour wait until our Finnair flight to Helsinki. The baggage drop-off wasn’t going to open for two hours, so several of us found a bar and chatted to pass the time (I had a sprite and some water). Security was a little tighter than in some of the other airports on this trip but there seemed to have been a bit of randomness; only one of us had to have his shoes x-rayed.

The 2 hr 20 minute flight was uneventful. In Helsinki we took a Finnair bus that dropped people off at major bus stations, including one about 200 metres from my hotel. Let’s hear it for city navigation apps! The other writer at the same hotel used Google Maps, but I didn’t sign up for a data plan; I had an offline mapping app but didn’t need to use it.

My hotel room at the Holiday Inn Exposition and Conference Centre. My noise sensitivity and consequent need to retreat from crowds constituted enough of a disability to get me a room in the conference hotel; most of the others are scattered across several hotels closer to the city centre.

The next couple of blogs will be about events I attended at Worldcon yesterday and today.

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