This afternoon we took a train from downtown Frankfurt to the small town of Heppenheim to visit with Johannes, a student who studied at San Diego State University in 2010. Just a few weeks ago (8/27/2022) Johannes got married to his long-time girlfriend, Vanessa at the Heppenheim Town Hall.
Heppenheim is located less than an hour south of Frankfurt by train and has a population of around 25,000 people. The town, situated on a small hill, is filled with beautiful timber-frame houses painted in bright contrasting colors so that the timber frames stand out. Up on Schlossberg mountain overlooking the town is the Starkenburg Castle.
We spent several hours meandering the winding cobblestone streets exploring the medieval buildings and the beautiful St. Peters Church at the top of the hill. We stopped at Granny Margaret’s Wine and Coffee Bar for a rest and enjoyed delicious afternoon cakes with coffee. Kent tried a chocolate cake with strawberry topping, while Mark had a creamy lemon tart; both were delicious. Germans called them cakes but they were made in a pie pan with a crust and we would probably call them a pie rather than a cake.
We then proceeded to a beautiful residential neighborhood not far from the historic town center to Johannes and Vanessa’s home for the last two years since moving from Frankfurt. They rent the upstairs apartment in a historic 100-year-old stone house. We caught up on each other’s lives since we last saw each other in 2018, in Frankfurt, before dinner. Unfortunately, Vanessa had a weekly Spanish class to attend so she was unable to join us for dinner.
For dinner, we headed back to the main marketplace in the heart of the old city to a very local German restaurant called The Swan Hessian Cultural Restaurant. Hessian refers to the region of Germany that we were in and the food they served is locally sourced. The interior of the restaurant was very traditional with beamed ceilings, half-timber style walls and wooden tables. There we enjoyed a local cheese with dark German bread, pickled onions and a shaker of herbs like cumin. Kent and Johannes had the local sausages with sauerkraut and dark bread. Mark tried a locally grown pork from the ribs of the pig similar to a very thick pork chop although with the flavor and texture of a ham. Everything was delicious.
After dinner we took the local train back into Frankfurt. The trains we traveled on were very quiet, new looking and very well maintained. Each car had a bathroom on it, the seats were comfortably upholstered and the signage was completely automated on easy to read monitors.