This question probably depends upon your frame of mind or age. As an experienced barfly I always promise myself a night out on the town irregardless if life is going up or downhill.
Having a good time boils down to knowing where to meet people with good vibes. Of course it helps to know yourself but even more important it means that you convey to others that you are out for good conversation, food, fun… and laughs! If you follow rule number one (and there is only one), it is to forget your worries for a couple of hours. You owe it to yourself. With this positive attitude you can quickly spot and avoid the negative scenes and get down to partying.
If you live in the Heidelberg area the question of where to go should not be a problem as there are umpteen places catering to people out for a good time. So lets take a look at them. For the newcomers to Germany a walk through the Heidelberg AItstadt (University oldtown), starting at the Sophienstrasse and ending at the Karlstor is a delightful trip which mixes the romantic old with the trendsetting new. In fact there are over 140 eating and drinking establishments in this area. Among the most famous and popular with tourist and the local natives are traditional student “fraternity” pubs, THE RED OX, SEPPLS, and SCHNOOKELOCH. Here the atmosphere is warm, zany and happy, especially if you like to sing along to folk tunes (many in English) played tirelessly on the piano, while enjoying cold mugs of German beer and delicious homemade cooking. All ages and nationalities mix here so the conversation and jokes are never dull. Try to visit these places before 9 pm as they fill up fast.
If you’re into a nostalgic mood there are still a few student hangouts which have survived the sixties and miraculously so have their clientele. First on the list is the WEINLOCH (Wine Hole) where prices am low and the wine and cheese is superb. This dive is earthy with old wooden tables and chairs and reminds me of a Bowery Bar straight out of the pages of Eugene O’Neil. Most of the characters who frequent the Weinloch have decided to make the oldtown their home and fitting with their somewhat offbeat lifestyle, there isn’t any music played except that of many chattering voices. Other student pubs with music, food and drink are the WEISSEN BOCK -which is still decorated in Grandma’s fashion, the WORMSER and the ESSIGHAUS. All of these offer a budget menu and are not too heavy.
Before moving on to where the Yuppies and modern Andy Warhol types meet I would like to quickly drop into several more off-the-wall places. One for the thick skinned intellectual globtrotting type is the DRUGSTORE, providing you have a bent for blitz chess, French anarchy and loner paranoia. It’s solemn until everyone gets drunk between 12pm – 1am, then closing time is called when there’s barely room to move.
Caution: At times the older crowd in this place bend toward the manic depressive.
Contrasting to the above and when you want to teat a loved one, visiting relatives, friends or just enjoy old world serenity is the GOLDENE HECHT (which is located next to the Old Neckar Bridge). It’s here that Wolfgang Goethe, Germany’s world famous poet like to wine and dine because it’s cozy
and dreamy. It also hasn’t changed since thistime. The very down to earth owner, Eva Rote, speaks fleunt English and extends a welcome to all her visitors. Up the street is a comfortable neighborhood inn called me ROTER LÖWE (The Red Lion) which on occassions is quiet and offers a welcome respite when you just want to relax and chew the fat or mumble into your beer. The price here can’t be beat.
Heidelberg also has a fast thriving cafe society which is young, chic and very in. THE BISTRO (also located near the Old Neckar Bridge) hosts the beautiful people. Everyone there seems to be into the arts but I don’t recommend showing up as a starving artist. This is a good place for singles and couples who want to be seen. If you should by chance be on the make, then make sure your act is together as the competition is stiff. Wear the wrong kind of glasses and you’re out Alternatives to ‘The Bistro’ are the cafes, LA VILLA, JOURNAL and SCHÖNECK! The young waitresses in these oasis are all lovely and perhaps the reason why Heidelberg has such a famous heart clinic.
Well it’s time for me to end this short gig on the Heidelberg night scene and I feel guilty as there is so much more to tell, but I’m thirsty for a beer and I want to catch a cab for the INTERCITY PUB at the Heidelberg Bahnhof (which stays open till 6am!), so that I have time to reminisce about nights past when the beatniks gathered in THE CAVE (now a disco) and fell in love every night while listening to live jazz.