April 2
Heidelberg, Germany

The town’s changed, as I have, in the 27 years since we were here last. Same pointy, tiled roofs and very Old Euro architecture, but it seems swamped by newer buildings, to the point of being buried. We had a fine walk (LONG — gotta get the knee back in shape) along Main St.(Hauptstrasse) to the square below the famous castle and enjoyed coffee with dozens of college kids, but couldn’t find the historic cellar bar that gave rise to Mario Lanza’s “Student Prince” songs — “Ein, zwei, drei, vier, lift your stein und TRINK your beer!”
We sank a few pints there one crazed, rainy night (he said nostalgically). We had been doing a lot of Greek dancing in L.A. and the pianist knew Zorba’s Dance, so OPA! I tried to do a soulful solo number, as the Greeks do, but several older drunk German men, loving all things Greek, had to join in. They kept kicking the wrong way and were ruining my shins. One gentleman smiled humbly while kicking away and said “We are bad, yes?” He was having too much fun to hurt his feelings as he was hurting my legs, so I said “Macht’s nichts” and we kept on careening around the floor. Maybe that’s why my knee is shot right now.
This while a soldier from Redondo Beach joined us (from Manhattan Beach at the time) and chug-a-lugged beer from a glass shaped like a woman’s boot. It must have held a liter of suds.
Meanwhile an ol’ boy from Kansas told us about “bombing the shit outa Germany” but saving Heidelberg because the Krauts agreed to blow up the bridge over the Neckar River.
Bombs, getting bombed, getting wrecked to Zorba’s dance. . . it all started to make sense, so we thought it wise to go to our hotel room.
Heidelberg’s a lovely place in the Old Town. A good place to rest up and head for points south.

BTW, a Greek waiter in those days told me when I asked about the word “Opa,” “It means nothing. It is merely an expression of exuberance.”
Huh? Where’d he get that?

On to Italy . . .