Smith Mountain Lake Mystery Writer

Contemplations from a quiet cove on Smith Mountain Lake.

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Location: United States

I'm a Southern gal who loves life, my husband and our family (which, to date, includes 13 grandchildren). I enjoy being with friends and family. But I also like being alone and thinking up plots for future books. I've published two novels, both mysteries, and I'm working on my third. For more about my books, visit me at If you ever hear me say, "I'm bored," please get me to the ER immediately! Paddling my kayak and snapping pictures of the critters I see relaxes me. Beach music has the opposite effect--when I hear those old "doo-wops" I want to dance.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


We boarded a Viking bus the morning of May 4 for a shore excursion to Heidelberg, Germany. We visited Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg Cathedral, enjoyed a leisurely walking tour of the city, and still had lots of free time for more exploring. What a gorgeous and interesting place!  

Heidelberg is built along the Neckar River.

Once again the architecture enthralled me.

Our bus driver navigated the 
narrow streets easily.

The original bridge in Heidelberg--the Old Bridge (Alte Brucke)--was built around 1742. It was re-built nine times! The first was built out of wood, but because of destruction from floods and wars, Prince Karl Theodor ordered the construction of a stone bridge (1786-1788).

 A view from the Old Bridge.

Tourists on the Old Bridge.

Another view from the Old Bridge.

Picture of Heidelberg Castle from the bridge.
The earliest Heidelberg Castle was built before 1214. By circa 1294 it had expanded to two castles. Lightning destroyed the upper castle in 1537, and struck it again in 1764.  The castle ruins, which are breathtaking, remain.


Abandoned over 300 years ago, the castle still holds the world's largest wine barrel, a 250-year-old vat that could hold 50,000 gallons of wine.

 Ron standing in front of the old vat.

Even though dark clouds looked threatening, it didn't rain. The views from the castle were incredible.


 More castle ruins.

After exploring the castle, we meandered on into the center of the city.

Gorgeous Heidelberg Cathedral. 

A lovely old Gothic building which 
is now a hotel and restaurant.

Hungry, we ducked into the open-air restaurant above. We sat with stomachs growling for over an hour before coming to the conclusion that we would not be waited on, even though people seated after us were served, ate, and departed with full bellies. Exasperated and hungry, we left. We're glad we did because just outside we saw shipmates Anne and Al at an outdoor table, and joined them.

Al (left) and Ron (right) with their German beers.

Look closely at the glasses of beer. Funny, but even 
though Al's is much larger than Ron's, they cost the same!

Sally, Anne and Al. Ron's snapping the photo. 
But you probably figured that.

Our last view of lovely Heidelberg as we headed 
back to our ship.

We passed many of these gorgeous yellow fields--a type of mustard plant--which is what canola oil is made from.


When we arrived at the Viking Mani, some of the crew were on deck to welcome us. Little did we know that it would be our last night on the Mani. Because of all the flooding on the River Rhine, we could no longer use the locks to go down river, which meant we'd be stuck here. Not good, because we still had lots to see.

But not to worry! Viking came to the rescue. Down river was a sister ship, an exact replica of our Mani. The next day we had all our luggage outside our rooms by 8:00. At 10:00 we boarded four Viking buses and drove two hours where we boarded the Viking Eir in Koblenz. Our room number on the Mani was 219; we were assigned to room 219 on the Eir. I tell you, Viking thinks of everything!

Join us next post for the Marksburg Castle tour.

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