I have taken to walking to and from the train station whenever possible. With possible being defined as something other than pouring rain or so much luggage that my arms would hurt. According to Google Maps the distance is somewhere between 2.3-2.6 km (depending on a detour through the Cemetery) and a hike along a foot path.
When we first moved to this area of Heidelberg I never thought twice about walking this particular way, no matter the time or weather. Sometime in the last few years, that has changed.
I can’t say that there are trolls under the bridges that I walk by, that is a bit too simplistic and it implies something about people that I am not sure is true. My route takes me along a decent size street, across several intersections then parallel a four lane divided road. There are entrance ramps on the left side as I walk toward the train station. These ramps essentially form bridges. Rather than leave the pedestrians and bicyclists competing with heavy traffic, the well paved alternative veers under the bridges.
I counted four mattresses in the first section today and two in the second. Last winter there were literally more than a dozen people living there. On Monday, there was only one guy complete with sleeping bag, cart and bicycle sound asleep up against one of the pillars. Today, there were just sleeping bags and a small bit of trash.
I think that the both the Bahnhof mission (dedicated to helping the homeless, preferably the alcoholics) and the Politzei clear the place out regularly. Certainly there were no large piles of trash or horrible smells, just the sad detritus of those with no where else to go. Heidelberg doesn’t seem to have large numbers of homeless even though there seems to be a serious number of beggars on the Hauptstrasse on tourist days.
It certainly bears more thought than dealing with what turned out to be a ride on the Austrian Klangenfurt to Frankfurt run that came in late, was delayed by more problems and arrived in Heidelberg a considerable time after what had been planned.