Blogger Lux Lady planned a visit to Heidelberg … then unexpectedly stumbled into an opium den.
Ah, Heidelberg. Only about two hours from Luxembourg. I was so overdue for a visit.
Rumour had it this city has a romantic feel, with the Neckar River carving below the castle ruins. Sounded like a weekend trip to me.
Of course, the first thing I did was visit this very impressive castle. But little did I know there would be an opium den just inside the courtyard…
Okay, okay. Not exactly an opium den, but a place that describes the history of pharmacies and all sorts of medicinal uses (including opium): The Deutsche Apotheken-Museum!
I love the smell of anise, melissa, orange and lavender. So many of the pharmacies in Germany have these aromas. Many sell, of course, homeopathic remedies, including teas. I was bombarded by these smells as I entered the museum. What a hidden gem!
The museum especially focuses on the role of religion and alchemy and those connections to pharmacies. It takes you all the way from the idea that astrological signs were associated to different parts of the body to the idea of Christ as a healer (literally giving out medicine) to the science of modern Aspirin!
But the last collection was by far my favourite: the uses of herbs and other ingredients in medicine throughout the ages. For example, there was a description of Grains of Paradise (or alligator pepper!), found on the West African coast and gaining new popularity with modern chefs.
There were various plants that produce dye colours, including indigo (my favourite), ginger, which even today is considered good for curing stomach ailments remedies made of animal tusks and other animal parts.
And, just so you know I am not bluffing, there’s an opium jar at the end of the museum tour. Even then, Opium was used to help one sleep and to relieve pain.
After leaving the museum and grabbing some water, I came across a modern opium den: a store called Schoko-Dealer! Brilliant name.
The owner informed me he had over 360 types of chocolate from 25 countries! White chocolate with champagne and rose petals, and chocolate with poppy seeds. Dark chocolate with irresistible flavours like walnut/Cognac, apples/Calvados and rose petals/Grappa! Just the thing I needed to ruin the calories burned trekking to the castle!
Photo credits: All photos by Lux Lady, except Heidelberg Castle by Rusty Boxcars (Flickr).