Here’s an interesting Rizal story you don’t hear everyday.
When my former company asked me to go to Germany, I was told that I’m staying in Walldorf. Too bad I said, I wish it was Heidelberg (also in the southwestern part). Jose Rizal studied and lived here.
Heidelberg is about 20 to 30 minutes ride to Walldorf. There’s no train station that connects the two. Most employees avoid getting booked far from the headquarter. I had to rent a van for my daily commute to work.
That night I started reading Rizal’s diary entries about Germany. I had to brush up on my history. I made a list of places to visit. I thought that I had to spare a day to see Heidelberg.
I read for hours, like a mad man. Even read his poem, “a las flores de heidelberg”, for the first time!
I slept that night reading this poem.
Two days later, the travel agency called. There were no hotels available in Walldorf. The agent sounded apologetic. She said the nearest they could get is Heidelberg!
This got me really excited but I pretended to be hassled by the whole thing.
I must’ve dreamt staying in Heidelberg to reality.
There’s another coincidence I thought was interesting.
The hotel (NH) they booked, rarely used by our employees is actually Spanish owned. However, I was disappointed to discover that they don’t serve Spanish cuisine. Yes, no paella.
The day I arrived, I quickly unpacked and went to the lobby to get WIFI. I can’t connect and it was getting dark outside. I decided to just go out. I went back after about an hour. It was too cold. I only had a shirt on and a windbreaker—I was terribly underdressed!
The next morning I decided to look for a bakery. I wanted something local for breakfast.
From the hotel drop off area, I crossed to get to the other side. I remember the street was partly elevated right in the middle. There’s a tram track. It was a busy street.
While walking something caught my eye. A dark marble marker with a familiar seal, like that of Manila, on a building wall.
The address: 20 Bergheimer Straße.
The clinic where Rizal studied opthalmology!
What were the odds?
The hotel was in the same street and less than a mile from where Rizal learned to fix eyes!
I checked Trivago and looked up hotels in Heidelberg. It came up with around 130!
I conclude that Rizal liked it when I started reading lines from his “”a las flores de heidelberg” that night. He pulled some strings from up above. For sure.
Happy 156th birthday Tio Pepe!