Boy sends card to grandad in heaven, and gets reply

A 5-year-old boy couldn’t get over the death of his grandfather, so attached a card to a helium balloon. His parents were surprised to find a box in the post shortly after.

Boy sends card to grandad in heaven, and gets reply
File Photo: DPA

Manuela T. couldn’t believe her eyes when a package arrived in the post addressed to her young son last Friday, the Rheinische Post (RP) reports.

A few days earlier, the boy from Rhineland-Palatinate had attached a card addressed to his grandfather to a helium balloon and let it fly up into the sky.

In the letter, Phil asked his Opa how he was doing up in heaven and told him that he hoped everyone up there was being nice to him.

“He was always talking about his grandfather and couldn’t get over his death,” Manuela told the newspaper.

The family had expected that to be the last of it, but then the package arrived. When Phil opened it, he found a letter and a teddy bear inside.

“Dear Phil, your balloon flew so high that it reached me in heaven. With luck I was able to catch it,” the letter read.

“I’m giving you this bear to comfort you when you’re sad. Don’t worry about me, I’m doing well even though I miss you a lot. Love, Opa.”

Manuela told RP that, when she read the letter to him, he broke out in tears.

“He was so happy,” she said, adding that “he doesn’t talk about it anymore, but he takes the teddy bear with him everywhere.”

Manuela is now trying to track down the sender. But finding them could prove tricky as there was no return address. The only clue was the post office stamp. Alas, it was not marked with an address in the clouds, but one from the neighbouring state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

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Germany’s Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’

Germany's Scheffelbrücke might not seem like much to look at, but by some accounts it is the most expensive bridge in the world. Here’s what you need to know.

Germany's Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’
The Scheffelbrücke in Baden-Württemburg isn't known for its astounding beauty or engineering prowess - but it is known for its price tag. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

If you’re travelling near the Swiss border, you might come across the Scheffelbrücke – a quiet, two-lane bridge over the Radolfzeller Aach in Baden-Württemburg. 

By bridge standards, the 20-metre concrete construction seems relatively unremarkable – until you take a look at the engraved sign on the side which quotes the price tag. 

A sign on the bridge references the incredible price of the bridge: 1,520,940,901,926,024 Deutschmarks. 

That’s 1,500 trillion marks. 

Why is the Scheffelbrücke Germany’s most expensive bridge – and why is it so drab?

While Germany has the money and the landscape to have some expensive bridges, that over the Aach hardly rivals the Golden Gate, London Bridge or Sydney Harbour for elegance or ingenuity. 

The bridge, completed in 1923, takes the name of Joseph Victor von Scheffel, a German writer who will forever be associated with the glorified concrete slab. 

While one might suspect pork barrelling or crafty accounting as a reason for the astonishing cost – or perhaps a trick to reel in the tourists to the otherwise unassuming village of Singen – the cost is in fact real.

The high price is a consequence of the out of control post-World War One inflation which hit Germany, where money almost completely lost its value. 

A sign for the bridge reveals its extortionate building costs. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

Local authorities, wanting to boost the economy, signed off on the bridge as an infrastructure project. 

As a consequence, some local workers presumably became millionaires as a consequence – although there was perhaps little meaning to the idea of being a millionaire when a billion would only buy you a concrete bridge. 

Fortunately, Germany was able to bring inflation under control and wheelbarrows full of money were no longer required to purchase basic things.

And almost a century later, when not taking wacky inflation into account, Germany’s ‘most expensive bridge in the world’ no longer has that title. 

That goes to the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco (no, not the Golden Gate but the other one), which cost 6.3 billion US dollars – or roughly 5.2 billion euro  – to build. 

The Oakland Bay Bridge however goes for eight kilometres and possesses some of the aesthetic qualities which one would expect from the most expensive bridge in the world.