Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Black Forest

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While we don't have Memorial Day here, we did have (another) May holiday coincide with it so we had a long weekend to take advantage of as well.  We decided to do a trip to the Schwarzwald, or Black Forest--maybe you know their cake?


Friday night we took a train to Karlsruhe and spent the night.  In the morning, we picked up a car through the car-sharing program we joined and set out.  (This was my husband's first long trip with a manual--we're quite adventurous, huh?)  We drove to a great castle through beautiful countryside.  There was a beirgarten at the foot of the mountain so we had a nice lunch before our trek up.  We decided not to pay to go in and just enjoyed the scenery and nature.  This area is a bit like driving through the NC mountains on the Blue Ridge Parkway so we took a route that would be scenic and arrived in Triberg, the cuckoo clock capital.  We hiked up a hill beside a waterfall, looked in some shops at more cuckoo clocks than you ever seen, had a slice on Black Forest cake (did not enjoy this one--far too much liquor) and then drove on.  We knew of a hiking trail pretty far out (think one lane roads through farms) so we drove out to it and enjoyed a nice trail through the woods with a good view down the mountainside.  It was pretty late at this point so our search for dinner proved fruitless.  We gave up and just headed for our hotel in Freiburg.  Lucky for us, the owner of the family-run hotel and restaurant was super-friendly and an American football enthusiast.  He made us a late dinner of Black Forest Ham and chatted for quite a while about American football teams and players.

The ride
After a full German breakfast the next morning, we took another scenic route and stopped for hiking trail.  The trail took us up to a lookout tower that we climbed.  It wasn't a warm day yet and the wind was quite brutal that high up, but it was a very nice view.  Continuing our drive, we found a little fun park with another one of those luge rides like we went on in Bavaria, but this was much better and longer.Then we headed into the small town of Freiburg and walked around looking at shops and the Münster church which was quite nice.  There were nice trails up a steep hill that overlooked the city so we picnicked and then headed up to enjoy the view.  Walking back through town we decided to try Black Forest cake again and we were glad we did.  This piece was far less soaked  and was quite good.  On recommendation, we then drove out to Colmar, France, which really wasn't a great town.  I did catch a quick glimpse of the state of Frédéric Bartholdi, the sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty.  Our next recommendation had been Strasbourg--and that was a good one.  What a great town to visit!  Part German, part French, and it seems they combined the best parts of the two.  There is a "petit" Notre Dame in the centre city, but it is not all that "petit" and actually quite wonderful.  We loved seeing this church and found it very unique in its outward design.  After strolling around the town we settled on dinner--partly just so we could say we'd gone to France for dinner!

It was quite late at this point, and dark, so thank goodness for our GPS to help us get to Baden Baden for the night.  Our hotel was not well marked and it was only after a good deal of confusion that we finally got our rest.


The next day we decided to skip the spas (the normal attraction of Baden Baden) in favor of a walk along the river and ice cream.  We then headed out in search of more hiking, but didn't find great trails, though the drive was nice.  There was quite a crowd of cars in one area (imagine a German Memorial Day--I guess what the beaches look like in the States) so we decided to see what that was all about.  There was some kind of hotel/resort-ish establishment around a beautiful lake with some shops and restaurants.  We enjoyed a lovely walk around the lake, considered waiting to rent a paddle boat, and did a bit of shopping.  We were very glad we stopped there.

We then drove back to Karlsruhe to leave the car and rode the train home to Marburg--another successful and fun trip.

Click for more photos from the Black Forest

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