Mar 12


When we went to Belchen last week, we drove through this picturesque tiny town, nested under the Black forest hills, and guarded by a ruin of a castle in the middle of wineries. We were too wet and tired to stop there last week but decided to pay a visit to Staufen to explore its little streets, and to see what the geothermal drilling fuss is all about. (Nothing, really.) The sun was shining, and the spring is clearly here to stay. We found a nice little trail that starts going up to the castle ruin, then circles the town going through the nearby hills and a couple of viewpoints, and then gently rolls back into town on the other side. Perfect stroll for a lazy sunny day.

The castle is only ruins but you can still go up the tower to have some nice panoramic views. Which we did. We also saw a little oen bach lost running around in the vineyards and crying. Iest said it would not make it through the night, but I think it did.

Staufen ruin

From the castle we made our way into the forest, with some occasional views back through the trees. The trail to the St. Johannes chapel was all meditative, lined with signs bearing quotations from haute literature about how trees and nature will set you free and stuff (ok my German is not all that good, but I did notice the forest/tree theme connecting them all, and I even knew the one from Faust – Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie, und grün des Lebens goldner Baum), so altogether it was no wonder that the goats living by the chapel are so chilled out – they surely know the true meaning of life.

St. Johannes chapel


From there it was only a short walk to the Messerschmidfelsen with a lovely view, where we had a little chat with some locals, and we were on our way back down to town.


In town we checked the historical centre, which was charming, but we also found ourselves a bit hungry by then, so we thought it would be a good idea to sit somewhere in the sun and have a little grub. The flammkuchen we ordered was delicious, but when the sun went a bit down and cut our table from its warmth we had to finish quite quickly. Altogether, we found Staufen very cute and would be even nice to live there but we agreed that riding my bike for like 25 kms every morning and night to and from work might be a little bit too much.



Iest with the castle

Iest with a beer (which was mine)


Mar 12

Parov Stelar – live!

Finally the day of Parov Stelar band arriving to our provincial town came! Parov Stelar Princess Tour 2012!

We were of course very excited about this, especially me, because Parov had been my favorite artist for over two years, and yet their concert had never been in a reasonable proximity to me. Until now. I got the tickets as soon as we found out Freiburg is on the lucky tour, beginning of December. This gave me whole three months of excitement, while still making a cool christmas present for Iestyn. Talk about efficient.

On the day we left nothing to chance – we arrived at seven and patiently waited for E-Werk to open and let us in. This meant we got in early enough to see Parov’s tools close up, including the logo of the tour – yes, Parov is of course a cat lover. We had a couple of drinks to get us in the mood (not that that was really needed). The place started filling up quickly, and soon we were standing in the middle of dense crowd in some very humid heat. Never mind, not long after the show began, and it was just as good as we imagined it would be!

Parov’s playground



Max the sax

Mar 12

Belchen 1414m (Spring is here!)

Beautiful sunny Saturday morning, full of glory. We decided to go for a proper nice walk to celebrate the winter retreat. The target was the hill of Belchen, the fourth highest peak of the Black Forest, lying in the lesser explored south-of-Freiburg area.
We parked Claude in a small village of Münstertal, which is at about 400 meters altitude, which according to our trusted guidebook meant a trail of some 1120 meters in altitude gain to get to the top of Belchen; and that in only some six kilometers in length, so pretty much straight up. Once we hit the slope, the signs were clear – the spring had arrived! Birds chirping, sun shining, snow melting – plus I could totally tell by the way my hair was glowing.

Spring is here!

Soon we left Münstertal below, and immersed ourselves in the deep forest. Marching up like machines, we saw the altimeter on Iest’s watch flashing crazily, and giving up soon after – poor thing couldn’t keep up with us. (Even though it’s fair to say that this day did not find Iest in his top form, he puffed like a steam engine and sweated gallons. Good thing there were some refreshment stations along the way. Me, on the other hand, was running around like a gazellette enjoying the spring vibrations.) After a while we ventured into the snow territory, even though the snow was clearly giving out to the spring mood.


Forest sans snow

Forest with snow

Refreshment station

When we emerged from the forest at Hohkelch, we already got some pretty views, and despite the sun, the snow was quite deep at places. Snowshoes were not necessary but would not have been completely out of place. But once we traversed more to the southern side of the hill there was only very little snow, and it was a good place for our right-under-the-top break in the sun, with a snack and yes our moose thermos full of tea, which was nice.


Almost there

Nice view

When we got to the top we were intrigued by a wooden box with circular holes high up and a snowman. After a close investigation, we soon discovered that the snowman was just built by some kids, but the wooden box remained mystery – no visible entrance from any side, no discernible use. Iestyn studied carefully the scribbles at the picnic table nearby but to no avail.

Belchen top mysteries



The views were pretty but there was not much to do, so we decided to slide down on the other side of the hill, to get back to the valley where we left Claude. According to our guidebook simplified tiny map there should be some trails going down that way, and we knew the general direction, so there was no way to get lost. What we did not really think through was the fact that we were going down the shady side, and also the steeper cliffy one. So, in no time at all, we found ourselves thigh-deep in wet snow with every step, no path in sight, and falling over our pretty heads. Since we’ve been know to be pretty feisty in situations like this, we just sucked it up, and persevered determinedly until we part slid, part toiled and part plowed through that white mush under the snowline, found a trail and finished still in good mood but mighty tired of the day.