Because we love Freiburg and all the people in it, we decided to repeat our little trip from last year, effectively making it an annual tradition. This time we moved it to December, so that apart from all the food and people and places we like, we could also enjoy the xmas markets and snow. Unfortunately, the snow was not quite there (that only came a couple weeks later after new year’s, dammit!), but everything else was in place. We stayed with our great friend, which was amazing, and we also rented a little car this time, so we were super flexible. We did it all – Schauinsland over the clouds, Feldberg, Titisee, flammkuchen in Goldener Sternen, Feierling with friends (they have a new annexe and it’s pretty!), gluhwine, Turkish and Thai. For markets, we explored not only the usual Freiburg ones, but went also to Ravennaschlucht outside of town, where the market is nicely located in a gorge under a tall train viaduct, and we also swung by the Basel markets on our way back to the airport. So the only bother on the whole trip were, traditionally, the UK trains which were on strike, causing us to get up at 4am on the way there to be able to make it to Gatwick, and further stress on the way back. I am done with complaining about UK trains on this blog, but if they don’t nationalise this omnishambles soon, my head might explode. But we did not let that spoil anything, and we enjoyed ourselves a lot.
And just like that, our fantastic break came to an end. We decided it was best to retire Stinky the tent (by ‘we’, I mean Gina), as he’d given us a lot, and was starting to show his age, and namesake. We dropped him in the bin of the campsite, and started our epic journey back home to Freiburg! Fantastic holiday.
(Due to some reason or another, I forgot to write this back in 2012 – so now, 2 and a half years later, I’m attempting to remember the details of our epic trip we did together to Italy).
After filling Claude to the max with all of our gear, we hit the road on what would be a 6 hour drive from Freiburg to Cortina d’Ampezzo – which would be our first stop on our Italian vacation.
We drove, towards lake Konstantz, through to Innsbruck in Austria, past Lago di Landro (pictured below with Gina) and on to the beautiful Cortina d’Ampezzo – where we would stay for a few days. We found ourself a stunning wee campsite called Olympia – and pithed our tent on the banks of the river that ran through the camp.
Due to the epic drive – we just toured Cortina in the evening, taking in all the epic views that the Dolomites had to offer, and had our first pizza of the trip.
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!
After unwrapping our beautiful presents in the morning (we must have been good last year, especially Iestyn), and having lots of christmas cookies and other sweets, we decided to go for a short walk up Schauinsland, to make space in our bellies for the epic christmas dinner. We could not really have gone for a longer walk, as epic christmas dinners take a long time to make (even though we already prepared lots of stuff the day before).
Schauninsland was full of snow, and had a strange lid of grey clouds hanging over the whole of the sky, except at the end over the horizon, where the sky ran out of clouds and showed some Alp peaks in the sun. We went up the tower, and both of us made it all the way to the top, which was great. Iestyn made pictures, while I was playing with the tiny icicles made by snow and wind.
We got up super early, and headed into town, wearing our lovely new Welsh Rugby shirts (Diolch yn fawr mam a dad!) to support the Welsh Rugby team in the Semi Finals vs. France. Our destination was our local Irish Pub, O’Kelly’s – which is a proper Irish Pub, here in Freiburg. As we walked in, the Â pub seemed to be full of French supporters, so we had a quick look around, saw some Welsh supporters sitting in the corner, and decided to join them. As it was (almost) the crack of dawn, there was no beers or the like for us, as we sipped some nice coffee and tea to watch the game.
Unfortunately, due to someÂ mishapsÂ in the Welsh team, with the lack of kicking the ball over the bar in the penalties, we didn’t get through to the Finals of the World Cup. But we both agreed that Wales was the best team, as we managed to ‘run the ball over the line’ more time than the ‘French sissies’. I had fun watching it with Gina – I hope we’ll get to watch some more matches in the future!
After a busy day in the shops of Freiburg, we decided to go for a wee drive with Claude to theÂ Schauinsland area, to try and catch the sunset, which was a great idea, as the sun went down with a brilliant red colour.
We didn’t make it all the way to the top of Schauinsland, as we would have missed the setting sun, but the niceÂ lay-by was good enough for us, as the view was beautiful on this Autumn day.
From here, we continued along the road to theÂ other side of the ridge, where we could see down into theÂ neighboringÂ valley, where Gina took this lovely panorama of the Black Forest.
It’s nice starting to feel the Autumn air here in the Black Forest, as the evenings are getting much colder and fresher, the sun starting to sink lower in the sky, and I cannot wait to see theÂ foliageÂ turn into theÂ fiery Autumn colours, as all we can see here is trees, I predict it’s going to be mighty fine!
It was a beautiful, sunny Sunday. We were armed with our wee book of hikes to take in the SÃ¼d-Schwarzwald (South of the Black Forest), and the destination for the day was a valley called Simonswald. It’s not far from Freiburg, about 25km to the North East. The trail that Gina picked for us was a circular walk up the valley, high above the town of Simonswald, that followed a gentle river, and dotted along the river were these water mills, which were used to grind wheat and such. They were very pretty wee mills, especially the higher up the valley we went.
We arrived around noon, to a very busy, jam-packed Simonswald. At the center of the village green, was a competition of manliness; Â Tug of war. The village was booming with supporters, as there seemed to be a lot of teams that had come far and wide. We chilled a bit watching the wars, but decided to push on, to find the trail head.
We eventually found the start of the trail, and made our way up the valley. The whole valley were dotted with apple trees, which had some brilliantly red apples on them, whenever we got the chance, we grabbed a few to enjoy on our journey, they were very very tasty. On the lower part of the valley, there was some pretty epic houses and gardens, which Gina liked, as she’s a full grown gardener now.
The sun was blasting on thisÂ gloriousÂ Sunday, and we were making our way to the top of the valley. The signs of Autumn were getting apparent, as Gina spotted a few red leaves here and there. We passed another water mill, but this one was located in a farmers field, so we decided not to visit it. Just before turning off the road that led up the Valley, we came across a really nice chapel sitting high, overlooking the valley below.
From the chapel, we turned into the forestÂ itself. We were treated to freshÂ Brombeeren (blackberries) and we happily picked and ate as we ventured ahead. After resting in a top-class hÃ¼tte, we came a a very nice open view of the whole Simonswald valley, where I managed to take this panorama:
We chilled here for aÂ littleÂ while (on the wee bench on the left) to enjoy the view and the sun. From here, everything was a gentle downhill walk back towards the village.
We came to the most glorious mill on the whole circuit. Our wee book even has this mill listed as ‘Top Tip’ – which means, be sure to check this place out. The mill, now it seems, is a walk-in museum of what the mill used to be like back in the day when it was used. Located on the upper floor was the grinder in which they used to grind down the wheat, and on the lower floor was some information about the mill, with some newspaper clippings, as I believe it’s just been newlyÂ renovated. It’s calledÂ Wehrlehof-muhle, and was built in 1879. As the brook that feeds the water wheel (used to grind the wheat) hasn’t got that much water in it, they’ve built, out of a 10m hollow tree, a shoot to connect the water to the mill, so they made sure it got some water! The outside of the mill looked very nice:
Then from here, we made our way back into the village. The route was right through the forest, where there were a couple of tiny little mills – to which I have no idea what the were used for. We then came out of the forest, and along the road – over the river, which had plenty of fish chilling lazily in it, through an epic apple orchard, to the center of the village where the tug of war was coming to an end. As the activities had drawn in the whole village, beer & food tents were set up, so we decided to grab something small to eat, and Gina had a quick beer!
A very nice, gentle Sunday afternoon stroll.
Day 1. Aha – Feldberg (Red line on Map below)
Over the Easter weekend, we did our first epic hike of the Black Forest. We caught the train from Freiburg to a little village called Aha, on the shores of Schluchsee lake, South East of Freiburg. It was a really pleasant trip on the train, enjoying the scenery, and looking at the locals eating sweets.
After a quick lunch on the lake, we headed West, around the Northern shore of the lake, and into the Wilderness of the forest. After ascending for a bit, we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the Schluchsee, and that lovely feeling of Spring, as the trees were starting to bloom.
After gaining some height, we stopped at the Rosshutte for a quick break, to read the map, and get some water from a wee spring that was situated behind it. From reading the map, we decided to take a lovely walk up to the highest peak in the area, seeing as it was a viewpoint. This peak was called Zweiseenblick [and as the German enthusiasts among us know, this actually means two-lake-view]. After a joyous walk, we reached Zweiseenblick. It was quite full, it was almost a Tourist Highway, as there was a good group of people at the top, enjoying the views of the Black Forest. We decided not to stay long, and make our way towards Feldberg.
Along the way, there plenty of photo opportunities. We saw Feldberg (1,493m) with it’s towers, (which was our destination on day one), and the beautiful Menzenschwand Valley, where Gina showed me how strong she is, (On the photo above, check out her Deltoid!! She’s not even flexing!!) where we can see the town of Hinterdorf – plus a description of how this glacial valley came to be. All in German though.
We made speed, and headed towards Feldbergernof, which is a small, odd place. It’s geared towards the skiers, and snowboarders in Winter, as the slopes of Feldberg above is perfect for beginners for skiing – but as the snow was just about, all gone – it was full of tourists, who was there to enjoy the views. We headed to the cafe, and I got myself my First Black Forest Gateaux since my arrival here. It was very good, and washed down with some beer.
We headed up to the summit of Feldberg, the highest summit in the Black Forest. Here, on a good clear day, you can see the whole of Alps, and able to make out the Eiger, Jungfrau and even Mt. Blanc. Unfortunately for us the haze was in, so we couldn’t see beyond the Black Forest – but it was still very nice. There was still a bit of snow nested in the shadows of the sun, hidden within folds of the mountain, but the views of the Black Forest were beautiful.
We decided to pitch our tent just off the summit, overlooking the Feldsee lake. A pretty wee circular lake, nested right at the bottom of 300m cliffs, to the East of the summit. According to legend, there’s a ghost that spooks the lake, shouting to hikers “Hey, you! You’re going the wrong way! If you want to go to Feldberg, you must take the different path!” If you look at him then, the spell is broken. No-one knows however, if this rewards the spirit and set him free. For dinner that evening I had some noodles and mushroom sauce, and Gina didn’t eat any, she just went to sleep after all day fun in the sun. Gina fell asleep quite fast, but i played around on the top, looking at the stars, and taking some photographs. As I headed into bed, I realised that I’d forgotten my sleeping mat at home. Luckily for me, it wasn’t very cold that evening, and I managed to sleep ok.
Day 2 Feldberg – Todtnau (Blue Line on Map below)
We woke up super early, and made our way back up towards the summit of Feldberg. There wasn’t a soul around, and we were in for another beautiful, hot day. The trek was mostly contouring around Stubenwassen, making our gentle downhill approach to the village of Todtnau. It was a good mornings hike, through very pretty forest, and some un maintained trails, resulting in us taking the wrong path, I was pretty certain there was a Map Black Hole at the point, as nowhere made any sense on the map. Anyhoo – we managed to get back on track, and found a nice picture frame, sitting nicely above Todtnau.
Pretty much all the way on this second day, only one thing was on Gina’s mind – Twister Ice cream. So after arriving (after what seemed like an endless downhill from the picture frame), we came to the sleepy Village of Todtnau, where there was a nice market going, which felt really nice. We had some ice creams, (they didn’t have Twister unfortunately) and figured out how to make it back to Freiburg via a bus that was going directly there in an hour or so.
It was a lovely trip, and a great first proper hike in the Black Forest. It’s such a beautiful part of the World.
Here’s our route marked out on Google Maps. If you can’t view it – please let me know.
View Black Forest Walks in a larger map
I headed over to Freiburg last week, to be with Gina and visit where she now lives.
Freiburg is a lovely wee place. I’m very impressed with it. I loved the fact that it’s located right at the foothills of the Black Forest, and looking from a vantage point, you can see for weeks, just trees going towards the Horizon. Looking West, you can clearly see the Vosges Mountains which is situated in Eastern France, and when I went for a walk to meet Gina from work, I’m pretty sure I saw the Bernese Alps, Western Switzerland on the far Horizon. What an epic, lovely place!
For reasons that were completely beyond my control I had to leave my beloved London, and move to a much smaller town (technically, it’s actually a city, according to Iest’s definition of a cathedral presence) of Freiburg in southwest Germany.
Having spent my first few weeks here, I think it’s time to list the things I like about it.
1) Freiburg has a very friendly feel to it, people are generally very nice and helpful. The city is very green, not only thanks to its awesome location just on the foothills of the Black Forest, but also in lifestyle – it’s the most bike friendly city I’ve ever lived in. (And my bike is awesome too, and probably will deserve a post on his own.) Also, it is the sunniest city in the whole of Germany, and is right by the French and Swiss borders.
This is the view from my balcony.