My friend Katie and I took a 5-day jaunt through Germany’s Black Forest region, visiting three towns: Freiburg, Heidelberg, and Tübingen. Here is an account of what we did while in Freiburg. Check back later for the other towns!
After a few hours on the train with some pretty countryside views flashing by the window, we arrived in Freiburg. It took us a little while to get our bearings and find our accommodations for the night, which were slightly removed from the city center. I won’t bother recommending the airbnb we stayed at, since in my opinion, it was lacking. There was no wifi (GASP) and when we brought groceries home that evening to make dinner, we discovered the kitchen wasnt even equipped with a pot to boil our pasta in! After some nervous debating and creative thinking, we improvised and used the electric kettle instead… and it worked out perfectly! So take this as a lesson: if you need to cook pasta, but you don’t have a stove or a pot – just shove it into the electric kettle. ;)
But let’s backtrack to earlier that day…
What better activity for our first day in Germany than a beer garden? Katie found a local favorite, Hausbrauerei Feierling. The waitress immediately suggested two pints of the house beer, so we obviously went along with her suggestion – when in Rome… I really enjoyed the beer, but don’t ask me what it was made from or the subtleties of its flavor, I know nothing about beer and rarely drink it! The beer was the star of the show here, but we ordered some snacks since we hadn’t eaten all day: Red sausage, white sausage, a huge pretzel, sweet mustard, and bread slathered in “white cheese” and a thick layer of minced chives. We found it very interesting that the white sausage was submerged in a bowl of warm water. Erik later told me you’re not supposed to eat the casing? shrug
Next up on our list was climbing to the top of the main church in town. Most of the tower is made of wood – alarming that it hasn’t rotted away after hundreds of years! This is a great first activity for any town; It allows you to see the entire city from above, so you can get your bearings and become oriented in a new place. Although, if you’re claustrophobic, the tiny, enclosed spiral staircases might be your worst nightmare, and in that case, I don’t recommend it!
The weather was absolutely perfect. The view from each side of the tower was strikingly different. Facing the sun, the landscape was awash with a bright, sunny haze, casting the evergreen mountains of the Black Forest in deep blue shadow. From the other side though, the sky was true blue and the architecture and mountains were brilliantly clear and crisp. See the difference in the pictures below.
Climbing the tower only cost 2 euros! In fact, everything in Germany was dirt cheap compared to the prices in Paris. When we were in Heidelberg, we managed to visit a museum for a whopping 1.50€.
The main square of Freiburg’s old town was incredibly charming, thanks to a bold red building that used to be a department store in the 1600s – at first I thought it was the town hall since, as it turns out, they’re both painted red. It didn’t look real to me, with its little turrets topped in rainbow roof tiles, gold trimmed pointed windows, and silver-clad members of the House of Habsburg in ostentatious suits of armor. The Habsburgs were an extremely important ruling family in Europe for about 300 years, perhaps the most famous member being Marie Antoinette.
We noticed that all throughout town were these small “canals,” sort of like gutters but more charming. More than once we noticed kids playing with toy boats in these miniature rivers, and this shop made use of the canal to display their inventory.
The next morning we only had a few hours before our bus to Heidelberg, so we had to tote all of our stuff around with us. In an unprecedented feat of minimalism by me, I was able to fit everything I needed inside my new, quite small, Fjallraven backpack (plus a purse). I rolled my clothes military style and decanted the few liquid toiletries I needed into small plastic pots. Perhaps sometime I’ll write a blog post on how to pack minimally.
We were happily surprised to stumble across a morning market in the church square! It was the most beautiful market I’ve ever seen with all the flowers, produce, wooden toys and marbles, sausages, richly colored spices, marinated olives and many other things I never knew I wanted until I saw them. There was one stall selling deserts slathered in honey and I’m not kidding when I say there was a swarm of bees in and around the stall! Needless to say, I gave the stall a very wide breadth, but the shopkeeper and patrons weren’t phased in the least! I can only assume this swarm of bees happens every week, and/or Europeans are way cooler about bees than most Americans I know.
For lunch, we enjoyed a sausage in a bun topped with fried onions and a carton of ripe raspberries.
Our bus to Heidelberg ended up being about an hour late to the station, but we made it in the end! Check back later for a whole new slew of photos from the bigger, slightly more majestic Heidelberg.