Freiburg, Germany – Gateway to the Black Forest
Posted on June 30, 2014
With all due vigor we drove down the speedy Autobahn from Heidelberg with the intention of reaching our next place to stay somewhere up in the mountains well before nightfall. But we first had a date to stop off in Freiburg to meet Jeff and his German bride, Nicola, whom he met in Australia. Jeff grew up in Santa Rosa but elected to make his home in Freiburg, one of the most user-friendly cities in Germany, with the best climate and lots to do. Great choice, Jeff! We are friends of Jeff’s parents and grandmother and I’m sure they miss him being so far away.
Now that it was afternoon, the first order of German custom was to go somewhere for coffee and cake, preferably to a special, gemütlich, location. I followed Nicola’s direction to drive up narrow, twisting lanes that led us to a mountainside place that maybe was formerly someone’s mansion. We had a great view down below onto the town and the river beside it.
Later on, we did make it to our farm up in the forest, but that’s a story for another blog post. Another common German custom is to tax all overnight visitors with a daily ding. Now in the US that kind of tax seems to go to some inexplicable, invisible place such for advertising. But in Germany we see real physical payoff – great trails, excellent signage, clean parks and benches, free maps and brochures, fine tourist offices even in villages, that kind of thing. Were we ever surprised that our $2.00 a day tax included unlimited free bus and train travel over a 50 mile range, in fact all the way to Switzerland as well as up and down and through the Black Forest almost to Stuttgart.
But not to get too far ahead, we want to see a bit of Freiburg, where we spent parts of two days with Jeff guiding us one afternoon. To prepare ourselves we start with lunch. Chosen at random because Eva was in urgent need of a bathroom, it turned out to be Italian, and an excellent one at that.
Freiburg lost a lot of buildings toward the end of the war but is well restored and of manageable walking size, with roughly 50% more people than Santa Rosa has in a lot smaller space.
The huge Gothic church is the big draw for many tourists but we were more interested in the daily farmers’ market in front of the church, and the people that it attracted. Note that this is not a cathedral, despite its qualifying size, because Freiburg is not the seat of a bishop.
Now everybody gets hungry seeing all that food and smelling the warm mustard so they sit outside for a feeding. We joined them.
Before the day was out, we wandered down one of the older streets to admire the shops along the narrow way, before finding ourselves at the train station to catch our punctual train back home.