What could be better than spending a week in one of the highest villages in the Hoch Schwartzwald, the High Black Forest, at a time just before Christmas with ski slopes lying all around? We had a great time indeed, but not by playing in the snow, because there wasn’t any, at least not enough to speak of. Still, our little village of Hinterzarten was a great place to hang out for a while and have lots of fun just soaking up the atmosphere.

The town's fine old hotel

The town’s fine old hotel

Hotel entry traditionally decorated

Hotel entry traditionally decorated

To back up a bit in time, the route from Pfronten took us near Lake Constance (Bodensee) where miles of orchards, located in a relatively mild climate, supply Germany with a variety of fruit. We stopped at a fruit stand that was selling apples and pears in a serious way – large bags at a very low price. We bought lots of delicious pears.

Fruit stand with low, not high, prices

Fruit stand with low, not high, prices

People buy lots of apples here, in big bags.

People buy lots of apples here, in big bags.

The Black Forest is the headwaters of the Danube River (Donau) and Donaueschingen is the first city in its downward flow all the way to the Black Sea. We paid it a brief visit. A Christmas market was in full swing. We enjoyed live music and some people watching.

Brass Band

Brass Band

Youth band

Youth band


A few vendor stalls selling food and hand made crafts.

A few vendor stalls selling food and hand made crafts.

As darkness was falling and cold rain showers chilled us, we rushed off to Hinterzarten, our next nest for a week. We had a fine Ferienwohnung within walking distance of everything, including a world class ski jump.

Our cozy bedroom in a generous sized apartment. Note the fluffy, warm comforters and pillows.

Our cozy bedroom in a generous sized apartment. Note the fluffy, warm comforters and pillows.

As much as we enjoyed Hinterzarten we couldn’t resist walking one day to the quite well known resort of Titisee, a few kilometers away. We started by fixing a good German style breakfast – dark bread, soft boiled egg, cured ham, liverwurst, fresh fruit and coffee. Outside a light snow had fallen.

a good homemade breakfast

A good homemade breakfast

A bit of snow fell overnight as seen from our living room.

A bit of snow fell overnight as seen from our living room.

Most of the way we enjoyed snow flurries as we walked through forest and meadow, but there wasn’t much accumulation on the ground.

Typical south German church rather marked the start of our two hour walk through the snow.

Typical south German church rather marked the start of our two hour walk through the snow.

We passed the ski jump.

We passed the ski jump.

A simple arrow pointed the way.

A simple arrow pointed the way.

We passed neatly stacked logs, maybe soon to be firewood.

We passed neatly stacked logs, maybe soon to be firewood.

The train we could have taken passes us by.

The train we could have taken passes us by.

We had hoped to buy a few souvenirs in Titisee but all the shops were closed until after Christmas. Even the restaurants were closed so we settled on lunch at the train station. This was a really nice place and was actually the town bakery. The food was delicious.

Fine lunch at the train station

Fine lunch at the train station

Instead of returning home by train, we took the next train that was heading in the other direction, to Neustadt. Despite really ugly weather, we so enjoyed walking the town, including the immaculate bathrooms at the city hall. Late in the day we took the jammed train back to Hinterzarten.

Trains are heavily used.

Trains are heavily used.

We hadn’t realized early in our planning just how many friends and family Eva had in this area. We took the (free) train time and again down off the slopes into Freiburg, and even to Karlsruhe, many miles away.

We were so pleased to be able to visit with the daughter-in-law of one of Eva’s close friends in Santa Rosa. Jeff had married a year ago in Freiburg and moved there, but had had a wedding reenactment in Healdsburg last summer. There we met kin and friends. Now we could visit on their turf. We were invited to dinner, and what a good time we had.

New friends in Freiburg

New friends in Freiburg

One day we were met in Karlsruhe by Eva’s first cousin, Sabine. She and husband Wolfgang invited us to their home before having noon-time dinner at a neighborhood Italian restaurant.

Sabine and Wolfgang share some stories.

Sabine and Wolfgang share some stories.

We had time also to visit Sabine’s lovely daughter, Juliane, before rushing off to the train station for a 2.5 hour home to Hinterzarten.

Juliane

Juliane

On another occasion we had a lovely visit with “rather lost” first cousin, Regine, whom she hasn’t seen in 15 years. She treated us to a fine lunch and a walking tour of Freiburg, with coffee and cakes near the top of the old fortification.

Eva's cousin, Regine

Eva’s cousin, Regine

The morning we left the high country, it snowed a bit more. Icy rain first coated the car with a tenacious layer of ice that took some doing to scrape off.

Winter routine

Winter routine

At the bottom of the mountains lies Freiburg, the warmest city in Germany. Beyond lies the River Rhine, and France, a few miles away. We had our last visit at Peter’s for sparkling wine, lunch and a great view over Freiburg from the rooftop terrace.

Peter pours the bubbly on the rooftop terrace.

Peter pours the bubbly on the rooftop terrace.

A great view from the dining room

A great view from the dining room

Eva and I say our goodbye to Peter and Gabi, Jeff's mother-in-law.

Eva and I say our goodbye to Peter and Gabi, Jeff’s mother-in-law.

What a great time we have had in Germany. I wonder now what France will have to offer?

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