A day in the Black Forest

After a day in Strasbourg and a day in Basel, on the Friday of my brother’s visit, we decided to just relax. After a lie in, we made crumpets for brunch, went out for a round of mini golf then, in the evening, my friend came over and we watched How to Train Your Dragon as I hadn’t seen it before and said friend had asked me to go to the cinema with her the following week to see the second one. Saturday was back to day trips! Having been to two different countries, I thought it was about time to see some of the local(ish) area, so we headed off into the Schwarzwald. Our first stop was Neuenbürg, or rather the castle above the town.

Black Forest
Looking down from Neunbürg castle

When we arrived, the castle museum in the main building wasn’t open yet, so we went and had a look at the ruins of the “Hinterburg” (literally “back or behind castle), an older building that was presumably used before the present-day castle was built. My photos of it are terrible! Sorry about that…

Once we’d finished exploring the ruins, we decided to head for the restaurant for a coffee while we waited for the museum to open. Once we were brought menus, we decided that, actually, we might as well have lunch since it was already after 12. We each chose to have a Pfanno – a speciality of the restaurant that’s somewhere between a pancake, a pizza and an omlette. It has too much egg to really be a pancake, and it tastes a lot like an omlette, but itthe savoury ones looked kind of like a pizza with the toppings. I went for the tuna version while my brother went for a sweet version with apple and cinnamon. Jan had the Elsass style one (not pictured), which basically had traditional Flammkuchen style topping – bacon, onions and creme fraiche. They were tasty, but very filling! I couldn’t actually finish mine.

By the time we’d finished eating the museum was open and it was also starting to rain (the only time we had bad weather throughout my brother’s stay!), so inside was a good place to be! The museum begins with a retelling of a fairycalled “Das kalte Herz” (The Cold Heart). To go with the stories, there are wood carvings and light sillhouettes of the various characters. My brother was given a set of headphones so he could listen to the story in English. It was kind of a weird thing to find in a castle museum, but somehow cute.

The remainder of the museum had general stuff about the castle and local area. At the end was an exhibition of architects collected from people living in the town, including old games. I took the following picture because the sign amused me:

Schloss Neunbürg

All the things in that particular display case had to do with the railway. For those who don’t read German, the sign says “No smoking and no spitting on the floor.” Hahaha.

By the time we left the castle, it was raining pretty heavily, so our original plan of a possible work in the woods was out. Instead, we headed to Hirsau in the Calw region because I had read there was an Abbey museum there. Museum = indoors! Unfortunately, there was no English information in the museum so I ended up translating things for my brother! The first 2 floors were about the church that the museum is located in and the abbey/life of the monks, then there was a floor with information about Hirsau and the surrounding area, including an album of old photos. Once we’d finished with the museum, it had stopped raining and we were able to head over to the ruins of the abbey itself.

Outside the little chapel (the Lady Chapel), there was a tonne of rose petals on the ground. Since there was no rose bush to be seen, I can only assume somebody had married in the chapel that day and had rose petals strewn on them. What a gorgeous setting to get married! Shame about the awful weather.

I had seen on Facebook that The Seán Treacy Band, who have been mentioned on this blog before, were playing in a village called Schömberg, also not far from Calw, so we decided to finish our day by going to see them perform. The village was having its Glückswoche (happiness/luck week) and there was a mini festival going on. We ate spiralled potatoes on sticks, sausages (my brother) and pork steaks (me), had a few drinks and watched the first half of the band’s performance before heading back to Karlsruhe for the night.

Advertisements

Triberg im Schwarzwald

Since the weather forecast for Saturday was good, I suggested to Jan that we should go somewhere. After all, this could be the last sunny weekend we experience this year. Cold days are coming! We decided on Triberg in the Black Forest.

Triberg features the highest accessible waterfalls in Germany – do not be fooled by all the advertising that labels them the highest! It’s a lie… the actual highest is the Röthbach Waterfall in Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, but getting to that one requires a boat ride then a hike! Triberg is slightly more accessible…

View from opposite the train station
View from opposite the train station

We took the Schwarzwaldbahn (Blackforest Train) to Triberg, arriving at 11:45 a.m., so after going on a hunt for a bank, our first stop was lunch! We chose to go to the Marktplatzstube, because it looked at least slightly less touristy than most of the other restaurants. It’s basically an Italian restaurant and the menu is fairly standard, but I thought the food was good. Jan had canneloni with lots of meat and cheese while I chose the salmon ravioli.

It was a gorgeous sunny day and autumn was in full swing… so many beautiful colours! Walking through town, I was so warm I actually took my coat off – although I put it back on again once we got to the waterfall! It’s much chillier there, what with the shade from the trees and the water acting like natural air conditioning. Here are a few photos of the town and our walk to the waterfall.

The Rathaus (Town Hall)
The Rathaus (Town Hall)

It costs €3.50 to visit the waterfalls, but I think that’s okay considering how well maintained the trail was. Where you pay the entrance fee, you can also buy small bags of peanuts to feed the squirrels – apparantly they like to hang around near the top of the waterfall and are fairly tame. We didn’t actually see any squirrels though, so we started feeding the many birds hovering around instead. We would place a peanut on the fence, step back and wait for a bird to notice. One of the many information boards informed us that these birds are called Nutcrackers, or Spotted Nutcrackers.

It took a lot of peanuts to get that second shot!

Once we’d finished looking at the waterfall and having fun with birds, we decided to take one of the other trails through the woods – the Kulturpfad (Culture Trail). Once we got away from the waterfall, there were a lot fewer people around. And we were soon rewarded with a sighting of a black squirrel to share some of our remaining nuts with!

Where the trail left the woods, we discovered a small lake with ducks and a church, the Wallfahrtskirche. There was also a children’s playground beside the lake. From there, we took the road back into town and stopped from some Neuer Wein (Young Wine – it’s wine that’s just starting to ferment) before heading back to the train station.

Triberg is quite a nice little town, but it is incredibly touristy (as you can tell by the entire street ouf souvenir/Black Forest cuckoo clock shops near the entrance to the waterfall!). Personally, I think we picked the right time of year to go, when it was still warm but not too crowded… it was actually possible to have my photo taken in front of the waterfall without a dozen other people being in the picture! And of course there’s the added bonus of all the autumn colours, which you wouldn’t have in July or August. I wouldn’t recommend going if the weather is bad, but on a sunny day the waterfall and culture trail make for a nice walk. There’s also a Black Forest Museum if you find yourself with a few extra hours to kill once you’ve had enough nature.

colourful tree

I NEED to do this!

Giant barrels
Fancy sleeping in one fo these? (Photo credit: emotionaltoothpaste)

Quick post while on my lunch break.
I just randomly came across this link, while looking for something entirely different: http://www.tourism-bw.com/Gourmet-Country/Spend-the-night-in-a-wine-barrel

Black Forest Wine Barrel Hotel

B&Bs don’t come more fun than checking in for a night in a huge wine barrel. What once held 2,000 gallons of wine is now a comfy place to spend the night.

The village of Sasbachwalden is only around an hour’s drive from Karlsruhe, but that doesn’t mean we can’t spend the night there. Especially if it’s in a wine barrel.

This is definitely going on the 35 before 35 list!

For those who speak German, here is a link to the hotel’s own website: http://schlafen-im-weinfass.de/ Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be available in English.

Freiburg Christmas market

Wares at a stall on the Kartoffelmarkt
Wares at a stall on the Kartoffelmarkt

Last Saturday we went to Freiburg Christmas market. (Yes, a week ago. Despite blogging pretty much every day, I’m totally behind. *sigh*). I had been to Freiburg once before, during my year abroad. Jan and I went to visit another girl from my uni who was doing her year abroad in Freiburg. However, as our visit basically consisted of going for pizza with her friends then heading to the Messe (fun fair) which was in town at the time, I took zero photos and saw just about enough of the town to decide I had to come back some day.

Jan and I had been planning to go to a Christmas market in a nearby town one weekend, and when I spotted a giant poster at the train station informing me that Freiburg Weihnachtsmarkt is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary this year, it was settled. So off to Freiburg we went (Jan, myself and my Scottish friend K, that is).

Freiburg im Breisgau, to give it it’s full name, is known for being the warmest place in Germany. Not that that means anything at this time of year – it was still -2°C when we were there! It is also actually in the Black Forest (whereas Karlsruhe only almost is).

Freiburg’s town centre is full of pretty little streets and, being December, naturally they were all decorated with Christmas lights.

Freiburg Christmas lights

Freiburg lights

I’m sure they would be much more impressive at night 😉 As for the Christmas market (our reason for being there!), you could certainly tell that Freiburg attracts a lot more tourists than Karlsruhe. Our first stop was for food, which just had to be Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes). I chose to have mine with garlic sauce (I love potatoes and garlic, remember). Along with German, the stall we went to listed its wares in French and English as well. Yep, touristy! After my potatoes, I was still hungry so I decided to be a traditionalist and go for a Bratwurst in a bun. Yum! After food, it was time for Glühwein! 🙂 But first Jan had to find a bank and I had to take this photo:

Freiburg Martinstor

The tall tower thing you can see is the Martinstor (Martin’s Gate). Note the Macdonalds as well. Although the cuty council couldn’t prevent them from putting up their sign, they were able to stop them from using their usual horrible yellow logo, which I think is excellent! (The only thing better would have been no Macdonalds at all in such a lovely old building.)

After a few Glühweins, the natural response to lots of liquid kicked in 😉 so we headed off in the direction that the sign for “WC” was pointing. After using the facilties, we spotted some stalls that I don’t think had anything to do with the actual Christmas market, but were selling some pretty things so of course I had to have a look. I wanted to buy this hat, but decided not to in the end.

It's a lion!
It’s a lion!

Since we had a while to wait before we could get a train home, we decided to go and check out the Christmas goings on at the Kartoffelmarkt (literally: Potato Market). It’s basically a pretty little square which, as the name suggests, was once used for the selling of potatoes. It has its own little Christmas market offshoot, which is smaller and slightly less crowded. Here’s a photo:

Kartoffelmarkt Weihnachtsmarkt

After a quick browse of the stands, we finished our trip with more Glühwein – blueberry for me and cherry for K (I’m not sure what Jan had). Very tasty 🙂

The market was pretty crowded, but not nearly as bad as we were expecting (or as bad as Heidelberg for that matter!). I would say it’s worth a visit if only to get yourself a cup with 40 Jahre Freiburger Wiehnachtsmarkt on it (ok, that will only work for another week ;-)). Freiburg itself is pretty, too and certainly worth a visit even when the Christmas market isn’t in town.

Calw

I haven’t posted in a while because there hasn’t been anything to say. When I wasn’t at work, I was proofreading somebody’s PhD thesis (written in English by a German), which is basically also work. In between I managed to watch some football, but seeing as anyone who is interested has probably been watching that themselves I don’t feel the need to blog about it. After all this work with no play, I was desperate for a change of scenery yesterday – if only to get my away from the housework for a while! So Jan and I decided to go to Calw.

Calw is about an hour’s drive from Karlsruhe, in the Black Forest. It’s famous for being the birthplace of German author Hermann Hesser – among other things, he wrote the novel Steppenwolf. Some of you may remember the 60s band of the same name. (I, of course, am far too young ;-)).
Our first stop on arriving in Calw was thus the Hermann Hesse Museum, for obvious reasons. Unfortunately we didn’t arrive til 4:30 p.m. and the museum closed at 5, so we only had time for a quick look. We could have done with more time to read everything properly, but what we did manage to take in was interesting.

Having seen the museum, we went to have a proper look around town. Calw is located in the Nagold valley, which allowed it to escape being bombed during the war. This means lots and lots of pretty old buildings. Just the kind of town I like!
Here is the Marktplatz. You can see the half-timbered houses and the Market Fountain in the background:

Calw Marktplatz

Marktplatz again, this time taken from right next to the fountain:

Hermann Hesse was born in this house:

Hermann Hesse birth house

I took a photo of a lantern, just because I always do.

Lantern and rooves

Later, we walked down to the river and I took this picture because I liked the reflection of the clouds in the water:

River Nagold

In the evening, we ate at a cafe/bar place called Kult – their homemade soups are delicious! – and stayed there to watch the football before heading home. It was a lovely day in a beautiful town (we were lucky that the weather decided to be nice for a change, but unlike Würzburg, I think Calw would still be pretty on a rainy day) and I get to cross another German town off my list of places to see. Not a bad Saturday at all 🙂

It’s raining, it’s pouring

Apparantly it’s snowing in the Black Forest. Actually, it’s been snowing up there for about 3 weeks, but apparantly now the snow has moved down. Presumably that means it’s not only snow at the top of the mountains now.
So did I ever mention I live near the Black Forest? Not near enough though apparantly – here it’s been raining non-stop for 2 days.  The weather forecast for today is – yup, you’ve guessed it – rain. I’d almost rather have the snow, even if it is only October and therefore (in my eyes) still autumn. Snow should be reserved for winter. But then again, I think rain should be reserved for early spring (to help the new plants grow) and days when I don’t have to go to work. It’s not like the weather gods have ever listened to me though. Not even when I was very young and would say the rhyme:

Rain, rain go away,
Come again another day.

Or alternatively:
Rain, rain go to Spain,
Never, ever come again.
(The idea being that Spain was too sunny for its own good and desperately needed our rain as well as its own)

It’s probably a good job the weather gods never paid any attention. If I’d had my way the UK would be waterless and Spain constantly flooded.

I want that job!

I’ve just been looking at the German job centre website, as I so often do these days, and I’ve found a job that would be great for me. It’s in Gernsbach in the Black Forest. A quick look at the Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) website tells me that from here it’s only a roughly 45 minute train ride to Gernsbach train station, which means it would be possible to commute from here. The job is for a trainee translator. They want someone with excellent English skills, preferably a native speaker. This person should have “good” translation skills. I have both of those covered! Unlike the other jobs I’m applying for, this one is not at a translation company. The employer is actually a publishing house, specialising in information about environmental issues – waste management, recycling, water (and the cleaning thereof). The applicant should be interested in environmental policy. It all sounds great. I am good at translation (81% in my last assignment says it all really), I am interested in the environment and in recycling and, most of all, I’m interested in finding a job that’s either in Karlsruhe (where I live) or at least somewhere that I can easily commute to. I really, really don’t want to move (well, actually I do want to move, but only out of this building – not half way across the country).  Ideally I would have liked to stay at the company where I’m doing my internship, but as the bosses don’t want to give me permanent position this job in Gernsbach sounds perfect for me. I’ve just written my application for it. I just have to wait for my boyfriend to come and proofread it for me then it shall be sent on its merry way. If anyone has happened to stumble across this blog then please keep your fingers crossed for me. Cos I really, really want this job!