I am a mountain person. Have always been. I do love the sea very much, and have a soft spot for the excellent dive sites around the world, but I will always favour the mountains and its forests, the furry and tweeting creatures in them, the trees and the streams and waterways that run through them.
And it was why we decided for our last leisure weekend in Germany before our move to London that we visit the Black Forest.
Yes, the Black Forest, where the cake of its namesake originated from.
We wanted to make use of the still warm climate and get closer to nature, at the same time, enjoy some relaxing moments together before moving back to the chaos of a modern city life.
We based ourselves in Freiburg, a picturesque city among the hills region, where houses are colourful, the markets lively and there are plenty of cobbled stoned streets for us to explore.
Among the bakeries, breweries and souvenir shops filled with cuckoo clocks we find the Munster at the centre of it all, like all churches grand and small, this one towered over the town centre attracting the needed attention. Not just from the worshipers of God, but attention of everyone with a sense of humour. Don’t know what I mean? Just ask the gargoyles in this picture:
Ha ha! Right? :)
Looking beyond the buildings in the distance we could sense the impeding forest – they did look rather black (and I suppose, is the reason for being called ‘black forest’, must similar to the ‘blue mountains’ in Australia) and gloomy – the hills here don’t exactly roll, rather waves upon waves seem to close in as the blackness of its outlook have some sort of frightening effect to them.
These are the sort of forests that could be associated with where the huntsman took Snow White, where Hansel & Gretel stumbled across the candy house, or where Little Red Riding Hood may have encountered the wolf… and I would imagine to be very ‘blair witch’ like in winter.
At the same time, the dense trees seem to call out to visitors. Come! There are birds among my branches and walks between my trunks. You didn’t come all this way just to gawk at me from far did you?
And like that, I was beckoned, as I knew no visit to the Black Forest is complete without a walk in the forest, and there are various lovely walking trails in the region to explore.
Fifteen minutes train ride from Freiburg we arrived at the small town of Kirschzarten, located in a small valley surrounded by the forest. On the same train were a large groups of hikers, walking poles and all with the determination to conquer the deepest parts of the trails with gusto. Without fancy equipment, we decided to take it easy and followed well defined trails, and walked aimlessly where cows and horses roam the paddocks, through a scene out of some fairy tale.
It was a hot day, and the trees acted as natural shade where on entering the forest we immediately felt the cooling effect. There was this fresh natural fragrance in the air that I’ve always associated with mountains and forests as we stepped through the path among the trees, accompanied by high pitched bird calls and sounds of leaves that shuffled in the wind.
There’s something else in this region that people come for, and that’s the natural thermal mineral waters. A dip in the hot bathes at Keidel was just what we needed to relax. Unlike those in New Zealand or parts of Asia, these waters are not sulfuric, and not subject to the foul smells associated with thermal springs, so it was easy to just be drifted away in thoughts among the trees that surround the bathes.
We were looking forward to sampling the legendary ‘Black Forest Cake’ (Schwarzwald Kirschkuchen) on this visit , but have been advised that cherries are currently not in season! Oh wells, gives us an excuse to return again during cherry season I guess!