What's So Wunderbar?
When you think of the Black Forest, you may see images of quaint wooden houses with low shingle roofs and balconies festooned with flowers, or may lush, undulating pastures scenically dotted with contented cows, not to mention mysterious forests where you might run into Hansel and Gretel at any moment. Add some traditional costumes with red "bobble" hats, the ticking of a cuckoo clock and a slice of creamy Black Forest cake, and the scene is complete.
Germany's most popular scenic region has all of these, but no guidebook or photograph can quite capture the special mystique of this area's incomparable landscapes where you get the feeling that people really do live in harmony with unspoiled nature.
Why is it called the "Black Forest"?
Interestingly, the name is a bit of a misnomer because the Black Forest is neither black, even barely dark green, and much of it is not a forest! The name originally referred to the dense band of evergreen fir trees and confers covering many of the upper slopes of its rolling hills.
The region is relatively low-lying with low-slung tree-covered mountains which get a fair bit of snow in winter, and a fair bit of sun in summer. The topography means that it has managed to avoid over-industrialization, allowing it to keep its crafts, costumes and traditions relatively intact. Tourism has had much to do with this.
The Black Forest is located in south-western Germany, located to the east of the Upper Rhine in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg and is about 100 miles long and somewhere between 14-38 miles wide depending on which national border you approach. Numerous rivers, including the Danube and the Neckar, have their sources in the Black Forest.
What to See and Do
Famous for it's ham, for gateau, and hand-made cuckoo clocks, it’s a region of striking scenery where the farmhouses are well-maintained, villages are charming, neat, old and clean, and traditional costumes are widely displayed. There’s a bit of skiing in winter, and lots of excellent driving, walking or hiking trails in the hills during spring and summer. Most trails are well supplied with places to rest and refresh.
Freiburg im Breisgau
The University town of Freiburg is situated in the beautiful countryside at the foot of the Black Forest. In addition to the wonderful Cathedral with its Gothic spire, there is a lively and congenial feel to the town and plenty of street cafes in which to linger and immerse yourself in local culture.
Full of contrast and fascination, original and multi-faceted - the Glottertal is definitely one of the prettiest valleys of the southern Black Forest. From idyllic vineyard villages in the sheltered valley (the vines growing there are on the highest slopes of Germany) to the mountains, which range to over 3280 ft., the countryside along the small river Glotter offers an interchangeable scenic experience.
This is a Mecca for fans of cuckoo clocks - and not just any clocks, but handmade cuckoo clocks. Not only can you enjoy clocks in every shape and size, but you can also visit the largest cuckoo clock in Germany and see the incredible craftsmanship that goes into making the many figures on the clock housing.
How people in the Black Forest lived and worked in the last 400 years can be experienced by visiting the Open Air Museum. Several typical farmhouses originating from the 16th-18th centuries were dismantled at their initial locations and reconstructed here in their original state. Inside you will see the living rooms, bedrooms, and stables and farmyard implements.
Want the recipe for authentic Black Forest Cherry-Cake?
If you would like to know how to experience the Black Forest on your next vacation, contact me and I can help you plan the trip of a lifetime!
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