A Trip to the Black Forest

Europeans like to discover North America — the “New World” — whereas Americans like to visit the “Old World” — Europe.

In the heart of Europe lies Germany, the mother country of Condor.

Europe is a multicultural country with many different manners, customs and languages, so when you arrive at Frankfurt Airport you always find someone who speaks your language.

Years ago, I heard a lady asking a hostess: “Is the Black Forest still open?”

I was confused at first; later, I understood. The Black Forest is no park, it’s a region in the southwest, bordering on France and Switzerland. It’s renowned by the dark forests of fir trees.

On the way to the Black Forest, you pass Heidelberg with a beautiful castle, built around 1400, with a mix of styles from Gothic to Renaissance, overlooking the city that has the oldest universities. The hall and the courtyard of the castle is nowadays still used for festivities.

Further south, you pass Ludwigsburg with one of Germany’s largest 18th century baroque palaces (now a museum); two smaller palaces, the “Favorite” and “Monrepos”; and an enormous baroque garden.

Passing Stuttgart, you could either drive on the Autobahn or along the river valley Neckar.

If you like castles, there is “Hohenzollern” close by Hechingen, a famous tourist attraction. The first part of the castle originates from the 12th century. It is still used to accommodate Berlin’s poor children for holidays and for exhibitions, concerts and stage performances.

Back on the road again to the heart of the Black Forest, we pass Donaueschingen, where the creeks Brigach and Breg create the river Donau.

Twenty kilometres south is Blumberg, a cozy little village surrounded by forests.

From there, you can hike the 30-kilometre-long “Wutachschlucht”, a deep canyon where the creek Wutach runs and where you can feel the deep-settled melancholy.

All over the Black Forest, the hiking tracks are very well marked and maintained.

In Blumberg also starts the Wutach Valley Railway, also called “Sauschwänzlebahn” (pigtail train), because of the twisting route. On every stop you can board or disembarck and go hiking.

Close by are two beautiful lakes, the “Titisee” and the “Schluchsee”, both popular resorts in winter and summer.

Then there is the Feldberg. At 1,483 metres, it’s the highest mountain in the Black Forest. It’s popular all through the year, in winter for skiing and in summer for hiking.

If you are tired of hiking, you could drive to Schaffhausen to see the “Rheinfall” or to the Lake of Constance, the “Bodensee”, to Unteruhldingen to visit the open-air museum. The stilt houses are from Neolithic Stone Age and Bronze Age.

A few more kilometres away is Meersburg, a charming medieval city with two castles, an old one, 7th century, and a new one, 18th century, and many half-timbered houses and two medieval town gates.

From Meersburg you can take the car ferry across the lake to Constance. Close by is the lower island “Mainau” with a palace and a park landscape and a greenhouse with tropical climate and thousands of butterflies.

On the way back to Frankfurt, you should drive via Freiburg, an old and famous university city with a medieval cathedral and in the heart of the wine-growing region. The wine from the “Kaiserstuhl” is excellent and worth tasting as well as many other local specialities such as the Black Forest ham, and the very rich Black Forest Cake (chocolate cake with cream, sour cherries and Kirsch).

There is also the “Flammkuchen” made with ham, cheese and cream, similar to a pizza.

The last highlight is Baden-Baden, the most beautiful of the German bath towns with 2,000-year-old ruins of Roman baths, a spa garden, two spas and a famous theatre, two castles (the old castle from the 12th century, now a ruin, and the new one from the 15th century, now a historical museum) and a casino.

A few kilometres away is Iffezheim, famous for horse racing in August.

If you have a few € left, how about visiting the casino and spend them there. If you are lucky and win, you could fly home with all expenses paid with your winnings. Good luck!

This story has been entered in the Foreign Correspondent Contest and could earn the writer a round-trip, for two, to Frankfurt, Germany, courtesy of Condor Airlines. See the Contest Guidelines at old.whatsupyukon.com.

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