A new favourite

Trip Start Nov 15, 2005
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Trip End Aug 15, 2008


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Flag of Germany  ,
Monday, May 22, 2006

The worst hitching ever. I'll spare the agonising details, but after a long, long time by the side of the road (think something more than hours) I had to give in and get a rediculously expensive train out of Paris. In the end, it became worth it just to get out of the city!

Fortunately, Freiburg more than made the expense worthwhile. From what time I had there, it has become one of my favourite places worldwide. A small town, yet almost completely traffic free (a blessed relief after Paris), a testament to the eco-friendly German way of life. So many buildings have solar panels, there are wind turbines strategically located in (usually) not so visible areas and everyone rides bikes here! It makes such a change to be in danger of being run over by a cyclist that you didn't hear coming than a car that didn't care that you were there.
The town itself, oddly "twinned" with Guildford (and 7 other towns across the world), is an absolute pleasure to walk around. Small, but with so many impeccably restored buildings about the centre and such a great atmosphere; I spent many hours happily ambling around with no real aim in mind. A young, student town, there seems to be so much life here despite the size (or maybe because of it), always something happening. The mornings are best for 'window shopping' the fantastic local produce market - the stalls selling mediterranean style treats (olives, paprika stuffed with goats cheese, blackforest ham, that knid of thing) are so hard to resist, and the fruit and veg all seemed so wonderfully fresh. Can't say I was quite so tempted by the mounds of spargel, though - white asparagus, apparently it's spargel time! During the afternoons the cafe scene takes precedence, yet is wonderfully unpretentious, and the bakeries are fantastic! Not quite so pretty as the Parisian patisseries, perhaps, but far more satisfying. Indulging in an enormous slice of Black Forest cake actually in the Black Forest is something everyone should experience - they know how to do it right here! All it needs is a decent tea house and I would move here in an instant!

I mentioned the Black Forest - Freiburg is set in the middle of this beautiful area of Germany. Literally twenty minutes walk from the centre of town will take you well away from what little crowds there are into one of the most peaceful woodland area I've known. Not so dark as the name might suggest, just enough sunlight filters through the trees to keep you warm without baking you, lending itself so well to long hours of walking. There are so many paths, the chances of your solitude being interrupted are prertty minimal too. Where most forests don't lend themselves quite so well to spectacular views, the locals have got around this by strategically placing viewing towers throughout the place. I climbed three in the space of a day and a half of walking, and the views from the top of Schauinsland, a mountain a little way out of the centre and Rosskopf, all of two hours walk from town, were undeniably magnificent.

So a huge thank you to Gosia for allowing me to crash with you, and helping me explore this fantastic little corner of Germany! This is one place I know I'll definitely return to!
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