A long holiday weekend was approaching near the end of June, giving us a couple of extra days. Perfect for a trip to the Black Forest. Derek researched and planned the trip to the Schwarzwald (he is much better than I am at planning rural/mountain getaways). I think he found the most beautiful spot in the hills of the Southern Black Forest. We didn’t know much about the area, only that our guidebook told us the most dramatic elevation stretched east of Freiberg and down to the Swiss border. We knew that we wanted to be within a few km of Kandal, the highest point in the area, then looked at an elevation map to find the valley that looked most interesting and started looking for hotels in the area.
And that is how we ended up in Simonswald for a couple of days, a small rural gem with a church, a bakery, a town hall, and quite a few B&Bs! The Simonswalder valley was simply beyond words, the roads in the area wind through the valley for a drive that is completely enchanting. Similar to the formations we see near the Great Lakes, this valley was formed by glaciers. We arrived on Thursday afternoon with plenty of daylight to spare.
On our first day we hiked the hills south of Simonswald for a couple of hours and found ourselves immersed in the quiet forest.
The stories of the Black Forest were fresh in my memory as we hiked around, Grimm’s Fairytales: Snow White, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and of course Hansel and Gretel! The Grimm Brothers were from the state of Baden-Württemberg, home of the Schwarzwald. They traveled the area and took inspiration from the lore of the forest. The stories are now public domain; you can download an e-book of Grimm’s Brothers fairytales (free!) from Project Gutenberg.
Aside from having the vibe of a small traditional german inn, our pension Krone Post had a restaurant with a tasty menu of Schwarzwald specialties. They had fresh trout delivered (we saw the fish man with live trout in the back of his truck!). I ordered smoked trout with toast and horseradish sauce- delish! Also staying at the hotel was a lively motorcycle club from Cologne; There they are on the patio!
After dinner we drove to Kandal to watch the late sunset. Kandal is about 4000ft, and gave us a spectacular view of the western horizon.
Friday— Biking! We brought our bikes at the last minute and were glad we did. We biked the routes around Simonswald, and then into the eastern side of the valley to overlook the town. It was a cool and cloudy morning, perfect for a restorative morning ride.
Next, to Triberg, the city of Cuckoo Clocks and home of Germany’s longest waterfall. We got tickets to what Derek called the “waterfall themepark” and hiked to the top.
We couldn’t leave Triberg without a piece of schwarzwälder torte, Black Forest Cake: Chocolate, cherry, cream, and a little bit of schnapps.
On Saturday morning after breakfast at Krone Post, we made a stop in Freiberg, the capitol of the Schwarzwald, and walked through their cobbled old-town to the weekend market. Freiberg is about 30km from the French border, and aspects of French culture and restaurants were visible in this area.
A very cool part of Freiberg was the ground! The pavement is a mosaic of small stones. In front of the buildings were markers showing the type of establishment (historically) located within. Though the most interesting part might have been the Freiburg Bächle, canals/gutters that run alongside the roads. Historically (12th C.), they were urban fountains intended to direct fresh drinking water through the city, the water leaving the city was likely used to irrigate fields. We saw light wooden boats for sale at the market and children floating their boats in the canals. Here is a video of the canals.
A couple of days in the Black Forest and we were relaxed, rejuvenated, and also beat. When we returned to Würzburg I realized I had a fever of 103, and spent the next few days recovering!
You can read about the rest of June here!