Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
One thing I’ve always admired about Titia is her adventurous spirit. She’s never waited for life to come to her, she’s always been actively engaged in seeking out activities and hobbies and choosing her own adventure. This morning, after seeing the children off to school, she packed the pair of us up and off we went to Bergwelt Schauinsland – Germany’s longest cable-car to the highest peak in Freiburg overlooking the city and the Rhine Valley. It takes 20 minutes to the top and runs on 100% green energy.
We almost had a car to ourselves but were joined at the last minute by a fellow Australian (seriously, we’re everywhere!) from Tamworth. It was a perfectly clear day which afforded us spectacular views all the way to the summit. Once there, Titia and I headed off in the direction of a cafe she knew. It looked more like a ski chalet displaced amongst the sunshine and greenery. In fact, it was positively warm up there and we were stripping off layers as we picked up pace to make it there and back in time to collect Clara from school. We paused for a very quick coffee before turning tail and very briskly hot-footing it back to the cable car.
We got a bus from the bottom all the way to Clara’s school where she was anxiously awaiting our overdue arrival. At 4 years old, she road her bike, without training wheels, all the way home! It’s not far but I was astounded to see someone so small so capable and confident! The fact that I can’t ride a bike makes it all the more impressive to me. Henrik made his own way home from his school which finishes for the day at lunch time.
We had a delicious lunch of maultaschen (like perogis) after which Henrik did his homework then called a friend to go play with and off he went. He’s so grown up and independent! When I last met him, he was just learning to speak which he did in a version of English familiar to me. Now he speaks mostly German and his English (which he has been switching to for my sake) is very Germanic (and flawless!). Little Clara speaks only German but it hasn’t stopped her talking to me or me to her though I’m not sure either of us really knows what’s going on.
Titia and Clara took me on a tour of Freiburg in the afternoon. The city is famous for its ancient university and medieval munster (church) and to this day is still an affluent and thriving university town. We visited the old town square and strolled its picturesque and well maintained streets lined with anything and everything you could want in a city. We stopped for ice-cream and roasted chestnuts and collected a few essentials including a replacement for my most recently confiscated bottle of contact lens solution.
We met Henrik back at the house to prepare for our evening adventure – a walk into the Black Forest to a small restaurant for dinner. The coolest part of the plan though was to be the walk back home lit only by torches! Titia warned me that it was a bit of a hike – she wasn’t kidding! I had wrongly assumed that if the children could do it, so could I not considering that this is their natural terrain and I am a comparatively unfit flat path walker. It did occur to me that this was karmic retribution for making my mum walk up the steps to Sacre Coeur in Paris.
After much huffing and puffing through increasingly steep and wooded paths, we arrived at a clearing where the restaurant stood and ordered a beer, a big German one! Dinner was equally as ample. I ordered spatzle which turned out to be a bit like macaroni cheese – it was delicious and massive!
Night fell as we dined. By the time we finished, it was well and truly clear where the Black Forest got its name – the darkness was impenetrable. Bring on the torches! Now you may be imagining flashlights, as I did, but you would be wrong, as I was. No, we weren’t going into the forest with mere batteries and plastic – oh no, we had actual fire on sticks! Naked flames to light our way through the wilderness! How cool is that?!
This was proper adventure and it wasn’t just for fun either. I’m telling you, that forest is black, blacker than black! Even with the torches, it was difficult to see much more than a handspan ahead. Henrik led the charge and I have to say, was an excellent guide pointing out various obstacles like tree roots that may very well have been my undoing had he not illuminated them for me. I don’t mind admitting that there were some steeper parts where I was actually a little bit frightened but deliciously so!
We eventually got back on a paved path with light from houses starting to brighten the way and lead us back home where we doused the lights and ended our brilliant excursion. The children went to bed while Titia and I got to work on another bottle of red.
Without a doubt, today has been one of the best of the entire trip!