Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Der Schwarzwald

So the impromptu visit of family provided some motivation to leave Stuttgart city limits, and what better way to spend a sick day than writing a blog post?

One of the more famous tourist attractions in Baden-Württemberg is the Black Forest (Schwarzwald). This region also has a delicious cake named after it, which obviously just makes it better. When I was initially planning the trip, I was immediately confronted with the problem that there was not too much to do in the Black Forest - it just seemed like something to drive through. I selected the "northern black forest" route, as per the guidebook, for logistical reasons as much as anything else. This route is a big circle from Stuttgart down to Freudenstadt, and up through the forest to Baden Baden. I don't know what I expected from the Black Forest, but it is really extremely hilly. Also there was far more snow than in Stuttgart, and the weather was also worse.

See the hills? I swear they're there, hiding in the clouds.
The hills and rivers and coniferous trees were vaguely reminiscent of Northern Alberta, only on an endearingly smaller scale. The highlight was the ruined abbey of Allerheiligen, a very Gothic spot at the bottom of a deep valley in the middle of nowhere. The monks, trying to exert some control over the natural environment, went to the trouble of paving the river bed in the immediate vicinity of the abbey. Apparently paved rivers were trendy in the region in days of yore: Baden Baden has one too, including paved waterfalls.

Allerheiligen: a waterfall. Unpaved.
Crocus lawn in Baden Baden - a dramatic contrast to the Black Forest just to the south
All in all, the Black Forest was better than expected. The whole region is full of hiking trails, and in the summer I'm sure it's a delightful escape from the city. As for the forest itself, it wasn't that special, but next time I'll take the valley route instead of the ridge road, and maybe get a better feeling for how this region managed to generate so many terrifying fairy tales.

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