Freiburg, The Black Forest & Europa Park
Freiburg is idyllically situated between the Kaiserstuhl region and the Rhineland Plains to the west and the valleys and the mountains of the Black Forest to the East. On our second day in Freiburg, we took the “double decker” train to explore the scenic region of the Black Forest stopping en routeat amazing places such as Titisee, Donaueschingen, Triberg and Offenberg before returning back to Freiburg.
We all know the Black Forest Cake which comes from this region and like the cake which consists of several layers of chocolate cake with whipped cream and cherries between each layer, the region itself is a wooded mountain range (like the chocolate cake) interspersed by the waterfalls and crystal clear lakes (like the whipped cream) and the lovely towns and attractions of the region add up to make the cherries.
Amongst the 8 rivers of the area, it is the Danube which rises in the Black Forest and of the 8 mountain ranges, it is Feldberg which is the highest of them all standing tall at 4900 feet. The entire Black Forest belongs to the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and the forest comprises of pine and fir trees with scenic hills in between offering an active traveller longdistance walks or treks, mountain biking as well as cross-country skiing during the winter months.
The city of Freiburg is the best hub to explore this region although if you want to stay right in the midst of the Black Forest you have a choice of over 12 lovely towns (the cherries on the cake) where you can stay in some very romantic and countryside hotels – a delight for honeymooners and nature lovers too.From clock museums to wine routes to cycling paths as well as specialized routes like the German Clock road, there are more ways than one to explore this wonderful region. We chose the train to see the countryside and it offers you the option of getting off at any of the towns on this scenic route.
We traversed lakes in enchanted valleys, luxurious meadows bordered by the dark forest. As we crossed the charming Dreisam River Valley, we soon approached Hoellental or Hell Valley where the walls of the rocks rise steeply up to 600 metres high which makes the Hell Valley one of most impressive valleys of the region.Today the route through Hoellenthal is an important connecting road from the Rhine Plain into the southern Black Forest. You can see stunning scenery on your way – whether in spring, summer, autumn, winter or even on a rainy day.
Further on, we saw an interesting Stag statue perched atop a mountain in a leaping posture. Known as the Stag Leap, this was the narrowest part of the valley. The bronze statue denotes that this is the place where the stag and similar species used to leap across the gorge to save themselves from being hunted down.
We stopped for a short break at Breitnau, which is half way between Freiburg and Titisee. Here you find the Hotel HofgutSternen which has seen celebrities like Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe and Princess Marie Antoinette taking a break and claims to have the largest cuckoo clock in the world. We then headed to the picturesque town of Lake Titisee, an Ice Age glacier lake lying at the foothill of Mount Feldberg – the highest mountain in the Black Forest. Titisee is famous for shopping especially for cuckoo clocks and has a wide variety of restaurants.
Our next stop was at Donaueschingen, known throughout the world as the site of the Danube Spring and for its annual festivals of contemporary music and equestrian championships held during late summer. For beer lovers, a visit to the town is a must as a famous local beer known as Fuerstenberg is brewed here. Besides the Danube Bicycle Trail, Donaueschingen also has 18 and 9-hole golf courses, a 16th century Fuerstenberg Palace and a park alongside.Here is also the Danube Bike Trail – a classic bike route with superb stages along the Danube and a trail that extends up to Passau in Bavaria and beyond.
Approximately 45 minutes away you have Europe’s biggest waterfall at Schaffhausen in Switzerland. Then there is the spa garden and bathing cum therapy centre of Solemar at Bad Deurrheim where you can float in salt water and experience a Black Forest sauna with therapeutic treatment.
Lake Constance – one of Germany’s largest lakes located on the Austrian-Swiss border is just 80 kilometres away and en route you can visit some quaint villages and small towns such as Meersburg or the islands of Reichenau and Mainau.
The wine growing region of Kaiserstuhl is also in close proximity and produces some top quality wines. The Kaiserstuhl lies between the Vosges and Black Forest mountain ranges.
Germany’s highest waterfall is in Triberg which is also known for the Black Forest clock maker industry.The cuckoo clock was founded here. There is also an interesting bike and walking path known as the Clock-Carrier Path which goes through Triberg.
The Black Forest is truly an adventure area,and whether it’s the spa town of Baden Baden, Leorrach – the city of voices, the Roman spa ruins of Badenweiler or the valley of 100 valleys in Meunstertal, there is lots to do.
We headed back that evening to Freiburg and we were looking forward to an exciting day ahead to visit the town of Rust and one of Europe’s largest theme parks – the Europa Park.
The town of Rust is an hour by bus from Freiburg and what was once a small fishing village now houses Germany’s largest leisure park. With the size which can accommodate more than 140 football fields, Europa Park offers boundless fun for the entire family.
I would recommend a 2 nights/3 days stay to explore one of the 13 European themed areas and you have a choice of four 4-star themed hotels.
Germany’s biggest theme park has as many as 10 roller coaster rides and the addition in 2009 was the new catapult-coaster which goes from 0 to 100 km/hr in 2.5 seconds with a 32 metres high loop and a full 360º roll, not once but 3 times and all in absolute darkness – not really for the faint-hearted. You will find this 1000-metre thrill ride in the themed area of Iceland. This state of the art rollercoaster has a seating which combines audio and special effects.
The other interesting roller coaster is the “Poseidon” water roller coaster in the Greece area which takes you between the sky and the sea. The Pegasus YoungSTAR coaster is for the younger visitors who do not want an extremely high-adrenaline experience at their age. The Matterhorn-Blitz in the Swiss area takes you through curves around mountains and valleys and the Silver Star which reaches speeds of 130 km/hr is also one not recommended for the faint-hearted.
Soon it was time for us to take the bus back to Freiburg. The next morning we bid adieu to one of the most beautiful regions of Baden-Wuerttemberg and to the last leg of our stay in Munich, Bavaria.