A miracle happened. As you all know, Fil came home for a week around Halloween but was due to go back to the Norway. He was due to leave on a Sunday, and I somehow convinced him to come away with us to the Black Forest Friday through Saturday. Most of the day Friday I could tell he regretted it. At that point he still did not know where nor when to meet on Sunday for his flight and was anxious it would get moved up while we were 3 hours from home. Around 4 pm, just as we came down from the mountain waterfall, Fil got a call and relaxed. They had it covered and he could stay home with us! Now, fully relaxed we really enjoyed our little getaway to the land of smoked ham, chocolate cake, and cuckoo clocks.
It is one thing that I love about where we live, and one thing I will supremely miss in 2 months when we are no longer here. The fact that I can get in my car and drive for one hour and be in another country with different customs, food, design, and people is a blessing. Not only that, but within just a few hours in the other direction, although still in Germany, I can be in a vastly different land. This time we visited the Black Forest, and it may as well have been a different country. The mountains and forest were dark and enchanting and the unique architecture set it apart from any other place we have been.
Below is an image of Vogtsbauernhof, a traditional farm house of the Schwarzwald. An enormous building with 3-4 levels that included the animal barn and family housing. The roof was about 10 inches thick of densely bundled hay and covered the whole building including walkway spaces around the perimeter. I was in love. I absolutely love dark buildings and hope to one day own a home with wood shingles that I can paint a deep green. No paint here, but same effect. Dark, mysterious, and beautiful.
Our first stop in the forest was to the Triberg waterfall. With a 163 meter descent in elevation it is one of the largest in Germany. At nearly 3 times as high as Niagra Falls, it does not share the notoriety. The falls bends and hops along an indirect path so it almost seems like a bunch of falls together in one area. It didn’t take my breath away, but it was a fun little outing that I think we all enjoyed.
To take that picture Fil had to fiddle a minute with the camera and wait for some others to get out of the frame, and Brock lounged out waiting for Daddy. Once again proving he is a ham:
In this next picture two things are happening. 1. Poppy is proving that it is ALL birds that she likes to chase as she tries to tear away towards the ducks and geese in the pond next to the playground; and 2. Fil is answering his phone to hear the good news mentioned in the beginning of this blog.
Before heading to the hotel we bopped around town a little bit in Triberg. Here we found the Haus of 1000 Clocks and tried to decide which one we wanted. We agreed that we preferred the hunter style which doesn’t have a house and people, but rather leaves, birds, and prey around the clock-face. Cuckoo clocks are made right there in the Black Forest, and actually also made right in store. There was a workbench where you can watch a crafter hand carve the pieces. Fil especially liked the one below, at just under €4,000 it was a little out of our price range. We ended up not picking one. Fil’s rational persuaded me that we didn’t really need one and it would inevitably end up broken and in a box in the attic. I’m still not convinced and may order one anyways. 😉
Once again I hit it out of the park with my hotel selection. We stayed at the charming country Dorer Haus up in the mountains. So far up in fact that there were literal piles of snow on the street corners left from a recent plow that had not yet melted! I was not expecting that at all and Brock was thrilled. The hotel has been around for over 100 years and is a hot spot for mountain hiking. Nowadays they are known to have an excellent restaurant. Coupled with the fact that Poppy was allowed in the hotel, the restaurant reviews were the reason I booked the hotel. What a find! Our room was large, and beautifully decorated in the German folk style. The pool & sauna before dinner were delightful, but then dinner blew us away. We opted for the 5 course meal with gefilte fish, foie gras with truffle shavings, lobster bisque with crawfish, beef medallion with house made noodles, and goat cheese creme brulee all paired with wines. We were celebrating and I honestly think that was the best meal we have had in Europe. This was the most relaxing stay we have had. Hands down.
Saturday morning we enjoyed yet another fine meal for breakfast and then went to the Schwarzwalder Freilichtmuseum, the Black Forest open air museum. Local friends, I highly recommend this outdoor museum for a family trip! It is all based around the Vogtsbauernhof, the farmhouse I pictured above. It is the only building that is on its original site. All the other buildings were disassembled from lands around the Black Forest and rebuilt there. Each building had a different purpose, and we were able to walk (with Poppy) throughout all of them. We learned about traditional crafts, and ways of life in the black forest prior to modern conveniences. Aside from farming, we also learned about baking, brewing, beekeeping, smithing, milling of wood, grains, and oils, and the making of charcoal. In concept it was very similar to the Zaanse Schans that I wrote about in Beautiful Holland, but this one was much more enjoyable as a complete family.
Oh and Fil and I died a little on the inside. There was one modern building that had a staged home that you could walk through and learn what life was like in the 1980’s. You read that right. Our birth decade is now shown to students as “life in the past” with relics like analog television, Atari game consoles, and lack of “modern” conveniences. We both left that one a bit sadder as we could almost feel our age catching up with us.
Fil and I learned quite a bit and enjoyed reading the placards and exploring each building. Brock’s attention was held by the hands on activities and animals on site. Poppy had an absolute hoot walking with us and squaring off with the roosters that wandered freely near the picnic and playground area.
Naturally, when one is in the Black Forest one must try Schwarzwalder kirschtorte, Black Forest cake/ Black Forest Cherry Torte. Just as we reached the end of the park Brock began to tire. I convinced him to keep walking back because we would be taking a break and have cake. He went from begging to be carried to running towards the café in an instant! This boy likes his chocolate cake… just not this one in particular. I felt a little bad that he didn’t like it but shook it off.
After our cake break we had just a few buildings left to explore. We watched a demonstration on how to make brushes using animal hairs, and then learned about traditional holiday clothing for the region. Apparently, the traditional hats for women on Sundays and holiday were quite specific to just a few villages but after being showcased in a hugely popular film in the 1950’s they now are used as symbol of the entire Black Forest. I present to you the bollenhut, a special holiday hat worn by women after they have been confirmed. Red bobbles for unmarried women, black for married. I will let you form your own opinion as to why the color changes upon marriage. 😉
Our Black Forest getaway was quick, but so enjoyable. The relaxation provided by circumstance of the change in Fil’s travel and the atmosphere of our hotel was just what we needed. The museum was much better than I expected and we had an absolutely lovely day there. Both kids had so much fun they were asleep within 10 minutes of getting in the car and slept the 3.5 hours home. Perfection.
Still no updates on our move. For now we are focusing on spending time with our friends here and prepping as much as we can. Now I will leave you with part of the chime from the world’s largest cuckoo clock. It was a 3 story building and I didn’t even realize it was a clock. The store sells clocks, but when it started chiming at the hour I fumbled to get my phone out and capture a few seconds.