My journey to Germany started off with a morning where nothing went right … I woke up at 4:30am after a terrible night of sleep but managed to get out the door by 5am. I had to walk to Wimbledon Station and it was fine when I started out but after about 3 mins of walking it started POURING with rain. I was thinking of calling a taxi as I was now carrying my heavy bag in the rain but couldn’t find my mobile! I was completely soaked by the time I got there. Then I tried to pick up my prepaid ticket but couldn’t because 1. I couldn’t find my travel card which you need to insert to prove you paid for it and 2. The machines were both frozen! I was starting to panic as time was running out before my train was leaving so I ended up just jumping on the train with no ticket!! Got a new ticket at the changing station but still couldn’t find my travelcard. Got to the airport but it was super slow going check-in and going through security which meant I was rushed getting onto the plane! I slept most of the way on the plane and landed in Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg. I had missed the bus into Freiburg by 10 mins so had to wait around for 50 mins!!!
BUT once I got on the bus my day turned around. It was a nice relaxing ride into Freiburg and once I orientated myself and bought a map I was on my way. Was able to store my luggage at the train station and then walked into the middle of the town. The map had a suggested walking route which I followed which took me past all the main buildings. Freiburg was such a lovely town – there were no cars in the main section of town just pedestrian streets and trams going everyway. I was a little scared of crossing the roads at first as there were so many trams but the locals were just running out in front of them I was surprised no one got hit! The buildings in Freiburg were all very beautiful – big windows and window shutters, window boxes with flowers, tile murials on the footpath, narrow winding streets, so many cafes and shops and all the buildings all painted so colourfully! The Munster cathedral was so big and in the middle of the town in an open square with cobblestones and market stalls in the mornings (they were just packing away by the time I got there) Went inside and it felt just as big as it looked – so many stain-glass windows and organ music playing.
I walked around and went in a few shops and had a coffee then met up with Christiane at Apotheke at the Bertholdsbrunnen which was a busy tram intersection and apparently ‘the meeting place’ in Freiburg – and it was – there were so many people standing at every corner. Christiane found me and it was so great to see her!! After the initial excitement of being in FREIBURG with CHRISTIANE she showed me an undercover food-hall with all sorts of cuisines and then we went to a traditional German restaurant which had a great atmosphere and was rather busy. Christiane translated the menu for me and I chose a dish which was lentils, these German noodles and sausages!! It was an enormous meal and we laughed once it was in front of me as it was just so much food!! I could only eat half of it but it was delicious!! We drove back to Christiane’s house – it was a short 10 min drive – she is in an amazing location … top floor of a beautiful house which faces directly towards the black forest! We sat and drank herbal tea and had dark chocolate and marzipan and chatted until late about L’Abri and everything that had been happening since we had met at L’Abri.
The next morning Christiane left early for work so I slept in and then had breakfast of tea and bread with various spreads overlooking her beautiful view. Tried to find my travel card by unpacking all my luggage but had no luck. Checked my emails, read my book then went on a walk which Christiane had recommended which went up to the entrance of the forest, through the trees and then down a gorge with a stream on one side. The walk was so pretty – the trees were just so tall and straight and it was a much cooler and damp temperature. Christiane came home and we had a vegetable curry for lunch. In the afternoon we caught the tram into Freiburg and walked around the streets and Christiane showed me places that my map had not mentioned like cute cafes, small streams and nice open plazas. It made such a difference going around with a local who could tell me all about the buildings and lifestyle in Freiburg. We had dinner at the international food hall but I again had German food: German noodles baked with cheese and leek, again delicious and filling. It was so busy – everyone standing around tall round tables and eating and there was a live band playing blues music which added to the atmosphere. On the way home we stopped at a supermarket and bought some food and wine. That night we looked at all our L’Abri photos and swapped them on our computers. It was fun laughing at the funny ones and remembering again all the fun times.
We had a sleep in on Saturday and spent the morning having a long relaxing breakfast of porridge made from blended buckwheat, banana and apple, bread with goats cheese and jam, ‘bretzels (soft pretzels which were amazing!) oranges, coffee but made from grains but tasted like coffee. It was all very different but yummy and it was nice just enjoying a long slow breakfast, chatting away and enjoying the view. We then went into the city to the Augustine Museum which had been reopened in 2010. There was a special exhibition on the Polesia region of the Ukraine – all about their culture and traditional way of life which is still the way they live now. I had a little book which had all the English translations of the displays which made it easier. I loved the traditional clothing and footwear and household items but they also had furniture and tools and so many photos. They had a short film showing the photographers going in and experiencing the world of the Polesia people. (at the end there was a funny line from that the Polesia lady said – about the photographers leaving – ‘We will miss you for 3 or 4 days, we got used to having you around.’) After seeing the exhibition we went and had a coffee break at a café called ‘Manna’ which very trendy. Then we tackled the museum. It was a cool mix of things to see – the top floor was all about the Black forest, so paintings of the forest or paintings by people from the Black Forest region. Then the rest of the museum held relics, paintings etc from the Muster Cathedral. From the 3rd floor you could look out over a balcony and on the 2nd floor sticking out from the wall were 8 ‘water spitters’ which were horizontal statues of gargoyles and animals. They were called water spitters because they had an open half pipe which caught the rain from the drain and it ran off the statues faces. You could also see down to the 1st floor which had 6 extremely large statues of some of the apostles and saints. It just looked really cool seeing the different levels. The ground floor had lots of religious scene paintings and a treasury with lots of gold and gemstone relics. We spent 4 hours in there but the time just flew – it didn’t feel like it! That night we went to Christiane’s Aunt and Uncle’s house for dinner. They were both so lovely and welcoming and spoke English for the whole night for me. It was a lovely night and it was great to hear their stories as they had been missionaries in Uganda. Back at Christiane’s we had another late night – more talking, tea and marzipan!
Sunday morning we woke up to snow!! Out the window the view had completely changed – the forest had a light dusting of snow and it had settled on the street and houses and looked so pretty! It was still lightly snowing while we had breakfast and when we drove into Freiburg. We went to Christiane’s Church– the service was all in German but I recognised the melody of 2 songs so I sang along in English. It was funny – even though it was in a completely different language and country the service was so similar to back in Australia, the announcements on the screen, the worship band, the welcome and few jokes at the start, the way they introduce the speaker by asking them a few serious and then funny questions. I met a few of Christiane’s friends but we didn’t stay too long as we had to get changed (ie put on thermals and more layers) and had a quick lunch at a Turkish place around the corner – an amazing felafel wrap – and then we caught the train up to the to middle of the black forest! The ride took about 30 mins and we took with us Christiane’s red toboggan!! As we ascended the snow got thicker and at our stop there was just SO MUCH SNOW! We walked down to Lake Titisee – and it was mostly frozen over! (there was a small section where all these ducks were crammed in) it was so beautiful. At the Museum yesterday we had seen a painting of the lake in summer but it looked completely different. We walked for about 4kms along the lake and then up through the forest to the next town and station. It was such a winter wonderland – so beautiful and also so still and quiet. We did a practice toboggan ride down a small side path – mainly for me as the last time I was in a toboggan was a long time ago. (two young boys apparently shouted in German ‘boring’ as I went down this tiny incline and Christiane had to explain that I was Australian and not an experienced tobogganer) It was so nice walking in fresh white and soft snow and pulling the toboggan behind. There were a few people we saw who were also walking or cross country skiing which looked fun. When we got to the next snow village we asked directions to a good tobogganing hill and then we spent about ½ hour going down this massive hill – together on the toboggan at first and then I tried myself but was terrible at steering. It was such a fun afternoon!! We then had a warm drink at a cute looking chalet with an open fire before catching the train back. There were so many people there with their skis who had obviously just caught the train up to go skiing for the afternoon. That night we called Cait in Chicago and had a quick talk to her and then looked at more photos. I had such an amazing time in Freiburg with Christiane – I hope she comes to visit me soon!