Last Day in the Black Forest

Today was our last day in the Black Forest for this trip. We woke up to a beautiful, sunny day that was significantly cooler than the last couple of days. Again, we ate breakfast at the hotel and then went out to check out a couple shops that had been closed on Sunday. In particular, I wanted to visit a wine shop near our hotel and purchased a bottle of Riesling from a Baden-Baden winery.

Checking out of the hotel turned out to be harder than we anticipated. Actually, the check-out process wasn’t the problem, but getting our BMW out of the parking garage was more difficult. We had paid for a parking card from the hotel, but how to use it wasn’t properly communicated at check-in. Just one of the challenges of not speaking the language! We were supposed to put the card in at the entrance instead of taking a ticket. We just understood that we needed to put the card in when we left…without that first step, the card didn’t work. Eventually, Brandon just paid the parking fee at the garage and we turned in the parking card to the hotel for a refund. Sometimes things don’t go as planned when traveling, and we are still learning how to go with the flow!

The highlight of the day was a trip to Mt. Merkur, which overlooks Baden-Baden. The climb up this 2000-foot summit was easy thanks to a funicular! When we reached the top, we discovered several paragliders taking off from the summit. It was fun to watch them get all of the gear ready, run down the hill, and start flying! While we were on Mt. Merkur we also climbed to the top of the observation tower and ate some lunch at the restaurant. Then it was time to ride the funicular down the summit and drive the three hours back home.

We really enjoyed our weekend in the Black Forest, and now we have just a few days before our “big” summer trip to Norway!! I will probably need every minute between now and Thursday to get ready!

As usual, you can see all of our pictures here.


July 4th in Baden-Baden

Brandon and I spent the 4th of July in Baden-Baden, Germany. It wasn’t a typical celebration of America’s Independence, but that is practically impossible when you live outside of the United States and you don’t stay close to the military installation. Luckily, the Germans love to be outside in the summer, and we found a local fest to enjoy.

As usual, we started the day with breakfast in the hotel. Then we set out on the self-guided walk in the Rick Steves’ guide book. We started at the Casino. Somehow, we forgot our passports at home this trip, so we couldn’t go in to gamble, so we just stepped into the lobby. Brandon would also have needed a tie, coat & collared shirt to get in much farther…it’s a pretty fancy place!


Next we checked out the Trinkhalle before walking up to the Catholic Church and the Marktplatz.


The spas were close by and we were able to experience some spa water at Fettquelle (“rich water source”). The water was 105 degrees! This was as close as we got to the spas this trip. There are two Baths to experience in Baden-Baden, the Roman-Irish Bath is traditional (read: nude) while the Baths of Caracalla are modern (read: swimsuit). Somehow we both forgot our swimsuits and there was no way Brandon would enter a nude bath! I’m thinking a visit to the baths might make a great girls weekend in the winter…


The walking tour ended at Lichtentaler Allee, a 1.5 mile promenade alomst the Oosbach river. Brandon and I walked the entire path, stopping to watch some tennis at the Tennis Club and to smell the roses in the Rose Garden. Walking along Lichtentaler Allee was a popular activity this summer Sunday afternoon.

Lichtentaler Allee

After our stroll, we went back to the Casino where there was a Sommernächte Festival being held with various restaurants serving under tents and live music. We ate our lunch there and then headed back to the hotel for a little afternoon siesta and to get out of the sun. (Brandon and I are both sporting a bit more color than what we had at the beginning of the day!)

Sommernächte Fest

This evening, we ate dinner at a nice Italian restaurant before heading back to the Sommernächte Festival at the Casino. There was a Phil Collins cover band playing and it was lots of fun watching the Germans enjoy the music. We ended the night with some Eis. (Chocolate and Hazelnut is an awesome combination! Brandon tried the interesting combination of Peppermint and Caramel and seemed to like it.)

Despite the absence of fireworks, it was a pretty fun and memorable 4th of July!

To see more photos, check out my Picasa Photo Album.

Freiburg and the Black Forest

Our first full day in the Black Forest was sweaty!! There is no doubt that summer has arrived here in Germany and it is hot. While mid-80s doesn’t sound terrible, it is miserable when there is no air conditioning.

We started the day with breakfast at the hotel and then explored Freiburg a little. There aren’t a lot of tourist sights to visit, but we determined Freiburg would be a great place to live. We ran into a really nice weekly market with fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, etc. plus there was a wine festival around the cathedral this weekend. In addition, it was the Tag der Musik, so there were community bands playing at several locations. We checked out the cathedral, Münster, and then we headed for Schlossberg (Castle Hill). By now, you should know that we just can’t resist a big hill to climb, and this was no exception! The heat made the climb even worse, but we made it to the Fort d’Aigle at the top where there was a very enjoyable breeze and a great view. On our way down again, we stopped at the Greiffenegg Schlösse biergarten for lunch (where it took forever to get my putensteak!) before leaving Freiburg.

Weekly Market in Freiburg

Tag der Musik in Freiburg

Fort d'Aigle, Freiburg

From Freiburg, we took the “Extended Black Forest Drive” to get to Baden-Baden.We drove through Höllental (Hell’s Valley) to Triberg where we stopped to see Germany’s highest waterfall. We continued north through Freudenstadt and took the Schwarzwald-Hochstrasse into Baden-Baden. I think Brandon enjoyed driving on the twisting forest roads a bit too much, but the countryside was beautiful and it was nice to see this part of Germany from our air-conditioned BMW!

At the Triberger Wasserfälle

Once in Baden-Baden, we found our hotel and got settled in, which involved changing to a cooler room with better internet access. (We have our priorities!) As we arrived, it was pretty obvious that Germany had won against Argentina in the World Cup match. Cars were honking and tons of people were on the street in black, red, and yellow. We found a restaurant for dinner that was on a quieter street, but it was impossible to escape all of the celebrations! After dinner, we bought some Eis and headed back to the hotel so I could write a paper for my current class. I hate doing homework on vacation, but at least it is finished so we can enjoy a full day in Baden-Baden tomorrow!

To see all of our pictures, you can check out my Picasa Photo Album.

Almost Didn’t Happen…

Brandon and I are traveling again. Tonight I am writing this from Freiburg, Germany. We are exploring the Black Forest this weekend; however, we almost ended up sitting at home! I guess I learned that I can’t expect Brandon to plan weekend trips. He was complaining that we always go where I want to go…Paris for Spring Break, Norway for Block Leave. So, I told him to plan a trip to where he wanted to go for this weekend. As of Wednesday we still had nothing! I finally gave in yesterday and started looking at the Black Forest. The plan is to explore Freiburg tomorrow during the day and take a scenic drive up to Baden-Baden where we will spend the next two nights before driving home on Monday.

I was able to leave work a little early, so we got on the road around 5pm. It took us about 4.5 hours to drive to Freiburg tonight. (It should have only taken 4 hours, but we hit a stau and lots of construction during the last hour.) At the hotel, the receptionist looked at me very strangely when I said we had a reservation. Then, we realized that I had booked for tomorrow night instead of tonight!  Luckily, there were still had rooms available at the Park Hotel Post! We just have to pay an extra €10 and the reserved parking is full so our car is on the street. After the long drive we are just relaxing in the hotel tonight and we will see the city tomorrow, including a wine festival! Check back for updates. 🙂