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Monday, 31 March 2008

Freiburg The Green Capital of Black Forest





In April 2006 we went to Freiburg for the first time. My wife, myself and our son Alexander, who at that time was living in Basel (switzerland) travelled by train. He had been to Freiburg many times and was enamored of the city and wanted very much that we go there together. We went by train and were there in one hour. I think it is about 45-50 kilometers from Basel to Freiburg by train.

Freiburg is known for its world famous university. But Freiburg is also known for its cherry & chocolate cakes, Kaas Patzle (noodles covered with cheese), trout and asparagus and cukoo clocks. As a young boy I had read German history and culture but when it came to knowing anything about Schwarzwald ( Black Forest), I had always imagined it to be really a black forest, dense and cold and shrouded in dank fog and rain. A place where sun's rays never penetrated the forest.

The tribes which inhibited this part of Germany, the Rhine Valley, were constantly at war with Rome and refused to accept the rule of Roman empire. Augustus, Tiberius and Claudius failed to bring the tribes under control of Rome. His brother Gaius, fatther of brutal Caligula had gained the title of Germanicus for bringing some German tribes under control but I think it was a Roman General named Varus, who had fought them before, had lost three Roman Eagles ( Heralds with Eagles embossed on banners and shields and poles) carried by Roman soldiers in war. This was a great shame for Rome as without conquering German tribes, they could not march on to England. Although two Eagles were eventually recovered by Rome, the third was lost for ever. I suspect that the Eagle on German flag is that same Eagle. I have to do some research on the subject, but this is what I remeber from my school days.

Freiburg is the capital of Black Forest, a verdant city indeed. The day we went there, it was sunny and very warm. I would say a hot day. The city was full of visitors. We came out of the railway station and crossed the road and were in the city. We bought some baguettes at the corner supermarket as we were hungry. Then we entered the city center. The street which leads to the center is long and narrow, shops and restaurants on both sides and a narrow canal "Buttergasse" running in the middle of the street. This canal, we found out later, runs through the whole city. Imagine a stream of cold clear water running through a city, a rare sight nowadays. I just slipped off my shoes and sat down with my feet in the running water. What a refreshing feeling it was, it uplifted my spirits.

As we progressed towards the center, we came to a plaza, with restaurants and people sitting in the sunshine, eating and drinking. I had the feeling I was in Malaga or in Paris on a summer's day. The place was full of teeming visitors, young and old and when we reached the center, we saw street musicians playing, a young girl painting and another juggling dumb bells in her hands. The shops were full of people and so were places selling food. A wide variety of good food on display.

We plunged in the lanes and squares of the city. We first went to the Muenster Platz and the flower and fruit market and took some photos of Muenster Cathedral. There was a marriage ceremony taking place so we went to Augustin Platz, then to Colombin Park. Every body was eating ice cream so our son took us to a restaurant which is famous for fresh fruit juices and ice cream. Next to it was a Japanese antique shop with a wonderful collection of Japanese art. Later we went back to the Muenster Platz and bought some fruit. The wedding party was still there, bride and bridegroom were on the verge of emerging outside when it started to rain. But it did not last long and things brightened up.

Freiburg being a university town, was full of students. It is full of historic monuments, museaums, plazas and streets and full of fast food shops, bars and restaurants. We found that the price of food and drink was not expensive, comparing the prices in other German cities.

From the city center you take a Tram to Guensterstal and take a Cable Car tour of the surrounding mountains and the deep valley in the middle of Schauinsland mountains. A breathtaking trip, favorite with hikers, mountain bikers and skiers in winter. We sat down on the terrace of a restaurant and I had one and then another glass of Weiss Beer, the thick dusky white beer made from wheat.

By the time we were back in the city, we were hungry and tired and our son suggested we go and eat pizza. But my wife and me were keen on eating fish, so went in a restaurant and had grilled trout and potatoe salad. Our son had noodles baked with cheese. The nearest thing to eating a pizza. Also we wanted to eat the food for which Freiburg is famous.

We liked Freiburg very much and on a later date when I visited my son in Basel, we went to this fabulous city once again. In all I have been there three times.
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