Posts tagged Black Forest

Like Clockwork

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The bizarre crucifixion clock

As if we hadn’t had enough of clocks already our trip today was to the German Clock Museum in Furtwangen. This was absolutely fascinating, starting with a cuckoo clock that morbidly depicts the crucifixion scene every hour on the hour. That’s a lot of stabbing and nailing! We learned a lot, especially about the history of time keeping.

Apparently it was common practise for neighbouring towns to have different time measurements (10 hours to a day here, 12 there etc), and some even changed the length of hours as the seasons changed. The museum provides a free booklet in English with all the information you need for a visit.

On our way to Blumberg we made a spontaneous stop at the Rothaus brewery. Unfortunately it was closed, being Sunday, apart from the shop where we bought our very first keg of German beer. 5 delicious litres of weissbier for the bargain price of €10! Be sure to read the instructions (or little pictures for us non-German speakers) before using it as you may end up, like us, spraying the inside of your van with a coating of white foam!

Cuckoomania

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Clocks for sale

Our morning adventure was a spontaneous trip to the Vogtsbauernhof (Black Forest Open Air Museum), a charming village of sorts containing local houses from different periods, some of them relocated many miles, brick by brick, to the site. Inside you learn how people lived in those days, and can also watch as craftsmen (and women) create products from the times. We almost bought a little whistle which had a dancing couple that spun when you blew it, until we realised that it would be pretty useless except for attracting randy ducks.

There are quite a number of houses on the site, and you have to have a good attention span to take everything in. I started to get bored after the eighth one, especially when so many of them are based on the same working model. There are only so many farming implements in the loft one can see before the novelty wears off!

The hotel Pfaff is beautiful

On our way towards Triberg we stopped to see a giant cuckoo clock, one of several in the area. This is cuckoo clock country. Every few miles you see signs for “the house of 1000 cuckoo clocks”, though I doubt anybody has bothered to count them. They range from cheap and tacky clocks for a few euros to several thousand for gorgeous hand carved versions. Triberg is famed for its waterfall, but was far too touristy for our liking hence we only stopped for a very short visit.

Schweet Schiltach

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Another day, another picturesque village in the Black Forest, this time Schiltach. An abundance of historical museums dot the town. The timber museum is free (for dogs too) and gives an interesting insight into how the area accumulated its wealth by bringing trees down the river from the surrounding hills. They have ample information in English available and a very friendly English-speaking guide on site ,who was ever so keen to tell me all about his 10 years of living in London in the 60’s. The apothecary museum costs €2 per person (but no dogs allowed). It has several rooms full of torturous looking devices and evil medicines. It is astonishing to think that DDT was once used as a human delousing hairspray! The museum is on the site of a pharmacy built in the 1800s and is neatly preserved in its original state. The sweet little old lady that takes your entrance fee directed me from one contraption filled room to another with much gusto, even when I was clearly yawning with disinterest after five rooms of objects had been closely scrutinized.

There are many culinary delights to try in the Black Forest. We picked up some lardons made from Black Forest pigs in the local metzgerei (butcher) and used them in a couple of dishes. Mmm, tasty! They also make delicious beersticks (smoked sausages) which David is always trying to buy in large quantities.  I have to watch him closely! We have found that meat is very cheap in Germany, especially pork products. They also have a huge range of interesting breads. At long last, after so many white baguettes, our digestive systems are enjoying the health benefits of unrefined foods. Sadly we weren’t so enamoured with Black Forest Gateau which proved to be very sugary and sadly lacking in cherries and chocolate. You can never have too many cherries and chocolate!

Into the Black Forest

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We have made a surprising discovery. Germany seems to be allergic to visa. Shops don’t accept visa debit or credit cards. The petrol stations do, however, and you are able to draw cash out of some ATMs but not all of them. I think this is a nationwide aversion to the heavy charges that you have to pay when accepting cards of any sort. It does mean that we have to travel with a much larger sum of money than usual to cover grocery and beer bills.

We wound our way through the Black Forest to Gengenbach, a photogenic medieval town. It is like something straight out of a movie set with cuckoo clocks, black forest gateau in abundance and gabled roofs at every turn. Almost every town in the Black Forest follows this magical formula. We ventured on to Sasbachwalden to be greeted by the same imagery. A fantastic starting point for walks, we discovered hilly terrain crisscrossed with forests and vineyards. A steep climb led us up a tumbling waterfall shrouded by green leafy woods. At the top we were rewarded with seeing our very first reindeer.

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