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Published: December 15th 2013
A Winter Wonderland
as seen from our walk in the mountains near Freiburg.
We just had a wonderful one week trip to visit our dear friends near Freiburg, Germany. We had first met Angelika, Achim and their 3 children when we were only 26 years old back in Botswana! Fortunately our friendship has lasted over the years and distance. We have seen each other a few times since then, but the last time we saw them was 7 years for Achim and 13 years for Angelika. With friends like these that doesn’t matter as we were able to pick up right where we left off without any difficulty. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the children (who are now grown with families of their own) but we did get to see Gitti (Angelika’s sister) whom we have known for many years as well. Thanks to skype we did get to “see” and talk to Mariam and “met” her son Benedikt too. Hopefully next season when we visit northern Germany we may get to see her in person.
It was a very relaxing week with friends even though we also got to see and do quite a bit while in their corner of the Black Forest region of Germany. We were able to wake
Great Wood Sculptures
seen while on our walk in the mountains near Freiburg.
up every morning and look out at the mountains, buy fresh rolls for breakfast at the local bakery, have jam homemade by Achim from fruit in his garden with lovely cheeses & meats and then make plans for that day’s activities. What a way to start the day!
You can’t come to Germany in December and not go to the Weinachtsmarkt (Christmas Market). Angelika made sure we got to sample the potato pancakes served with applesauce, bratwurst (Bob’s favorite), roasted chestnuts and mulled wine (glühwein). What a treat to be back in Germany again at this time of year — it definitely helps to get you in the holiday spirit!
One of the first things we did was to travel up into the mountains to take a walk through the snow covered forest with amazing views of the Alps. Luckily we were able to get some walking in before the snow started and the wind began to howl. No matter what direction you looked, the scenes were beautiful. Nearby Angelika’s home is a hill with a large carving made from an enormous old maple tree. The carvings depict various biblical stories from the Old and New Testament. In
The Wind Was Howling
which Angelika & Bob were trying to demonstrate!
the photo it may look somewhat strange but there are plexiglass covers placed to protect it from the elements. The story goes that he has carved close to everything in his house and his wife can’t take any more so he is now placing his carvings in public areas for everyone to enjoy.
On Saturday morning we took the local bus and tram into Freiburg to check out the Münsterplatz (farmer’s market near the münster/cathedral in town). It was busy as usual with vendors selling everything from the traditional farm produce to hand made jellies and jams and the “must have” advent wreath. Bob found the vendor that sold the brockwort quite quickly and put his stamp of approval on them! We took the time to wander around the town of Freiburg checking out many of the narrow roadways and pathways with their bächle running through them. We heard two different stories about the origin of these narrow, 5in by 8in, water canals (bächle) — the first was that they were necessary for cleaning the streets from the food and rubbish that had been traditional thrown out of windows in medieval times. The other reason is that they were
It was great to get to see the Alps while on our walk in the mountains.
built throughout the town to help in fighting fires in medieval times. No matter the reason, the one story that holds strong is that if you step into any of these small water canals you will definitely marry a resident from Freiburg! Upon hearing this Bob looked around at the women walking by and told me that if I ever dumped his sorry old butt he’d be coming to Freiburg to step in the water canals. (now I wonder who put this line in??)
While we were out on Saturday morning, Angelika was busy making the advent wreath and decorating her home for the holidays. She did an excellent job of making it feel more like the holidays! It was perfect for the 1st
day of advent.
We ate very well during our week in Germany. Achim took us out to dinner at a lovely traditional German restaurant for an excellent meal. One of the things we love about restaurants in Europe is that there is no expectation that as soon as you have finished the meal you will be up and on your way. Once people sit down for a meal, they typically will be there for
Everywhere You Looked
was a beautiful winter view on our ride up into the mountains.
the entire evening and we were no exception. It is great to have plenty of time to digest your food without being rushed and have time for a leisurely visit. We hope this tradition never changes. Gitti, one of Angelika’s sisters whom we have known from previous visits both in Germany and the US hosted a lovely dinner at her place. It was wonderful to visit and meet up with another couple we had met years before.
We enjoyed the tradition each morning of a breakfast of bread, cheese, meats and jams with our larger meal in the middle of the day. In the afternoon when at home we had coffee served with a treat a few hours before the evening meal. It gave us plenty of time to visit with our friends. Thanks Angelika for the great meals that you treated us to.
Fortunately the last night we were there we had a chance to take Achim, Angelika and Gitti out for dinner at another traditional German restaurant. The food was excellent but better yet the company made for an exceptional evening.
Achim is a very accomplished photographer and gardener. We benefited from both of his
The Snow is Coming
soon as we could see from this view of the valley.
hobbies while on this trip. We had a grand tour of the hillside (and I do mean hillside) garden that he has put so much of himself into. Over the years he has built some magnificent stone walls, installed a water feature and set up an excellent way to collect, store and move rainwater around the garden. These gardens are a common feature in many European cities. The property is owned by the local government and people are allowed to cultivate the land and build semi-permanent structures for relaxation and storage. Achim’s garden shed contained a gas burner and several windows overlooking his garden connected to it was a small covered veranda with chairs and a table. It was obvious from the photos he showed us that this was a place where his family regularly met during the warm summer months.
One of Achim’s pride and joys is his banana tree that has been doing very well and his palm tree (yes that’s correct a 15 foot palm tree). He had both wrapped up for the winter months with the palm tree getting the extra protection of having an oil lamp providing some warmth for the cold that lies
ahead. Thanks to Achim we got some great photos of the family so we can add them to our photo album on Tsamaya. While in the garden we found that there was one last clump of grapes on his vine so had to sample it and then later were given a couple of jars of jam Achim made from the fruits in his garden.
Unfortunately the Saturday we went into town the Freiburg Münster (cathedral) was not open so we went in another day with Angelika. We were glad we had the chance to go back to tour the inside of this magnificent structure. It was started in 1158 and took over 300 years to build. It had its start with a Romanesque style, but changed to a Gothic design before being completed. The silver deposits near here as well as the sandstone deposits provided both the money and materials necessary to build such a large cathedral. The west tower stands 318 feet tall and has been under renovation to repair the ravages of weather and pollution. It was obvious that several other parts of the cathedral had recently been repaired including the entrance way which had been lovingly
Taking a nice walk
with Angelika close to her home on a nice cool late November day.
repaired and painted to return it to its former glory.
Martin Waldseemuller, educated in Freiburg, produced a world map in 1507 which was the first to use the term, “America” and display it on a map. One thousand of these maps had been produced and distributed. Due to controversy that arose at the time about Amerigo Vespucci and his possible role in the naming of America. Waldeseemuller produced an atlas in 1513 relabeling the continent as “Terra Incognita” (unknown land). The first map had been lost but a copy was found in Germany in 1901. The Library of Congress was able to purchase it in 2003. We were lucky enough to be able to view a copy of it which is now posted near the University of Freiburg.
One night Angelika and Gitti took us to a nearby town, Eschbach, where there was a medieval fair with people dressed as if it was the 1550s. Marching through town a group of musicians playing traditional bagpipes, horns and drums were followed by townspeople dressed in period costumes carrying torches and ending up singing carols on the steps of the inn located here. There were vendors with handmade items appropriate
Our "Home" for the Week
was very relaxing and comfortable on the top floor - thanks Angelika!
for the time period and we got a chance to sample some “home made” schnapps that made you breath out fire! The “home made” liqueur was definitely more to our taste. A fireworks display was the perfect ending to the evening.
Angelika knew of a pianist who was giving a recital. The pianist is only 19 years old but has been playing since the age of 4. The music selection included the 3 B’s (Bach, Beethoven and Brahms) with the addition of Berg. This young man gave a stunning performance. He is currently preparing for a career as a pianist and conductor. From what we heard he will definitely go far!
Janice had a chance to try her hand again at playing a game we had learned years ago when we visited Angelika and Achim in Germany. As we all know Janice is a closet card shark and immediately won several rounds of Yatze (I see Bob has been editing this again!). It was lots of fun and it reminded us that we actually have it on board so will have to dig it out of storage to play again, much to Bob chagrin, he always loses.
We enjoyed exploring the market in Freiburg with all its variety of offerings.
The week went by way too quickly, but we have a few reminders of our time with them. We were given many gifts to take back with us – Gitti heard us reminisce about the first time we had cheese fondue when visiting Freiburg and gave us the makings for fondue including the kirshwasser (cherry schnapps) and Angelika provided the wine to go with it. Achim gave us jars of his homemade jam, photos of the family and a beautiful chocolate Santa that looks too good to eat (but we will have to force ourselves after the holidays)!
As a result of us staying in Europe for the next few years we will be able to visit again. We are already looking forward to our next visit. A great big thanks go to Angelika, Achim and Gitti for making our week visit a very pleasant one that we will remember fondly. It is so nice to have such good friends where the time that passes between visits and the distance between us doesn’t really matter!
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