Tues 16th July.
DEUTSCHLAND ÜBER ALLES.
While packing up I found the biggest grasshopper I’d ever seen. I’m not sure what it was, but it was about two inches long and after studying it for a while, it flew into my face then disappeared. Perhaps it was a locust?
I wasn’t sleeping well in the tent, as my inflatable mattress had punctures. It came with special glue to fix it, but it was used up by the third appliance. I did my research on the mattress and evidence suggested it was sturdy and wouldn’t puncture much but was easy to fix if it did.
Being out in the elements with a hole in my mattress, I was losing sleep at night and feeling rough in the mornings and for most of the day, with no alternative.
The only way of getting a good nights sleep, was to get an early night with hosts, ultimately getting used to functioning on less sleep.
I was back on the road under a warm sun and within an hour I was at the German border. I crossed over with no inspections and was wading through the green fields of Germany towards Freiburg.
I knew nothing about the Black Forrest (or ‘Schwarzwald’) but it had come up in conversation with friends when talking about Germany.
I knew my route was going near it, so when I saw an opportunity to see it for myself, I decided to do so. Partially because I assumed it was probably the best area for outstanding natural beauty in Germany.
Once I decided to go, I thought Freiburg would be a good enough point to get to, to experience the forest and see one of its cities, then I would head east to the much larger lake Constance, shared by Germany, Switzerland and a bit of Austria. From here I would head up to Munich and the catch a train to Italy.
I was expected a flat terrain after the frustrating hills of Switzerland (in and out of the Alps). Despite my assumption that most of Germany was flat, the Black Forrest was far from it, with plenty of long challenging climbs and steep ascends.
I got to the Bonndorf a small town in the forest where I found a Lidl. So excited was I by this, that I immediately stocked up on all the foods and many more I could now afford. I also added a few treats as I’d been without them for so long and the brought such comfort and pleasure to otherwise fruitless days. A new favourite was ice-coffee, which was a fraction of the price it was in Switzerland for exactly the same product.
The next stop was the first German lake. It was tranquil and picturesque, but nothing compared to the vibrancy and perfection of Swiss lakes. Still one of Switzerland’s mysteries.
There was a café in the train station there, where I stopped off and ordered something I’d been looking forward to since I’d left England. A German beer.
It was a lager from the Rothaus brewery and it cost no more than €1. It went down well in the midday sun, cold and crisp. I fancied another, but uncertain what it’d do to me in the heat, I left. I was looking forward to many more beers during my time in Germany.
I crossed the lake and headed north to the more beautiful lake, Titisee, which I later found out was the locals favourite. I had another steep ascent before getting there, but then had all the pleasures of a lofty descent that wrapped around the lake, creating a dangerous combination of speed and beautiful lake views through the trees.
I followed the lake around and stopped to take in the view, but with time of day and dehydration from the beer setting in, I got to a spot of shade, drank a lot of water and took a break before heading off.
I was able to build up a good pace and tackle some more difficult climbs, to get to Freiburg with time to spare. After more hairpin turns and a few hours of climbing, I arrived at a massive descent, which established how high I’d come, completely unknown to me at the time.
I’d thought once I was out of the Alps, the rest of Switzerland would be flat. Then when I reached Germany I was certain that would be flat, but I was wrong both times. It was starting to feel like I would never be reunited with blissful, flat tarmac allowing me to lap up the distance.
Once I descended down more hairpin turns and a long, steep road that felt like going down a death slide, I crossed some tranquil, spacious meadows and got onto a cycle path that took me to the outskirts of the city and into the heart of Freiburg.
I was amazed by the city, I hadn’t expected much, but what was here was very beautiful, warm and historically German/Bavarian city that dated way back to 1120.
Time was already passing quickly and while having a coffee break, I had to decide where to stay. I didn’t want to pay for a hostel and had no offers from hosts, so I decided to take my chances with camping near the city. I studied Google maps and that revealed the area with the most greenery nearby was the south.
I would camp near the city so I could revisit it tomorrow and get to know it a bit better.
I got a currywurst for dinner and headed south. It took about 45 minutes before finding the ideal area where camping might be an option, then took a further 30 minutes of searching before I found a suitable spot in the woods.
The woods were tricky and unwelcoming, but after continual scouting I found a suitable plot. I set up, popped a beer I’d picked up in town and got down for the night.
After I finished, I put the bottle outside the tent and I saw something I had never expected to see in the wild. Fireflies. There were two and they were clearly visible as it was getting dark. I watched dance around each other few minutes before heading off into the woods. Enchanted by natures mysteries and dizzy from the beer, I dozed off thinking about unexpected wonders.