Our second day in Freiburg was mostly taken up with trying to sort out Michele’s laptop. As we were staying with our couch-surfing friends Mary and Felix we were able to take us to a few different computer shops. We visited a few before finding Omega, an electronics shop (sort of like Dick Smiths). At Omega they tested the powerpack and confirmed that it was ok. Every other computer shop has been telling us that the problem was the powerpack. They then pulled our laptop apart to confirm that the laptop was dead.
Our mate Felix was able to remove the hard drive and spent the morning retrieving all our data. We left him with it and went shopping for a replacement laptop. Easier said than done it seemed. When we went to the computer store we went through the whole process of finding the suitable laptop with the salesman only to discover they had no laptops. No laptops in a University city, that’s outrageous. A little frustrated we decided to wait until we get to Frankfurt.
So what to do in the home of the Black Forest?….Eat Black Forest Cake of course. At one of the cafes lining the Minstersquare we were able to find a coffee and cake at a reasonable price. The Minstersquare is a great place for people watching and the buildings around it are quite beautiful. The cake was a little different to what we were used to. The ones at home are traditionally a little richer.
The Black Forest which the cake gets its name from is actually quite close to the city. The old castle ruins of Schlossberg situated on a hill overlooking the city are actually on the edge of the Black Forest.
History of Freiburg
Since early times Freiburg has been on an important trade route and as such the city is quite wealthy. Freiburg was on the crossroads of trade routes between the Mediterranean Sea and the North Sea. Also trade on the Danube and Rhine river passed through Freiburg. As such Freiburg was established as a Free Town in 1120. Freiburgers were fiercely independent and didn’t trust the nobles.
When Bertold V died in 1218 the towns citizens wrote a Bill of Rights. The bill of rights was used when similar bills were developed by Germany and Switzerland later in the twentieth century. After Bertold V’s death the situation between the citizens and the nobility really diminished over the next 60 odd years. The situation in Freiburg got so bad that the citizens, keen to throw the shackles of imposed rule, attacked the Schlossberg Castle with catapults.
As such the castle was destroyed and Count Engino II had to call in his brother the Bishop of Strasbourg to restore order. Soon the bishop arrived with his army but according to local legend didn’t count on getting stabbed to death by a local butcher. Eventually the citizens bought the city off the count and established itself as a Freetown (with the backing of the Hapsburgs). Much of the architecture reflects this period of growth. The establishment of it’s first university saw the city developing in arts and sciences. These days Freiburg is very much a university city and the young people really breathe life into the old place.
Wandering around the Aldstadt we were amazed how well the city had been rebuilt. During the war about 90% of the city was destroyed, but instead of building new buildings the city council rebuilt the Aldstadt on the medieval plan. The Freiburg minster was one of the only buildings left virtually untouched, apart from its windows. All the other buildings were rebuilt to a high standard. These days the buildings are old but new. Unlike some cities where the old buildings are almost falling down, the new buildings look great.
The weather in Freiburg was superb and it was great seeing the kids playing in the bächles, the water filled gutters, which run throughout the city. They weren’t just the only ones enjoying the water. Ladies were also taking advantage of the cool water by slipping off their shoes and dipping their feet in to cool their feet off.
The best view of Freiburg is from Schlossberg, the hill which overlooks the city. There’s been castle on Schlossberg since the 11th century, the remains of which are still visible on the hill. Walking trails criss cross the hill and a funicular (Schlossbergbahn) runs up the hill from a station in the Stadtgarten. We had plans to use the schlossbergbahn to reach the top of the Schlossberg but we arrived to the news that something had broken on it.
The weather was way too hot to be walking up the hill. As it was we were sweating just walking around the city.
Instead we decided to check out the Stadtgarten. The bright sunshine had attracted crowds of people to the park. There were the usual sun bakers, picnickers, blokes kicking soccer balls, families enjoying the play area, and coffee lovers in the park cafe enjoying a coffee overlooking the action around them. The park had the most beautiful gardens full of summer blooms.
Late in the day we caught up again with our friends Mary and Felix for a lovely meal at the local Laotian restaurant. The food was unbelievably good, and we had a great evening eating some of the most authentic tasting Laotian food. It was a nice way to end our visit to Freiburg reminiscing about Mary and Felix’s visit to Australia. Tomorrow we head to Frankfurt and catch up with another couch surfer who stayed with us in Australia.