Heading out of Kempten we decided to take some of the back roads and travel through Bavarian countryside towards Freiburg. Fields of barley, wheat, and corn spread out in all directions. Trellises of hops filled the air with their distinctive bittersweet smell and brown alpine cows with cow bells around their necks stood around chewing their cuds. Alpine style houses and large wooden barns dominated the landscape giving the whole scene a quaint olden days feel.
Eventually roadworks and detours forced us to head back to the main highway.
Our first stop was at Lake Bodensee near Fredrikshaven. Finding access down onto the lake proved a little difficult but eventually we found a little village on the lake. The day had really heated up so we ditched our jackets on the bike and found a takeaway coffee place. It was quite nice looking out across the lake watching the tour boats cruising around the lake. Interestingly the lake actually is bordered by three different countries, Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
After our break we headed east passing through the Black Forest area of Germany. I expected to be actually traveling through huge swathes of forest however, it was not exactly the case. Around the hills were covered in quite extensive forests of pine with occasional areas stretching down to the highway.
As we drew closer to Freiburg it became apparent that that we were now in the Rhineland. Miles and miles of vineyards stretched up into the hills on either side of the road.
Arriving in Freiburg. Our friends Mary and Felix’s apartment was close to the centre not far from the train station. The inner city suburb was really funky with lots of little shops, bars and cafe’s. The streets were lined with lots of trees and with massive wisteria vines climbing up buildings there was really nice. Freiburg is a university city and all the young people really breath life into the city.
After catching up with our friends they took us out for a walk around the city. Freiburg is famous for its gutters (Bächle) which run throughout the city. It’s a fascinating system of water filled gutters which are fed by the Dreisam river and run along the city streets. Freiburg is famous for being Germany’s hottest city and the gutters cool the hot city air. They were originally used for firefighting but these days they are very much a part of being a Freiburger. While local kids paddle, sail little boats or ducks in the bächles, ladies take the opportunity to slip their heels off and cool their feet in the running water.
The local legend is that if you step in a gutter you’ll marry a local. We were particularly careful after hearing this.
In the centre of the city the Freiburg Münster towers over the Minstersquare. The Gothic spire of the massive red brick church really reaches for the heavens. It’s claim to fame is that it’s the only Gothic spire in Germany completed in the Middle Ages (1330). Overlooking the square is the Historic Merchants Hall, one of Freiburg’s most easily recognised buildings.
Built in the 14th century the building is painted crimson with a multi coloured tiled roof. Along the facade 4 statues of Holy Roman Emperors from the 1500’s sit on pedestals between the front row of balcony windows and the crests of the House Of Hapsburg adorn the turrets at the ends of the balcony. It really is a fabulous building.
It’s quite amazing that despite approximately 90% of the city being destroyed during the war the Münster and spire was untouched. Only the windows were blown in.
Photos courtesy of http://photos.wikimapia.org[/caption]
The rebuilding of the city postwar is quite impressive. The city planners have done an outstanding job to retain a sense of old Bavaria by rebuilding the city centre on the old medieval plan. Many of the medieval style buildings around the heart of the city have been rebuilt and two of the medieval city gates have been retained. At 60 metres tall with high pitched roofs the two gates known as Martinstor and the Schwabentor, are really impressive.
Mary and Felix guided around the city telling us about the city’s history and pointing out their favourite spots. They led us down tiny cobbled streets and along beautiful wisteria lined lanes. After just a short period of time we fell in love with Freiburg. It really is a beautiful city with a real positive vibe.
After dinner we talked and played cards until the wee hours. It was as if we’d hadn’t been away. Tomorrow we’ll explore the city a little more after visiting the computer repair shop.