The Black Forests of Germany

The Black Forests of Germany

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The Black Forest is not only a destination that is extremely varied but is also one of the biggest and best known holiday regions in Germany. Located in south western Germany in Baden- Wurttemberg, the Black Forest is a wooded mountain range.  It is mainly a granite highland with rounded summits. It embodies everything, from the Black Forest maids, farms, cherry gateaux and hats to cuckoo clocks that one might expect of a perfect German picture book holiday. The forest is bordered by the Rhine Valley in its west and south. The dark, slightly sinister canopy of evergreens surrounding the place gave the forest its name. It is also famous for its legends and the black fir trees that cover the landscape.

The terrain is about 200- 1500 meters above sea level, Feldberg (or the field mountain) being the highest point at 1493 m. It is almost rectangular in shape with a length of 160 km. The River Danube originates from the Black Forest. It also occupies a part of the continental divide between the Atlantic Ocean drainage basin and the Black Sea drainage basin. Initially regarded as a backward part of Germany, the forest first rose to commercial prominence for its timber and woodwork.  This was followed by the cuckoo clock industry, watch making, manufacture of musical instruments and gold mining. Today the region is best known for attracting tourists. ‘Black Forest Clinic’ a T.V series has also helped in promoting its fame far and wide as the series brought images of this perfect holiday destination to over 40 countries in 17 languages.

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The closest airports to the Black Forest are Karlsruhe, Strasbourg, Basel, Stuttgart and Zurich. One could catch the train or take a taxi from the airport. There are a couple of attractive towns and villages surrounding the forests which makes our tour more delightful. Baden- Baden is an old nineteenth century spa town in the north. Bad Wildbad is another village located in the Northern Black Forest well known for its marked drives particularly the scenic Schwarzwaldhochstrasse or the Badische Weinstrasse. These drives also lead us to the beautiful Gutach Valley, the most quintessential and traditional region of the Black Forest. There is also the provincial University City of Freinburg with its sun- soaked narrow streets. This is the warmest and most arid part of Germany from where you can explore the entire Southern Black Forest.

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A few minutes’ walk or a bike ride from these towns and villages will put you in the lap of nature, in the middle of a silent countryside filled with farmhouses, dairy cows and poultry farms. Titisee, a medium sized lake is another important destination in the tourist village of Neustadt. The Black Forest was the birthplace of skiing in central Europe. The first ski club was founded in the Feldberg Mountain. Cyclists and bikers also find the path leading to the forest ideal for travelling. More than 8,000 kilometres of cycle trails have been signposted for mountain bikers.  You can also spend your time indulged in adventurous sports like hiking, high altitude lake diving, mountain hiking, paragliding and many others. There are also numerous shorter paths suitable for day walks. The thermal baths in Baden- Baden and Badenweiler are also very famous. The Deutsche’s Uhrenmuseum at Furtwangen has the biggest collection of cuckoo clocks, renowned for their precision.

There are also several restaurants in the area with top chefs and Gault Millau even in the small villages where one could savour the taste of regional cuisine. The food is ‘wholesome’ and has lots of cakes, biscuits, wheat and gravies. The restaurants also provide the best drinks available. We get to taste some of Germany’s best beer and wine available in the region. Rothaus and Alpirsbacher are some of the highly renowned beers. The internationally known Black Forest Cake originated in this region. It is also called the Black Forest Cherry Cake and is made using chocolate cake, cream, sour cherries and Kirsch.

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The Flammkuchen made with ham, cheese and cream is also a Black Forest speciality. There are about 17 Michelin starred restaurants in the region. Hotel Sonnenhalde, Schwarzwaldstube and Bareiss in Baiersbronn, and Colombi in Freiburg are some of the famous restaurants in the area. We also get to see a glimpse of the old tile stoves that are still in use in many of the hotels in the region. Stay in the Black Forest is varied and plentiful, from simple rooms in farmhouses to five star luxuries. Accommodations are cheaper in the smaller towns and villages and often provide excellent home-food and special service. Those interested in hiking for a week or two can stay in the primitive lodging available in small cabins along the trails.

With around 28 million overnight stays round the year, tourism is the most important rice winner of the federal state of Wurttemberg. By touring around the dark, deep green woods of the Black forest one could marvel at the unspoiled nature and spend a few hours in blissful silence. Wood carving is a traditional cottage industry in the region that produces carved ornaments that are given as souvenirs to the tourists. Singing bird boxes were also manufactured in the past. Visiting the Black Forest is a once in a lifetime experience and we get to enjoy the best of nature.

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