To be honest, travel to Germany has never been big on my radar. I’m a Scandinavia girl, always have been and always will be. And more recently over the past few years I’ve become Southeast Asia-infatuated. But Germany? It’s always been a country that I’ve passed through en route to other destinations, never really devoting large chunks of time there.
I did know about the Black Forest though. And my gosh, did I want to see the Black Forest.
You may have heard of this enchanting German forest through the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, which is how I became familiar with it.
To say this collection of stories has influenced and shaped my childhood is putting it mildly. I grew up with Grimm’s Fairy Tales by my side. My parents once told me they used to actually read me the stories from this book while I was still in the womb! From a very young age I remember spending hours flipping through the large hardcover copy on our bookshelf, totally captivated by the dark tales full of magic and danger – and they pretty much always took place in the Black Forest.
This forest has been calling my name for a long time…
And as luck would have it, one of my mentors announced back in the fall that she would be doing an energy anatomy training in Freiburg, a town in southern Germany which is basically surrounded by the Black Forest. Um, advanced energy work + huge childhood dream destination + the promise of forest-filled days? Sign me up!!
So I did what some people might call crazy and enrolled in a course halfway across the world, booked my flight, and headed to Freiburg this past April!
Freiburg… I had a good feeling about this city and upon arriving here, it was all confirmed.
Freiburg is my kind of city – that is, small, charming, vibrant, without an overwhelmingly urban feel, and easily accessible to nature.
And by nature, I don’t mean manmade parks (that’s not real nature to me) – I mean the actual forest is right HERE. You can have a meal in the city center and within 15 minutes, you can be taking a walk in the woods! This is just out-of-this-world incredible to me. Or maybe I’ve just been living in a concrete jungle for too long. In any case, to any Freiburg residents who might be reading this: you don’t know how good you have it.
Days spent in class doing chakra work and evenings spent hiking and immersed in the sounds and feel of nature… and this was easily one of the most soul-cleansing trips I’ve ever taken.
As you can see, the bulk of my free time was spent amongst trees and grass. Just how I like it 🙂
Some things that I absolutely LOVED about Freiburg:
The efficient hiking trails in the forest – everything runs in a Z like fashion as it extends up the mountains. This makes hiking SO easy, it’s actually ingenious (why aren’t all trails going up a mountain like this?!)
Hiking the Black Forest wasn’t nearly as dark and spooky as I had imagined it to be but it was still so amazing to experience. That deep-set emerald green colour… I’m not used to seeing green this lush and vibrant. It pulled me in, enveloped my senses, had me completely intoxicated. That green is what I will always remember about Freiburg.
On that note, touches of nature are everywhere. Flowering plants sprawling from balconies, ivy winding up trees, fuzzy green patches of moss alongside cobblestone walkways, wildflower-covered grasses, gardens teeming with so much colour and life and variety! People here clearly care about and value nature. Did I mention Freiburg is my kind of city? I had a ball simply walking around and taking in people’s gardens and yards.
The efficient trams – I took many trams throughout my stay in Freiburg. I got to know the system quite well – and during that whole time, I never waited more than 5 or 6 minutes for a tram to come, even at 6am! This just blows my mind. I have waited easily double or triple that amount of time for a subway to show up in NYC.. in rush hour no less!!
I always assumed NYC transit had to be one of the most efficient services out there… after all, they cater to millions of people everyday! Small towns can’t possibly compete with the public transit quality and efficiency that big cities have… right?? Well now that I’ve experienced Freiburg, this belief has totally gone out the window. I’m just so so impressed. This town of 220,000 people has public transit gold. Trams are clean, quiet, I’ve almost always gotten a seat because they run so often… and they run consistently on time!! In fact, EFFICIENT is a word that I would use to describe Germany as a whole!
Running water, everywhere! – Freiburg is filled with narrow channels of water running throughout the streets called bächle. As the town sits on a natural slope, the bächle were originally built long ago to funnel river water into the town as a source of water supply. These days I’m not sure if the bächle are really utilised anymore.. I did see many children racing boats in them 🙂 In any case, I loved walking around and seeing and hearing running water almost wherever I went; it was one of the most loveliest and charming things about Freiburg.
The bikes – my eyes just about bugged out of my head when I saw the bike racks around Freiburg. They weren’t so much racks as they were gigantic parking lots.. for bikes!
Take for example this pic above at the train station… it just kept going and going and going. Freiburg is a bike city – meaning that not only does almost everyone own a bike but the city is also extremely bike-friendly to cyclists. I just love this!
No place is perfect and I unfortunately had a not-great food experience with this trip.. which was so unfortunate because I really love everything else about Freiburg!
Being a foodlover, one of my favourite things to do is try new cuisines wherever I travel. That being said however, traditional German food, being quite heavy on the gluten and sausage meats, is just not for me. I felt the same way when I traveled to Prague last fall and pretty much avoided the standard cuisines there. It was much harder to do so on this trip however, especially where I stayed, which was far from the city center. I did my best but still ended up eating quite a bit of baked goods, flour quiches, pizza, crepes, lots of grains in general… not to mention all the sugary delish chocolate I found 🙂
The grain and gluten overload was just too much and my body paid the price when I returned home. I am currently in detox mode now, cutting out all sugars and starches for the time being to give my system a much-needed rest! Next time I’ll be taking measures to look up places where I can find healthier food options for sure.
So there you have it, my Freiburg travels in a nutshell. And despite some of the food mishaps, I’m still so glad I made this trip happen.
I have a deep admiration for Freiburg and the quality of life that it presents. And whether or not I end up spending time here in the future, it makes me happy to know that a place like this really exists. A place that in so many ways manages to fuse the best of both worlds – bustling city and sleepy countryside. Modern and medieval. Lively and quaint. Efficient and wild. I don’t think I’ve experienced any other city in the world that’s been able to pull off this balance so well – which makes Freiburg really REALLY special ♥