A long awaited part 2. My apologies for the delay, I am finally back to writing consistently and hope not to disappear again.
In Part 1 I discussed my time in Gengenbach, Europa-Park, and Strasbourg. The next day was spent exploring the Black Forest area. After a walk around town in the morning, my friend drove me out to visit the largest cuckoo clock in the world, just outside of the small town of Triberg. The clock itself is as big as a house and the cuckoo weighs 150 kg! The clock rings on every hour and half hour mark, so it is easy to catch the spectacular. After touring the inside of the clock, we waited outside for the call which I caught on the video below:
The drive to the clock from Gengenbach was about 50 minutes. As someone born and raised in Western Canada, I marveled at how similar the landscape was to the Rockies. Though the mountains in Black Forest are significantly small that the Rockies, with no barren peaks seen during our drive, the winding corners around the green hills felt very familiar. Strikingly different, however, were the traditional houses still in use along the drive. These large, dark buildings with slantly rooves that were distinctly German.
On our way home we stopped at a shop filled with cuckoo clocks and explored the different styles. There were insanely intricate clocks, and very simplified ones. If you are hoping to bring home a clock as a souvenir, make sure to plan transport and be prepared to pay for the craftmanship, as these clocks are expensive!
The next morning we left Gengenbach early by train for a day trip to Heidelberg. We were accompanied by my friend’s parents, a family excursion. We were going to Heidelberg primarily for the castle and other main tourist attractions, although the city is primarily a University town, with one quarter of its population being students.
The morning was spent touring the castle. In the early days of January the weather had a distinct winter chill, though there wasn’t any snow (a noticeable absence for a Canadian). We opted for an audio tour, so picked up our audio guides at the information centre and began exploring the castle. Admission to the castle is currently €9 and the audio tour is an additional €5. Heidelberg’s castle is built on a steep hill that overlooks the Neckar river and the entire city below. The views from the castle are truly incredible. As well, the audio tour gave us interesting facts about the city’s history as we wandered the castle and its grounds at our own pace.
After our tour in the outdoor sections of the castle, we were happy to make our way inside. We finished to tour with some glühwein to warm up. After our time at the castle, we took the funicular railroad up to the King’s Chair (Königstuhl) station, which at an altitude of 550 m gives you a view of the entire city and surrounding plain.
We took the 2 hour train ride back to Gengenbach where I spent my last night in Germany. My friend and her family took me to a German restaurant in her hometown for a truly traditional German meal before I returned home. As a vegetarian, my options were somewhat limited -as with many meat-centric North European cuisines- but they did have some veggie friendly choices.
The next morning my friend gave me a ride to the train station in Offenberg where I took the train for an hour and a half to reach the Frankfurt airport and catch my flight home to Madrid. And thus, my two week marathon around Europe had come to an end and exam season resumed.