Friday, 3 February 2017

Bartletts in the Black Forest: Part 1

We intended to go on holiday last Summer, but then Malcolm was in China and didn't want to take more time off, and since I was pregnant and in the first trimester, it wasn't ideal anyway. So we decided we'd go in Autumn instead. I marked the dates in my calender, and then we just never got around to planning anything. The days came and went and we were still in Marburg. In November I finally got my act together and started actually planning this holiday, which would be in early January. Once the holiday apartment and train tickets were booked, I felt very accomplished! 

So. This holiday. We went to the Schwarzwald, to Freudenstadt. Not your typical holiday destination, but we wanted a sort of cosy holiday surrounded by snow, with cities close by to visit. And I'd say that Freudenstadt provided just that. 

Th train line between Karlsruhe and Freudenstadt is worth seeing. It was SO pretty. A winter wonderland. Maerchenhaft. All the cliches. 

We arrived to find our apartment just as described, and then very soon set out to find the busstop to get into the city. This busstop was not as described. I had asked before booking how accessible it was, since I'd be 7months pregnant, the thought of waddling for ages through snow was not appealing. Turns out we needed to walk along a snow and ice-lined road with very fast cars, being careful not to slip down the sometimes rather steep slopes on the side. OR we could walk up the snowy path next to a ski-slope. We missed the bus by a few minutes, but checked the plan and realised how seldom the busses came. Drat. 

I felt a little hopeless, because how were we going to get out of our snowy wonderland if the connection was so bad? Fortunately, our apartment was cosy and we had milk and cookies and we could plan the next few days. 

The next day, after our early-morning trecherous walk to the busstop and then another even more terrifying walk along icy pavements to the train station in a tiny little dorf, we we were on our way to Freiburg. One of the most beautiful cities in Germany! I think it's probably a little more pretty in Summer, but in winter it was also nice to wander around in for a few hours. 

It was dark by the time we got back, and we were a little nervous about how to get back to our apartment. Fortunately, prayers were answered and 1) another couple was needing to walk the same way as us and 2) the snow reflected enough light that we could walk down the path along the ski slope without it having lamps.

The next day, we had decided to tone down the adventure and just see Freudenstadt. The day was beautiful. Blue skies and snow are the best combination! We walked up along the ski slope to the bus stop, stopping to take photos and to build a snow man. Our snow man turned out so pathetically that we destroyed it, and I won't embarrass us by posting a photo here, either. (things to do in preparation for German baby: learn to make a snow man so we can be cool and competent parents)


By the time we made it to the top, the weather had turned rather blustery and snow was falling. We went to the bus stop and hung around a few minutes before realising that the bus wasn't scheduled to come in that hour. Fortunately, a coffee shop was close by in the hotel at the top of the hill. So we, looking miserable as anything and all soaked in snow, went and drank coffee to pass the time until the next bus.

We made it to Freudenstadt (3kms away, really not that big a deal!) and the sun was shining again and the market place was just stunning. The biggest market place in Germany.

We wandered around the market place, peering into the famous arcaded shops all around. The church was beautiful inside, and also shows how terribly the town was destroyed in the war and how it was rebuilt. A little while later, the weather turned for the worse again, and, with a freezing cold wind, we took shelter in any shop that looked interesting.

One other reason why we chose Freudenstadt, is because it's close by to the teeny tiny settlement called Neuneck, where my maternal grandmother was born and lived in the parsonage. I hoped to get there, but with only 2 busses going there each day, and taxis being horrifically expensive, my hopes were fading. However, a friend suggested contacting their family who live in Freudenstadt, and, after a couple sms's, we were picked up and driven the 10km's to Neuneck. How kind?! There we were able to find the church and the house next door, where my grandmother once lived.

It really is a teeny-tiny village, but so picturesque! It was so nice to get to see it, and then get driven back to our apartment. 
Later that afternoon, we went out for a walk in the snow, and caught a spectacular sunset over the hill. It was so special, getting to soak up these moments of being just the two of us. This really wasn't intended as a 'baby-moon' or a 'last hoorah', but it kind of turned into one, as it dawned on us that our time left alone is so limited.  

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