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Off to Germany (Oct 2002)

We left Korea, flew to see friends in Singapore, and then headed off to Europe. First, it was Germany, where we spent a lovely week with the Herzogs in Karlsruhe... 


BACK ON THE BLOCK. After arriving in Frankfurt early on Sunday morning, we took a train south to the small city of Karlsruhe (see an interesting website about the city here) to spend a week with some very old friends of Laetitia's, the Herzogs. L first became friends with Regine while living in Germany almost 20 years ago. We spent our first Sunday afternoon back in Europe wandering around the Autumnal grounds of the 230 year-old Palace that dominates the city.
CAT-ATONIC. Since our last visit to Europe in 1994, Regine and her husband Reinhard have been adopted by two cats, incredibly nice but unusually - erm - 'robust'. Years without exercise, coupled with moggie nosh on tap, have taken their toll, leaving the furniture in the house straining to cope with the weight of these sleeping giants... THIS IS ONE LARGE CAT - SEE THE CUP FOR COMPARISON!

PLEASE, HERR, CAN I HAVE SOME MORE? Yes, it must be said that the local food is not being any kinder to our waistlines either. We are huge fans of German food - and getting huger. Mountains of cheeses and sausages, smoked meats, goodie-packed bakeries on every corner, de rigeur wine and bum-kicking coffee - all help to remind us what we've been missing for the last 5 years. 

THE GASTHAUS ROOM WHERE WE ATE. NAPOLEON SLEPT HERE (AFTER STUFFING HIS FACE). A dinner to remember was what we had at the Gasthaus Loewenthor, an amazing inn in the small village of Gondelsheim. This place is hundreds of years old, and is one of the most atmospheric places we've ever eaten at in our lives - and we've been to a lot. We sat at the table under the huge tapestry you can see at the back of the room in this picture (which I borrowed from their website which you can visit here).


Freiburg and The Black Forest...

After a few days in Karlsruhe, we headed down to Freiburg, a small city renowned for its 12th century Munster (that's a Cathedral, not a cheese) and its location on the rim of the Schwartzwald (Black Forest). Laetitia'd lived here for almost a year in the early 80s while her Dad was on a sabbatical, and she went to a local high school, so it's like a second home town to her. It's marvellous being back in a society where the only things that wake a person on a Sunday morning are the bells, rather than the bloody merchants of Asia trumpeting the virtues of their wares from loudspeaker-equipped lorries.

I LOVE VIEW TOO! IN THE SCHAUINSLAND. DAS LAND IST MEINE LAND! Well, not really, but we'd love to claim ownership of this awesome mix of picturesque villages, hidden valleys and sweeping views - and then there's the gluhwein too to top off a day's stroll in the forests.
THE WHITE FOREST. A half-hour bus/tram/bus trip followed by the longest cable-car ride we've ever had (3,2 km) ended with us on top of a mountain forest in the Schauinsland, complete with the expected breathtaking views, as well as snow (which we were definitely NOT expecting). Despite the complete lack of winter gear, we enjoyed ourselves hugely, and have not yet come down with the terrible colds that played havoc with our last winter holiday in Europe 14 years ago. HANNAN'S SENSE OF SNOW...
PATHS TO GLORY... SNOW PROBLEM. After a couple of hours, the sun broke through and the mist lifted once and for all, allowing us the chance to finish our visit in the sun, absolutely the best way to appreciate the Autumn colours which have rendered the Black Forest anything but. A couple of cups of gluhwein (hot, spiced wine) on the peak followed by freshly-grilled wursts (sausages) on the Munsterplatz (cathedral square) back in the city rounded off the day in a very satisfying way...


Into The Black Forest and Onto The Water...

When Laetitia and I were last here (in 1989) in the depth of Baden-Wuttemberg (the province), we centred our time around a guesthouse in the tiny hamlet of St. Mergen, with occasional forays to the town of Neustadt, but I never managed to get to the strangely-named Titisee, which actually means 'Lake of Titus'. It's a mountain lake which gets its name from the Roman Emperor who also liked it a long time before we ever got there.

FIELD OF DREAMS. Yep, this was exactly the type of countryside we'd been waiting to see - that particular blend of green which you find only in this part of the world. The Autumn leaves were a perfect complement - it left me digging for matches in my pockets. I jest. K TAKES LEAVE(S) IN THE BLACK FOREST.
SEE TITI? Actually, this was clearly NOT a nudist beach, but the name stuck anyway. This is the business shore of the Titisee, from which we took a very leisurely cruise - and a couple of sips from some delicious wild honey schnapps which I smuggled on board the ferry. Tut. AVOIDING 'TITI' JOKES...
BACK TO SCHOOL... BACK TO SKO... er SCOO... no... GYMNASIUM! Almost twenty years before this visit, Laetitia had spent the best part of a year as a 15 year-old at this school in Freiburg, St. Ursula Gymnasium (that's 'High School' in German). Now she was back, and very little had changed - schoolwise, that was. She, happily, was VERY different. 
After Germany, next on the list came a day's train trip across the border into France where we spent a few days in Paris before a bus journey to England, our final stop. 

Have a look at our Paris holiday page...


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