The Black Forest

Every time I think about the Black Forest, I get the old ‘Teddy Bear’s picnic’ song stuck in my head; ‘If you go down to the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise…’. And now you do too… You’re welcome.

The Black Forest (Schwarzwald) is in south-west corner of Germany, bordering France and Switzerland. When researching our trip, I was trying to find the German equivalent of Austria’s Hallstatt, and I think we came pretty close.

The Black Forest region is known for its foreboding dark woods, half-timbered houses, and cuckoo clocks. The moody skies we had while we were there really played it up.

Itinerary

  • Day 1: Schiltach
  • Day 2: Triberg, Hausach, Schiltach

Eat: Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest cake) & Schwarzwälder Schinken (Black Forest smoked ham)

Drink: Rothaus (local beer)

Top tip: Ask your hotel/guest house for a free KONUS card. This will give you free train and bus rides throughout the area!

 

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Schiltach part I

Known as the ‘prettiest’ Black Forest village, Schiltach did not disappoint. There’s half-timbered houses galore, misty mountains and a stream running through the town.

We made this our base for exploring the area, and stayed right in the market square, at Gasthoff Sonne – a guest house over 400 years old.

We spent our first day looking around, taking it all in. My favourite thing to do when exploring a new place is to simply wander the back streets – so that is what we did. We took the opportunity to visit the local supermarket – Norma – on our first day too, which made for an entertaining experience.

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Triberg

We jumped on the train the next morning, and started making our way to Triberg, only to be stopped in our tracks (literally) by a fallen tree across the railway line… So back to Schiltach we went.

After finally arriving in Triberg a couple of hours later, we were greeted with more moody skies threatening rain. Triberg is world famous for cuckoo clocks, and the ‘House of 1000 clocks’ is worth a visit (you can even buy one if you have a few hundred spare euro, and an extra suitcase to carry it). It’s also home to the tallest waterfall in Germany – Triberg Falls – which has a drop of 163 metres.

The falls, just out of town, were our first stop, and we paid our entry fee (much to the disgust of the husband who objected to having to pay to see nature) and started the hike up the hillside. It seemed every man and their dog was out to see the falls that day – including a couple carrying their fluff ball all the way up and down, and one dude hanging out with his wolf openly smoking a joint at the base of the forest… Maybe it’s a thing?

The falls were roaring – and the rain made it all the more impressive. The real winner though, was the forest surrounding them. It was lush, green and mossy, with little squirrels and birds darting about. I’d quite happily have kept walking for hours – but we were on a schedule, so at some point we had to turn back, drenched by this point.

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After the falls, we ducked into one of the many cafes and had traditional Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake) – which is kind of like a cherry gateau with cherry liquor and cream. I was surprised how much I liked it!

Before we knew it, it was time to get back on the train and make our way back to Schiltach via Hausach. Now be warned, the train station is a little way out of town – so you do need to get a bus, so allow enough time to get there!

 

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Hausach

We had an hours transfer time, so we took the opportunity to explore Hausach, with its castle ruins high on the hill behind it. This was obviously not as much of a tourist spot, and gave off more of a local vibe. We wandered along the river one way – and I got overly excited about all the wild flowers lining the river banks and back streets. We walked back through the town on the return trip.

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Schiltach part II

The sun finally came out for our last afternoon, making Schiltach look even more pretty!

We wanted to do a short hike while in the region (given that’s partly what the area is renowned for), so we chose a route to a nearby castle ruins. We walked through the forest, along a road, past farmhouses, and finally up the hill to the castle.

Schenkenburg Castle was built between 1220-1250, and though there isn’t a lot left, the ruins hint to it being impressive in its day. It was a little eerie to be honest, and I wouldn’t want to be there in the dark – but very cool and well worth the hike.

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We were a little sad to leave the Black Forest, but excited to see more of Germany! Given the amazing food and portion sizes, we’ll be lucky if we’re not huge by the time we leave…

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