Yesterday I wrote about the impact one’s choice of lodging can have on a trip — and about the unexpected joys of occasionally staying further afield. Such was the case in the beautiful little city of Freiburg im Breisgau, which lies in the foothills of Germany’s Schwartzwald (Black Forest).
You need not be a cartographer to see that the hills around the city are covered in footpaths.
But although I’d climbed far enough on a previous trip to see the ruins of the castle, I’d had no reason (or indeed, motivation) to explore further. All of that changed last December, when I found myself living on the hillside — and therefore, exploring these paths out of sheer necessity.
Although the paths varied in their condition and vertigo-inducing potential, the stunning views of the city egged me on.
Then, on one of the switchbacks, I spotted a strange icon. I’d once seen footage in a video of an enormous tower overlooking Freiburg. Had I inadvertently stumbled onto the right path?
As it turned out, there wasn’t really a single “right” path.
And so it was that I embarked on an unplanned 1.5-mile hike in search of the Schloßbergturm.
It doesn’t look very impressive from the ground.
But when you’re standing at its base, it feels very imposing indeed.
I’m not a big fan of heights, so it took a lot of encouraging self-talk to will myself to the top. (Small sample: “No one knows I’m up here. What if I fall to my death?! Well, I suppose if I’m dead it won’t matter. Don’t look down. Just grab the handrail and keep climbing. How far up do you have to be to reach terminal velocity, anyway? Geez, these stairs feel shaky. Is this thing swaying in the wind? What if the wooden posts snap??!”)
In spite of my shaky start, I did eventually make it to the top. The panoramic views were totally worth the terror — and the climb.
I loved watching the city below wake up, as the first few tourists and merchants streamed into the Münsterplatz.
Surrounded by the sounds of birdsong and church bells, I felt as if I’d been transported back in time.
So thrilled was I by my first visit, that I braved the climb again on my second morning in Freiburg. “This time I’ll go all the way to the top,” I told myself. Alas, another photographer had already beat me to the rickety crow’s nest.
Johannes was very gracious when I asked permission to join him, though — and even more gracious when I asked him to take my picture. It was the last frame available on my memory card.
And it’s also one of my last memories of Freiburg: feeling on top of the world.
Super! I barely made it into south Germany when I visited 30 years ago, so these views are all new to me.
I’m playing catch up this week on your blog, I have a little time this morning and wow, what marvellous images. Congratulations on braving it to the top. I especially love the last image of you. I feel as if I am standing there next to you enjoying the breathtaking view.
Thank you, Rochelle! In hindsight, climbing the tower was one of the highlights of my trip because it was so unexpected, so far out of my usual comfort zone — and ultimately, so rewarding. If ever you make it to Germany, I highly recommend Freiburg. It’s become one of my favorite places. xx
I will have to visit it now. I thought Heidelberg was my favourite place in Germany, but I will let you know once I visit Freiburg some day. x
Hello, I am going to Freiburg in July and we are undecided whether to stay in the town, or like yourself up away in the hills. As you have experience of both, which one would you chose next time and why. I like both locations for different reasons, I also don’t mind the extra walking. Also, could I ask you the name of the Apartment you stayed in that was a little out of the way? Thank you in advance. Kelly
Hello, Kelly! Lucky you — I’ve yet to visit Freiburg in the summer, when I’ve been told it’s at its most vibrant!
I’m wondering two things: For how long will you be there? And what do you plan to do during your stay? I ask because if you’re going to be there for fewer than three or four days, I recommend staying a little closer in, just so you’re not spending an hour or two every day walking up and down the hill. Ditto if you’re coming for a particular reason (the Zelt-Musik-Festival, for example). With big events like that I try to stay close in so it’s easy to run “home” if I need a bathroom or a break from the festivities.
All of that said, I guess it mostly comes down to personal preference, and it depends mostly on what kind of experience you want. If you’re going to do a lot of bar-hopping, for instance, best to stay close in. But if you’re looking more for a relaxing, contemplative retreat I’d highly recommend the very quiet hillside apartment.
Speaking of quiet hillside apartments, here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/my2hyk3
I’m not sure what the summer rates are, or if it’s even available for your dates, but the view was pretty nice!
Anyway, I hope this helps, but please don’t hesitate to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further questions. Happy travels!
Hi! Thanks for the reply, sorry I’m so late in replying! We’re staying for 5 nights only so I think we will do what you have suggested and stay closer to the town just in case we want to pop back to snooze of shower etc. I’m really looking forward to our trip! Thank you for the advice this really helped very much! K
I’m always happy to help … and you’re very welcome. Have a wonderful trip, and I very much look forward to hearing whatever stories/observations you care to share.