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Trip Report Our vacation in Black Forest

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I am not so talented at writing long reports and I do not think that too many details regarding what we eat are interesting and relevant for others.
So, as I make almost always, I will give a brief description of our holiday in Germany (Baden Wurtenberg) and in Alsace, in the second half of October 2011.

I got the idea of ​​the trip when I received some pictures (in an email message) , showing images of Chrysanthemum Festival in Lahr. I have found it very beautiful, I started looking for details about this festival, and then I looked for more things to be visited in the area.

We had been in this part of Europe 15 years ago and visited several places like Freiburg, Donauschingen, Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Colmar, Mainau island, Meersburg. Now we went with another family friends, so we decided to include in the itinerary some of the places where we had been, but our friends not.

With the help of the advices received in this forum and others, we planed the trip route for two weeks vacation.
I oscillated between the transport by train or by car, and ultimately we combined. I used the car to visit the places where it was harder to go by train (because there was not direct train to there, or the train schedule was not good enough for us, or we wanted to visit in the same day two or three places).

We received a lot of advices to stay in a place where Konus card is available, giving the possibility of free travel by train. However, because of other things important for us, I did not follow this advice, and I did not regret. As we have decided to make daily trips to different parts of the area, we tried to stay in a town located near a railway station, to have direct links by train to reach different destinations without the need for changes train. So I decided to stay in Offenburg. So, it was very easy to travel from and to airport in Frankfurt, with direct train .
It is true that we have not received Konus Card, but the train ticket prices in Germany is not so expansive. Especially since we were 4 people traveling together, and often we could use a special ticket for 2-5 persons at a price of 29 Euro, valid for one day for all four.

Many people insisted to stay in a picturesque small town, like Gengenbach, not only because Konus card, but also to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of that place.
However, we are folks around 60 +, had no power after a day trip to continue to walk through the town, no matter how nice it is. And in addition, the small towns, after 1-2 days you know them very well, it is no longer a surprise and we would probably not be excited every night to walk again and again. And in mid-October the days are quite short, darkness falls quickly. In Germany, stores close around 6 pm and the streets of empty.
So, I preferred to give up the idea of staying in a very small town.

For us, Offenburg was perfect: small, with very good rail links to airport and for day trips, close enough to the sightseeing we planed to visit.

The vacation was very varied, including cities (Strasbourg, Colmar, Freiburg, Konstanz, Baden-Baden), castles (Sigmaringen, Ludwigsburg, Hohenzollern), festivals (the Chrysanthemum in Lahr and pumpkins in Ludwigsburg), lakes (Titisee, Mummelsee), fall (Triberg), picturesque small towns (Rottweil, Gengenbach, Hausach, Lauffen, Besigheim).

We had only two hotels on this trip: one in Offenburg (Hotel Central - very well located in the center and near the train station, great room, breakfast buffet very good ), and in Hechingen (2 km. from the Hohenzollern castle) (hotel -Gasthof Loewe - huge room, rich breakfast and good hotel restaurant, nice view of the castle from the room).

Day after day, the route was as follows:


Day 1: Arrive by train in Offenburg, from Frankfurt airport
Day 2: Day trip from Offenburg to Starsbourg, by train
Day 3: Took car for 7 days., Moved to Hechingen. Visit - Hohenzollern castle
Day 4: Day trip from Hechingen to Ludwigsburg Palaceand Pumpkin Festival
Day 5 day trip from Hechingen to: Maulbronn, Lauffen, Besigheim
Day 6: Day trip from Hechingen to Sigmaringen castle and to Rottweil
Day 7: from Hechingen to Triberg and Titisee. Arrive in the evening in Offenburg, We stayed till the end of the vacation at the same hotel as we stayed at the beginning of the trip (Central Hotel )
Day 8: Day trip from Offenburg to Colmar - by car
Day 9: Day trip from Baden-Baden to Offenburg Mummelsee by car
Day 10: In the morning we returned the car, from now, till the end of the trip, we Traveled by train
Day trip to Konstanz
Day 11: Day trip from Offenburg to Freiburg
Day 12: Day trip from Offenburg to Gengenbach.
Day 13: Day trip from Offenburg to Lahr, see Chrisantemum festival
Day 14: Day trip from Offenburg to Hausach, in the evening go by train to Frankfurt, fly home

The weather was very good for this time of the year, it did not rain. Mornings and nights were quite cold, but during the day was sunny and pleasant temperature of 13-19 ° C.

It is very difficult to say what we liked most. The trip was very varied, including museums, castles, landscapes, festivals. In addition, a special charm was added rusty color of autumn leaves.

I'll just enumerate below some of the things we liked most:

Day 2 - Strasbourg Cathedral, with sculptures and very beautiful stained glass .
Ride on the boat, Little France, t new and modern buildings of European institutions.
Train station - new, modern metal and glass building
Old buildings, culminating with The Kammerzell House, very ornate and well preserved. We ate lunch here (very tasty), so we could see the inside of this remarkable building. There are lavish frescoes on all walls by Léo Schnug..

Days 3,4,6 - the visit of the Castles. Visit by guided tour only, is not allowed take do photos or video. Each of these three castles is a gem.
Hohenzollern is beautifully situated on top of the rock, there's a splendid view of around.
Ludwigsburg is enormous.We visit the "only" about 70 rooms, the tour is 90 minutes and receive information so interesting about the history of the place.
Sigmaringen castle is located in the heart of a nice town on a hill above the Danube. Especially impressive are here hunting trophies.
For us, as people born in Romania, we were especially interested in Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern, because Romanian kings were part of the Hohenzollern dynasty.

Day 5 - Besigheim - is a very small and nice town, small streets with nice medieval houses, a lot of shops and coffee shops.

Laufen has a very nice position on the Neckar river. The view of the river, the bridges and the windows of the houses with a lot of red flowers, all the trees with red-yellow leaves make this small town very nice.

Maulbronn was founded Around the Cistercian monastery. The former Cistercian monastery is an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.
Legend says that the settlement was founded by Monks who followed a mule to the valley with a source of clean water. . The town name means mule fountain.
According to legend, the Monks also invented the pasta dish Maulbronn , named Maultasche.
The Monastery is the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monastery complex in Europe and is separated from the town by fortifications. The ceiling is decorated very nice, in different colors and shapes.Maulbronn Abbey will be shown on the reverse of the coin for 2013 € 2 Commemorative Germany.

Day 6 - Rottweil was a very nice surprise for us. We arrived in a sunny Sunday afternoon . All the people were walking, eating and drinking on the streets, orchestra plays, etc.. It was the festive reopening of pedestrian old center. The architecture of the old medieval center is unique, closed painted and gilded balconies at each house. On the main pedestrian street there is a statue of the cute Rottweiler dog .

Day 8 - Colmar is a jewel, with half-timbered two-story houses Along the river, all houses in pastel colors, flowers on all windows. Unterlinden Museum, situated in a former Dominican religious sisters' convent with beautiful architecture. Isenheim Altar is vey interesting. There are sections of paintings, archeology, medieval, Renaissance and Baroque sculpture, weapons, furniture, music instruments, ornate wine barrels), modern and contemporary art.
Very nice and interesting is museum Bartholdi, in the house which belonged to Frederick Bartholdi, the French sculptor who designed Liberty Statue. The museum includes a large collection of models of statues and monuments created by the sculptor. Also, you can see the very nice rooms where the sculptor lived: his office, a music room, dining room with a ceiling encrusted with China. There are a lot of portraits of Bartholdi's ancestors. There are shown Orientalist artworks made during the his trip to Egypt and Yemen. There are a lot of models of the public monuments and statues created by Bartholdi for different French towns.

Day 9 - Baden-Baden is very beautiful. Many say it is not much to see in Baden-Baden, but for us it was a revelation! We started with a tour of the casino. The guided visit is in the morning before opening rooms for those who bet. Rooms are beautiful, rich decorated, and the guide gives details about the history of the place.
The city has elegant streets, big houses, statues, fountains ..
Then we visited the Faberge Museum, opened two years ago. It presents a large collection of original Faberge works (not too many eggs), but many statues, clocks, table services. There is also a small shop where you can buy a piece of jewelry at enough low prices.
A highlight of the trip was the Frida Kahlo Museum. It is very well organized, there is the reproduction of Casa Azul of Frida in Mexic, Includes over 100 oil paintings, licensed Replicas, arranged chronologically. So visiting the exhibition you learn about artist's life (you are given a printed guide, which describes the history of each panel).

Day 10 - Konstanz - another nice trip! The ride was long, about 2 hours, but very comfortable. The old city center, with Huss's house, with plenty of houses with painted walls, with statues, fountains, is very nice. We finished the day with a walk on the lake, looking at revolving statue of Imperia, and very nice dinner at a restaurant on the lake.

Day 12 - Gengenbach is the most beautiful small, small town visited. All buildings, streets, towers, Town hall, the statues (some scenes from children's stories), are splendid .At Michelangelo coffee shop we ate the best profiterole and drank the best cappuccino.

Days 4 and 13 - Festivals. Although we are not children, pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg excited us. This year's theme was dinosaurs, so many pumpkins were arranged to form statues of dinosaurs and other animals. Giant pumpkins were present, reaching over 700 Kg. each, there were also very small pumpkins, or pumpkins of different colors and shapes. The exhibition was in Ludwigsburg Palace park.

Chrysanthemum Festival in Lahr was so nice!. We visited in first day of opening. Streets flooded with chrysanthemums, they adorned the houses, towers, or represented landscapes of Mexico, the tower of Pisa, butterflies, gargle, etc.. In the center was a scene where was presented Miss Lahr, an orchestra (Boss Italy) played, people were sitting at tables, eating and drinking and listening to music on the surrounding buildings, decorated with flowers.

I have listed only some things of which we liked more on this trip. It is a very beautiful area, and I recommend to every body to visit it. People are nice, everything is clean and well organized, the prices are slightly lower than in other parts of Europe, the food is very good. Our trip combined nature with museums, palaces and cities, so it was very diverse. We could be disconnected from everyday problems, to rest and feel well.

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