When I booked our hotel in the Black Forest, I chose Triberg for two reasons – cuckoo clocks and the highest waterfall in Germany. Though we will be staying here for three more days, we planned to spend this first day in town checking out these touristy draws and we are not disappointed. The hotel gave us a discount card that includes free admission to the town museum and to the waterfall itself. So, after a little breakfast, we head over to the entrance to the Wasserfall and take advantage of this little perk.
Everything we have read about this wasserfall indicates that the trek to see it is about 15-20 minutes so we assume, given German math, that it will take at least an hour. We are wrong this time – the waterfall is just a quick jaunt up the path and is truly about 15 minutes to the bottom of the falls. The walk is pleasant and, as we see the pretty waterfall before us, Michael and I realize just how lucky we really are. Yes, the walk up the hill and the wasserfall before us are very nice, but they pale in comparison to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and waterfalls of North Carolina which we see on a regular basis.
We take a few pictures at the base and start the trek up the hill to the top of the falls. There are two paths to choose from and we cannot read a word on the sign, but the pictures pretty much say it all. Michael, in a fit of insanity, chooses the path to the right, and the next thing I know we are hiking up a 90 degree incline (well, probably more like 65 degrees, but it felt like 90) to reach the top. As we gasp for air with each step, the overly active and athletic Germans bounce up the incline past us at daunting speeds. Even the old people are bustling up the mountain like it is nothing. I swear, at one point, I look to my left and there is a 120 year old woman with a walker speeding past me, laughing, and waving a schnitzel.
Once we reach the top, we load up the cameras with frozen memories, take in the pretty sight, and make our way back down the mountain for our next adventure. The weather is cool and a bit drizzly, which is just fine with me – it is supposed to be cool and damp in the forest. The woods around us are nowhere near as mystifying as we thought they would be. In fact, they really don’t look that different than the paths and trails that I have been hiking all my life in good old Pisgah Forest, NC.
Refreshed after our jaunt with nature, we head to the Black Forest Museum to peek through the area’s history. None of the displays are in English, so we walk through at a decent pace, looking at hundreds of years of clocks, clothing, musical instruments, Olympic memorabilia, and mining history.
Now it’s time to find the perfect clock in the capital of cuckoo. Now, we have seen cuckoo clocks in virtually every single tourist destination and shop we have entered in Germany. They come in all sizes and price ranges and most of them claim to be Made in Germany – hinting at their authenticity. As the cuckoo clock capital, Triberg definitely has its share of shops dedicated to the little bird that pops its head out every half hour. We make our way through several shops, but it isn’t until we find Oli’s Schnitzube, that we find the best clocks.
As we enter the shop, Oli is in his workshop to our right, hand carving clock decorations into wood and staining them right in front of us. To our left, a woman who has to be in her mid-60s comes bouncing over with a big smile to greet us – we’ll call her Cuckoo Clara. The shop isn’t that busy at the moment, but she tells us that this has been a crazy week. We tell her we are just browsing through and she cheerily tells us that the clocks are upstairs and to just give her a shout if we have any questions. We head upstairs and try to take in the walls and walls of clocks – wanting them all and not sure which one we will actually take home. After a few minutes, Cuckoo Clara joins us and asks us what we know about the clocks. We admit, very little, and she glows with excitement as she dives into a bit of their history and begins to tell us about the different types of clocks in perfect English.
Apparently, Bavarians began making cuckoo clocks in the mid-1800s as a way to pass the time (no pun intended) during the harsh winters. Cuckoo Clara explains that the original clocks only had a cuckoo bird and not all of the dancers – those were added later. Now days, many of the clocks that are “Made in Germany” are only pieced together in Germany…..the pieces are pre-made and shipped in from China. A select few clockmakers make the pieces by hand and put them all together to make a cuckoo clock. Oli’s Schnitzube sells both kinds of clocks – those with pieces made in China, and those they make themselves, one piece at a time. After 7-10 minutes of our personal tour through the shop and examination of the different types of clocks, Michael and I know we have to have the real thing. We pick out a more original clock and place an order with Cuckoo Clara. She gets excited and grabs Oli so that he can talk to us about our order to make sure he knows exactly what we want. He and his two colleagues will make our clock by hand and ship it to the US when it is done in a few weeks. These clocks cannot be ordered online – only here at the shop in Triberg, and we are elated that we will have a little piece of German craftsmanship in our home.
Worn out and ready for a break, we head down the street for a mid-day snack – some Black Forest Cake from the place to have a slice- Café Shafer. The café is on the main strip (really, the only strip in Triberg) but it is not really close to anything else. We march down the street on a mission to sample this legendary treat. The café is small, quiet and not overly busy at the moment. We peer into the large display case and see a huge, fluffy Black Forest Cake hanging out with a bunch of other pies and desserts that look almost too good to eat….almost. In a continuous effort to sample as many different things as possible, we each order a different dessert – Michael orders the Black Forest Cake, and I order the apple pie – we are, after all in the land of the apple obsessed. The lady behind the counter tells us she will bring us our sweets and cappuccinos so we plop down and wait for the yummy to ensue. The sweet heaven is placed before us along with “cappuccinos for the love birds” which have cute little hearts sprinkled on top – cute! Black Forest Cake is comprised of several thin layers of chocolate cake, separated by homemade whipped cream, and a layer of cherry filling. The cake is then sprinkled (in this case, drowned) with a liquor that is unique to Germany’s Black Forest – Kirschwasser. Michael takes a bite of the Black Forest goodness and relishes the strong flavor. It is very light and airy and the cherry and chocolate combination was incredible but boy oh boy, did it pack a bit of a punch with the Kirschwasser! I took a bite and whew….it was like eating a shot. My apple pie was light and had a crumbly crust that resembled a Dutch Apple Pie, but was nowhere near as sweet. The cappuccino was to die for and we enjoyed a sweet treat as locals came into the café for a relaxing treat themselves.
After a nice snack, we spend the rest of the day strolling around Triberg, where we also found the largest cuckoo clock ever. It is far away from the touristy things and is literally in a small neighborhood right outside the town. Apparently, the man who lives there spent three years making this clock as a hobby, and people can now come and look at it and watch it chime every half hour. Too cool!
A bit more exploring, then we head back to the hotel to enjoy our balcony which overlooks the town from the hill. Triberg is a very, very small town and the entire town shuts down around 6pm – so we have plenty of time to relax and plan our next day’s adventures. In asking the guy at the front desk for dinner recommendations, he only presented three options, and we ate one last night. We go with option number two – Poseidon, a Greek restaurant a short walk away. It is around 7:30 when we walk in and we are one of two couples in the entire restaurant. A cheerful Greek man, Dimitri, walks over, happily greets us, and takes our drink order. He returns a few minutes later with a big, huge glass of wine that looks like most of a bottle, a half litre of beer, and two big, fat shots of ouzo that are on the house. Let me just say – that stuff burns! We both order combination meals which allow us to try a sampling of Greek cuisine. Mine had a big chunk of calamari, which we discover is actually cuddlefish. It is fried to perfection and lightly crunchy and not rubbery in the least. The entire meal is fantastic!
Dimitri keeps coming over and talking to us in broken English and seems to be very happy that we are there and that we are talking to him. Absolutely stuffed, we thank him and ask for the check. He returns a few minutes later with two more shots – on the house – that are fruity, smooth, and incredibly good. I ask Dimitri what they are and he replies “a love cocktail for you” and smiles really big, pats Michael on the shoulder and says – eh Mike? As we leave the restaurant, Dimitri gives us big Greek hugs and keeps looking at me and saying, “Hey Baby” because he thinks my name is Baby rather than Bambi. Such a great dinner and a new, wild and crazy Greek friend!