Germany’s Black Forest is known for cuckoo clocks and for mystical forests that inspired tales such as Hansel and Gretel. While the landscapes and offerings of the many towns of Schwarwald do lend themselves to these legends, there are many other gems in the Black Forest just waiting to be uncovered by the inquisitive tourist. With our home base in Triburg, Michael and I set out to explore some of the nearby towns and we don’t have to venture far.
About 30 minutes up the road, we find the Dorotheenhutte Wolfach glass blowing factory and museum in a little town called Baden-Wurttemberg. People across the globe have been blowing glass for over two millennia to make beautiful glasses, vases, bowls, and even Christmas ornaments, and the museum had a wide range of artifacts that had all been created in the Black Forest. While the 20 minute video and displays did not have English subtitles, you could get the gist of what was being explained and it was quite interesting. The highlight of the stop is, of course, the live demonstrations where two gentlemen make vase after vase for an eager crowd. Now, I have been to glass blowing attractions in the states, but I do not remember having the opportunity to jump in and be a part of the action. Here, you can make your own vase for 15 Euro, which is quite a deal.
Michael, being the crafty one of this duo, is designated as our blower (plus, he has plenty of hot air to spare), and I choose the color and style of the vase. The professionals do an excellent job of making this entertaining for the on-lookers as well as making the amateurs feel like a part of the action. Our professional (we will call him Hans), grabs some molten glass and spins it into a hot, orange glob. Hans speaks perfect English and he makes pleasant conversation as he works, telling us of his travels as a glass blower. He then walks over to a range of metal trays which have small pebbles of colored glass that are already cooled. He sticks the hot glob of glass into our three different colors, allowing the glass pebbles to stick to it. Hans then walks over to the oven and sticks the speckled glob into the inferno, spinning it the whole time. Hans shapes and cools, and shapes the hot glass a bit more until it is Michael’s turn to blow some hot air. After some quick instruction, Hans holds the stick up to Michael’s mouth and he blows into the glass, changing the shape of the glob. Hans spins the stick more and more and Michael blows again until it starts to look more like a vase. Hans smooths the bottom, indents the slowly cooling glass at the rim, and takes the stick to the cooling area where he taps the rod and the vase pops off the stick and onto the cooling pad. Twenty minutes later, Michael’s vase is smoothed at the top and ready for us to take home – who knew he could blow so well! Dorotheenhutte Wolfach was definitely a great stop and worth every minute.
We hop back in the car and head just a few minutes down the road to another small town. It looks pretty cute and we are getting a bit hungry, so we drive off the path, find a parking spot, and walk down the cute little main street in search of a light lunch. We decide to stop at a small café to grab a small baguette which, in every other town has been a simple feat. Not in Smallville, Germany. The waitress doesn’t seem to speak much English, so we point on the menu to our salami baguette and hold up our fingers for two. Next thing I know, the waitress brings over two sandwiches that are more than a foot long and at least three pounds apiece complete with melted cheese, fresh cold cuts, and three different salads. You heard me – three different salads. We had a curry rice salad, potato salad, and sweet carrot salad. This plate would rival some of the larger meals we have had – so much for a light lunch! We chow down and it was delicious! The bread was fresh from this morning and the range of salads allowed a different experience with each bite.
Uncomfortably full, but satisfied, we waddle around the town and stumble upon what we would call a neighborhood yard sale, but the Germans are calling a market – makes selling old junk sound much more exciting. The market is arranged along the river, so we walk along and see a ton of huge trout taunting us down the stream. What I wouldn’t give for a fishing pole!
Thirty minutes later, we are back in the car and heading to the Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof where a small village of thatched roof houses has been recreated to give folks an idea of how people in this area lived way back in the day. Apparently this piece of the Black Forest was pretty heavy into logging, so there is a lot to do with that trade as we walk through the exhibit. While some items have been recreated, there are several homes that date back to the 1500s. The rooms are surprisingly very chilly and full of spider webs which signifies a no-go for this girl!
After a nice day exploring day of old, we head back to our home base of Triberg. Since there are very few restaurants to choose from, we decide to go back to Poseidon since the food was so good the night before. We walk in the door and Dimitri runs over as if we are regulars, and his best friends to boot. He shouts, “Hey Mike!” and nestles beside me while saying “Hey Baby!” We order our meals and drink our ceremonial shot of Ouzo – again, on the house. We are the only people in the restaurant, so Dimitri pulls up a chair next to me and talks to us during our meal in a mixture of Greek and broken English making the expression, “it is all Greek to me,” much more real than ever before. Michael and I do a lot of smiling and nodding, which seems to get Dimitri excited, so he talks faster and his big bushy eyebrows jump up and down, signifying different inflections. He explains that no one is out and about because there is a big soccer match going on and people watch that at home. He tells us of his twins. He tells us about his military background and of the trials and tribulations of the restaurant business. Then he starts getting into the juicy stuff, describing his love affair with an American woman – TMI!! All I can say is, thank goodness we got that free shot of ouzo!
The meal was, once again, fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed my calamari which was perfectly cooked. At the end of the meal, we wait for a break in the conversation to ask for our check and Dimitri runs off. He doesn’t come back with the check, but with dessert – fresh slices of apple with a drizzle of honey and small glob of whipped cream. We thank him for his hospitality and, since he has brought us a free treat, gobble some of it down even though we are stuffed to the gills. Dimitri starts talking again and we begin to wonder if we will ever get out of there. Poor guy – no customers, no American woman (she left him), and so many stories! Eventually, we pay the check (which had a two euro charge for that free dessert…..sneaky Dimitri) and bid our Greek friend a fond farewell – bless his heart.