Monday, 23 May 2022

Black Forest Holiday - May 10

Tuesday morning came bright and early with the sun touching our glass-fronted room a while before we actually got up. Not that we really slept in during our week at the hotel, for various reasons: We usually went to bed early after a day spent walking and in the very good and clean air there; we did not wish to be late for breakfast, and we wanted to get going early enough to have plenty of time for our walks and anything else afterwards.

Our resident spider getting ready for breakfast.

Again, we left the car where it was and walked directly from the hotel, but in a different direction. When we'd been here in 2017, we had walked to a smaller lake nearby (Schlüchtsee - sounds similar to yesterday's Schluchsee, but is very different really) and to the village of Grafenhausen. We repeated that walk today and enjoyed it very much, the weather being perfect for such an outing and the walk itself being on rather moderate terrain with hardly any steep bits (and, at "only" about 16 km, also at least 10 km less than what we'd done the day before).

My little dream cottage in the woods! It belongs to a wildlife protection organisation and was shut; I took a picture of it back in 2017 as well.


Walking on to Grafenhausen

The road leading to Grafenhausen

Again, I took a very similar picture last time I was here in 2017.

Townhall and maypole in Grafenhausen's centre

Walking back the way we came

Back in time for coffee at the hotel and a quick turn in the sauna - which we had all to ourselves! - we then had to decide where to go for our evening meal, as the hotel's own restaurant is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. 

They had given us a list with recommended places, none of them close enough to go on foot. So we drove to one of the places on the list - only to find it completely full. We rang the next place on the list and found out they had enough space for us, and drove there on the narrow lanes through woodland and fields, making the entire journey towards our meal much longer than anticipated.

Our hotel's restaurant where we had breakfast and (apart from Mon and Tues) dinner.

This was our table for most meals.

Common room / lounge. I really like the style and feel of that room.

But the meal was excellent, and on our way back to the hotel afterwards, we saw the most beautiful evening sky (sorry, no photos, as the car was moving and the scenery changing too quickly).

Have a look at the above menue, displayed at our hotel. It is purely vegetarian and consists of four courses. For ONE person, it costs 72 € - that is, of course, without any drinks. 

We know that good quality food does not come cheap, and we are prepared to pay accordingly, but this struck us as a bit much, and neither of us ordered a full menue there. I had the vegetarian main course one evening (aubergine), and it was delicious and very filling. But forking out 72 € for "just veg"...? 

Compare this with the 51 € we paid that Tuesday evening for our complete meal for two at the restaurant we found on the list of recommendations - drinks and all! It was not a cheap place, either (Haringer Hof), and we were served well in clean and comfortable surroundings - this picture on their website shows the room were we sat.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Read in 2022 - 12: A Study in Stone

A Study in Stone by Michael Campling was (surprise, surprise!) a free ebook from Amazon's Kindle store - again, the first of a series, to make readers interested in the following books. I liked it well enough to consider reading on, also because this freebie was relatively short at 126 pages, and the main characters are interesting and a bit off the beaten track for me.

Dan Corrigan seeks the peace and quiet of a remote village after suffering the pressures of corporate life for too long. On a visit to the nearest town, a coded message engraved on a slab of stone piques his interest - and he discovers not only the truth behind the message, but also that he has not really lost his sharp mind and problem-solving skills.

I liked the way Dan's character is portrayed and how he strucks up a friendship with one of his new neighbours, also how the practicalities of the remote village setting are addressed (peaceful and quiet it may be, but where does one get a decent coffee here?).

The mystery involved is not about a current murder investigation, like most other mysteries I have been reading, but touches on subjects in the not so distant past - we are talking the Great War here, and how deserters were treated. What we know today as post-traumatic disorder was not really understood back then, and same as refusers, deserters were considered cowards and criminals, deserving the severest punishment.

I remember that during my visit to Richmond in 2016, we briefly looked at an exhibition in one of the ground floor wings of the buildings there. The centenary of the Great War was only 2 years ago then, and the exhibition from 2014 showed the cells where refusers were held and offered information about how they were dealt with. It was all rather horrible and sad, and at the time I did not blog about that particular aspect of my visit, but it has certainly had an impact on me.

Back to the book and the author: As I said, this was the 1st of a series, The Devonshire Mysteries. Michael Campling has his own website here; it is well worth a visit.

Friday, 20 May 2022

Black Forest Holiday: May 9 - Part II

After our attempt to have coffee and maybe cake or a snack in Faulenfürst failed, we walked towards the next village, a place called Rothaus. It was only a few km from there, and we knew it from our visit in September 2017

I don't know why this picture has turned out so grey-ish; believe me, it was much greener! Anyway, I liked the shape of that bent tree.

Ants are just one of the many species that make up the ecological system of the Black Forest. The woodland ones here are dark brown and rather large, about 1.5 cm in length, not the tiny ones that are so common where I live. They build big hills and are always busy; it is strictly forbidden to disturb or bother them in any way. But one can stand and watch them for a while, and I took this short video of one of the many bustling colonies next to the path:

Rothaus is the seat of a large state-owned brewery; their beer (called Tannenzäpfle, meaning fir cone - obviously inspired by the surrounding woods) comes in many varieties and is quite popular. It can be bought at supermarkets, and many restaurants offer it. Also, it is often available at fun fairs, festivals, village fêtes and the like.

By the time we arrived there mid-to-late afternoon, you can imagine we were looking forward to a refreshing shandy, and that was what we had... for starters!

Knowing that our hotel's restaurant was not open that evening and we would have to find dinner elsewhere, we decided to stay right here, and moved from the sunny beer garden into the brewery's own restaurant an hour or so later. There, we had proper solid food - Schnitzel with chips (French fries) for me, and a steak with all the trimmings for O.K., plus another shandy. 

The food was really good, and eventually, we made our way home through the woods, just another 4.5 km or so.

With more than 26 km under our belts on our first day here, we dropped into bed as early as 9:30 pm, already looking forward to tomorrow.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Black Forest Holiday: May 9 - Part I

The 9th of May was our first full day here, and the weather was promising for the hike we had in mind - dry but not too hot.

We left soon after breakfast, not without saying hello to the resident cat, a senior named Findus with few teeth left and only one good eye, but competely un-shy and very affectionate, always up for a stroke.

Walking up the gravel and dirt road directly behind the hotel lead us past beautiful meadows with a beck running through it and further on into the woods until we reached Schluchsee (the name of both the small town and the lake it borders). If I remember correctly, on our way there we met just one other person.

I loved this old signpost. And look how the trees were still in bloom here!

Hummelhütte means bumblebee hut. It was locked, but well cared for, and we believe that it is open for drinks and snacks on weekends and in the summer holidays.

Sumpfdotterblume (Caltha palustris)

Our aim was the viewing tower above Schluchsee, on the mount called Riesenbühl. We had our first glimpse of the tower here:

Can you spot it on the ridge behind the town?


Viewing spot in Schluchsee

Following the signposts to Riesenbühl took us out of the small town and up the hill through more meadows and back into the woods.
Sometimes the path was comfortable like this...
...sometimes it was like this:
Finally, the tower!
Views from the top in all directions:

View from the top down through the staircase:

We chose a different route back via a village called Faulenfürst, hoping to stop at a café there for coffee and maybe a snack or piece of cake, but the village was like a ghost town - there was nobody about, and a sign advertising a café lead to nothing. We did not even find a bakery or other shop there, and so decided to move on and walk to Rothaus instead. This, however, will be my next post, as this one is already a bit on the long side.