Traveling through Germany is always fun, but it’s important to take a breather. Read about how I made sure to relax abroad in my last article!
After our pitstop in Cologne, Germany, we were on our way to Frankfurt. Unfortunately, we were only there for a single evening. We were only able to glimpse at what Frankfurt had to offer. What was most striking was the strange blend of architecture. Next to sleek modern towers were Gothic churches and the quintessential timber-framed buildings. Although nobody mentioned the building dichotomy it was very striking to see the architectural results of World War II decades after the bombings.
We had dinner at a traditional German restaurant – complete with pints of beer, long benches and tables, and even a candelabra here and there. Nikos bought each table their own pitcher of apple wine, which I was thrilled to indulge in. I wound up trying a venison dish complemented with steamed vegetables and herb dip simply known as “green sauce” – the highlight of the meal.
Pit Stop While Traveling Through Germany at the Black Forest
The next morning, we all woke up early to continue our journey south towards Italy. As I watched the rolling hills turn into the dense forest, I heard someone mention that we were going to take a pit stop in the Black Forest.
“Wait… really?” I asked, eyes widening in amazement, “I thought that place was just a fairy tale!”
Much to my chagrin, everyone around me erupted into laughter. Why the English major didn’t know that the Black Forest was a real place was a loss even to myself. Nonetheless, it was exciting looking out the window into the impenetrable forest. Hazy fog swirled between the trees, adding an air of mystery to the whole day. I thought about all the Grimm fairy tales I’d heard as a kid – both the nice versions and the not-so-nice ones. Satisfied with the other worldly view outside the bus window, I returned to reading my copy of The Hobbit and listening to the Cranberries. I couldn’t have asked for a better backdrop to reading a fantasy novel.
House of 1000 Clocks
We pulled to the side of the road where there was a narrow pathway that led towards a small bridge that crossed a creek. I could hear it babbling as it passed over the river rocks. I spent a long time just looking around, trying not to squeal. I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy novels and experiencing such a magical place made it easy to see why the Black Forest inspired so many of them. As we walked along the trail, an enormous clock came into view – it was the face of the House of 1000 Clocks. It seemed like some sort of tiny village way out in the middle of nowhere. There was a hotel, a cafeteria, and lots, and lots of clocks.
I ran into the gift shop/clock shop to look around. It was filled from floor to ceiling with cuckoo clocks in different sizes and intricacies. Unfortunately, most of them were well out of my budget. I didn’t want to go and blow over half of my spending money all in one place, barely halfway through our trip. But boy, do I wish I had one of those cuckoo clocks. They were beautifully crafted. I couldn’t help but think of the giant wind-up grandfather clock my grandparents had when I was a kid. I settled on buying matching beanies with all my friends (I still wear it on especially cold days). We stayed long enough to watch the giant clock outside chime, and then we were on our way again.
A Spontaneous Detour to a Swiss Waterfall
As a surprise, Nikos took us on a small detour to visit Rhine Falls, Europe’s largest plains waterfall. The view from above was stunning, but was even more awe-inspiring after a trip down the glass elevator. The only other waterfall I’d seen before had been Niagara Falls. It almost seemed to pale in comparison to the Rhine, just because the viewing platforms were incredible. We were able to stand incredibly close to all of that powerful water, and at different levels to boot! After a decent amount of time gawking and imagining the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water rushing by, we decided to take a quick hike along the water’s edge and explore downstream.
Surrounded by forest and traveling down a knobby path, I quickly began imagining all of the fantasy settings I’d ever read. It was so easy to place myself into all of the old stories that had filled my head as a kid. These were the stories that had inspired me to become a writer myself. After waving at some canoers, we decided to head back to the bus. It was just a few more hours until we reached Lucerne, Switzerland.
Traveling through Germany is an experience I will never forget. Our Dreams Abroad facebook community is always here to answer any questions about traveling and living in places like Germany. Join me next time for our first day in Lucerne and our visit up the Swiss Alps!