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Black Forest Holiday - October 2016

On a fine October day, 13 of us arrived in Titisee in the heart of the Black Forest via planes, trains and automobiles. Jonathan stayed in a Gasthaus (B&B) in Titisee and the rest of us were in a hostel on the outskirts of the town. Our first evening meal, for those arriving in time, was at a restaurant on a nearby campsite where we struggled to decipher the menu…only to discover that most dishes were variations of pork!

Friday - Ian led us on a circular walk from the hostel. The autumn colours were spectacular and we often heard Paul exclaim, "Oh would you look at that view"! We passed small chapels, ski jumps and friendly pigs, heard the tinkling of cowbells and walked through forests and farmland simply admiring the beautiful scenery. Hinterzarten was our afternoon stop for 'kaffee and kuchen' where we sampled some delicious Schwarzwald Kirschetorte (Black Forest gateau) and apple strudel. Rosie headed off with a map after lunch to do a shorter walk but when we got back to the hostel she hadn't returned. We had our evening meal but still no sign of Rosie and her phone was switched off. She finally arrived back in the dark, minus the map, after getting lost heading to the wrong hostel! Ian had kindly saved her some dinner so all was well and we were glad she had returned safely.

Saturday - A lovely dry and frosty morning. We walked from the hostel to Bärental passing one of the highest railway stations in Germany at 967m. From there we caught the bus to Feldbergerhof. Both 'A' and 'B' groups walked up to the Bismarck memorial and onto the snowy summit of the Feldberg (1493m), the highest mountain in the Baden-Württemberg region. The scenery was beautiful with snow-capped pines, frozen red berries and icicles glinting in the sunshine. From the summit, the 'A' party walked down the mountain and had lunch with a great view looking out across mountains and forests. We walked by the Zastlerhütte before stopping at the Raimartihof hütte for tea and cake! From there we walked back to the hostel at Titisee. The 'B' party climbed the Schinkenturm (Ham Tower!) at the summit of the Feldberg and then did a circular walk, via a hütte for tea and cake, before heading down the mountain and catching the bus and train back to Titisee.

We had dinner in the campsite restaurant and were much more confident with the menu this time!

Sunday - A cloudy start with light rain. We walked into Titisee and caught the train for a scenic ride to Schluchsee. After morning coffee (and maybe a little cake for some!) we walked along the lakeshore, saw a black squirrel and admired the autumn colours reflected in the water. After lunch we headed uphill through the lovely beech and pine forest where we saw lots of huge ant's nests made from pine needles. Then on to Bildstein, with its viewpoint overlooking lake and forests, before heading down for kaffee and kuchen at a lovely restaurant overlooking the lake at Windgfällweiher. The heavens then opened and we had a speedy walk, slightly off-piste (!), to the railway station at Altglasshütten-Falkau where we caught the train back to Titisee. Helen had arrived and we enjoyed our evening meal in the hostel.

Monday - Our day off. Ian, Paul & John had a jolly day out on the trains visiting Offenbach and Schilltach, a mediaeval village with beautiful buildings and good cake. Andy & Jackie walked to lake Feldsee and then enjoyed a boat trip on the lake at Titisee. Jonathan went to Friedrichshafen to visit the Zeppelin museum and the lake Bodensee. The rest of us took the train into Freiburg where we spent the morning exploring, visiting the Münster and walking up to the tower with fabulous surrounding views. Debbie, Gail & Margaret then returned to Titisee and visited the spa. Apparently swimming costumes were not required in the sauna upstairs and the ladies had to be reminded of the proper 'towel etiquette'! I shall say no more! Heather, Helen, Rosie, Simon and I explored the older town of Freiburg before catching the train to Breisach where we walked up to the Münster and Rathaus (town hall) with lovely views across the Rhine. We then headed back to Titisee where we met the railway enthusiasts and Jonathan and had a meal in town.

Tuesday - On our morning walk into Titisee the lake was still and the reflections on the water were stunning. We caught the train to Titisee-Neustadt and changed onto a single track to Löffingen. We walked to Rötenbach past 14 Stations of the Cross, and a candle shop. Elevenses were enjoyed by the Rathaus with its colourful window boxes before starting the Rötenbach gorge walk. We followed a narrow winding path by the gorge crossing footbridges and weaving our way uphill and downhill through some beautiful, quiet, unspoilt woodland. Our lunch spot was at the convergence of two rivers where we saw a dipper and some birds skimming across the water. Our path continued by a viaduct and we waited a little while at a viewpoint to see if a train would come along, but to no avail. We were rewarded later on with a train sighting a little further along the path! Our walk ended at Kappel, with its lovely church and we caught the bus back to Titisee-Neustadt and train to Titisee. Unfortunately we were running late for our 6pm meal at the hostel so John speed-walked back to the hostel and the rest of us trailed in his wake. Hot food was ready and waiting for us on our return. For those with some extra energy, a ping-pong tournament took place after dinner and John was the victor.

Wednesday - A foggy day with little visibility across the lake on our walk into Titisee. We caught the train to Freiburg, then tram and bus to Shauinsland before taking the cable car up the mountain through the fog! The Shauinsland cable car is Germany’s longest loop cable car and takes you up to 1284m above sea level in 20 minutes! We climbed the tower at the top, had lunch and then headed down through the deep dark forest. Visibility was poor due to the fog so we had to stay close but Ian expertly guided us through the forest to the Rappenecker hütte where we shared apple strudel (supplies were limited!). Outside there was a lovely little chapel but you could only get to it via a narrow path between fields of overly friendly highland cows with extra large horns! We continued on our merry way downhill and heard the sound of cowbells drifting up towards us through the mist. The walk ended at Kirchzarten where we caught the train back to Titisee. The group then enjoyed a lovely meal in a Deutsche/Italian restaurant in Titisee seated around a large table. More apple strudel was eaten!

Thursday - Departure day. Rosie went on to stay in Freiburg, John travelled to Strasbourg and the rest of us headed homewards to the UK.

A huge 'Vielen Dank' to Ian for organising such a brilliant holiday which we all thoroughly enjoyed.