Our AirBnB was closer to the end of the prescribed route we had purchased, so we took the tour backwards and started with the castle in Ortenberg. I have no idea what the history behind this particular castle is. I do know that the views of the valley from the watchtower are great, and that it is home to a youth hostel. So if you want to sleep like a king, here’s a place you can do so.
Next stop was the medieval town of Gegenbach. Our pdf included a copy of the city walking tour with all kinds of information, but you know, we are having some fatigue when it comes to learning about each little town or building or statue, so our main goals for touring now seem to be enjoying the scenery and architecture, taking photos, and finding coffee. We definitely found coffee in Gegenbach and enjoyed the warm weather outside while we watched people wander by.
Saying Auf Wiedersehen to Gegenbach, we programmed the GPS for Gutach. We weren’t exactly sure of the address of the Open Air Museum, so we did our trick of typing in the town, and then Hauptstrasse (Main Street). Upon arriving in town, it didn’t seem right to us, and after rereading our guide, we realized that there are two towns named Gutach (and actually somewhat close to each other – why?). Now I know there is Gutach and Gutach im Breisgau.
Our little delay put us at the Open Air Museum (Freilichtmuseum) an hour later than planned, but, really our plan was to follow the route at will, so, no problem. I had been to a Freilichtmuseum in Austria, and had been trying to explain to H just what one is. (There is one in Switzerland that is on our agenda next month.) The easiest way to say what these are is to compare them to places like Colonial Williamsburg or Sturbridge Village. You’ll find old, original buildings, mostly farm and work buildings (like blacksmiths, weavers, etc.) where people sometimes demonstrate their craft. Of course, there are plenty of farm animals around, too. The Vogstbauernhof Freilichtmuseum gives you an idea of life in the Schwarzwald 400-600 years ago.
How thoughtful of the good people of Gutach am Breisgau to have food stands right outside the museum so we could have lunch. I indulged myself with fried potatoes with cut-up bratwurst and bacon, and H had a currywurst.
Right next to the Freilichtmuseum is a Rodelbahn, or a Luge-type ride for children of all ages. We stepped right up in line with all the kids and jumped into our own little cars. With a minimum of instruction (put on your seat belt – push the stick forward to go, hold back to slow down and stop) we were pulled up the hill by cable until we reached the top. Two minutes later we were climbing out and saying how mild it was compared to our sledging adventure. You can get a perfect idea of what it was all about on this youtube video.
Each of these mini-adventures might have made a half-day/whole day excursion in itself, but we were on a roll to our final destination – Germany’s highest waterfalls in Triberg. Now, the hills in the Schwarzwald are not what you would call large mountains, so it takes a series of seven cascades to count as the highest waterfalls, and you don’t have to go to the very top to enjoy the view. In fact, you don’t have to climb very far after the entrance to see the first (or last?) cascade. You may buy peanuts at the entrance to feed the squirrels, but for people who know me know that I am not a squirrel fan (the pesky non-native squirrels in California eat my fruit and vegetables – grrrr), and I also think that wildlife should be wild.
The last must-do for the day was to eat some Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) with cherry liquor in the filling. We found a restaurant with outdoor seating next to a stream and enjoyed our slices.