Black Forest Region
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We are approaching the end our Germany tour now.  From Southern Bavaria, we went westward past the north shore of one of Europe's largest lakes, Lake Constance.  On a clear day, you could see Switzerland on the other side.  We had lunch in a place called Lindau.  I got a treat here.  Our guide, Janja, who is a fellow Italian espresso lover, told me there is a place here that serves the REAL THING!  Sure enough, this Italian deli did serve up a fine cup of espresso.  here are my photos of Lindau.  

 

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Somewhere along the way, we stopped to see an unusual church.  It looks unimposing from the outside, but is done in Rococo Style inside.  Here it is from postcards.

 

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We stayed the night at the Dorint hotel in Freiburg, a city of 200,000, nestled at the foothills of the Black Forest in Southwestern Germany.  Incidentally, this city, founded in 1120 A.D., is close to both Switzerland and France. Although there were picture taking opportunities here, it was raining miserably, which meant I was in no mood to take photos.  The next morning, we continued on north, and soon were in the Black Forest region.

The forest gets its name either from the densely packed pines that keep sunlight from reaching the ground, or from the fear early settlers had of this lonely, forbidding region.  It depends on who you ask.  But, for sure, this is the home of  - the cuckoo clock!   We stopped at a store along the highway and were greeted by the smiling owner, who served us medicine cup-sized servings of cherry wine.  We were then invited inside - to spend money, of course.   Upstairs, there was a cafeteria that features a local delicacy, chocolate cherry cake with whipped topping.  It was delicious.  Here are some pictures I took both inside and outside the establishment.  The clocks outside are huge, and they work.  The figures move around and they do various things.

The first photo was taken on the way to the store.  Such a rustic scene cried out to be captured for posterity.

 

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Along the way, we passed through Germany's fruit growing region.  Miles of Apple and Pear trees, Cherry trees and  vineyards.  We also saw fields of hops growing.  I wonder what they use those for?  The strawberry and white asparagus crops were in, and we passed many roadside stands that featured baskets of huge delicious-looking berries and apples.  I did get a bit tired of eating asparagus soup though.

Then, on to our final new destination, Heidelberg, Germany's oldest university town.  Perhaps some of you old-timers recall the Mario Lanza movie, The Student Prince?   Our sightseeing focused on the ruins of the old castle, with its 49,000-gallon 18th-century wine vat.  (It was empty when we got there -Drat!)   The first authentic record of the town goes back to 1146.   The university was founded in 1386.    Part of the castle was constructed between 1508 and 1544.  But the effects of accidental fires and war resulted in much of the castle being destroyed.  Parts were rebuilt several times, but only a small portion is still in use today.  These photos show various outside views of the castle and grounds, and sections of Heidelberg, as seen from the castle grounds.

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We drove on to Frankfurt after our visit to Heidelberg, so our tour ended where it had begun 11 days earlier.  We saw much of Germany during those days, and we all brought home fond memories of the historic and beautiful things we saw.  There were 44 of us, people from the U.S., Canada and Australia.  My final photo is of our gracious Tour Director, Janja Kobec (I hope I got the last name right.)  She was the best I have seen on my six tours.  

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Except for rain two days, the weather was ideal.  People were nice everywhere we traveled, except for a few individuals I had to deal with in the eastern Berlin and Potsdam areas.  But I soon forgot them.  The food was great, even though I was forced to eat sauerkraut one night.  But the sausage that came with it was good.  I got my fill of good German white wine, but I left the beer alone.  (Hey - I'm the guy who spent two days in Las Vegas without dropping a single coin in a slot machine.)  And those pastries and good bread - Yes!

I hope you enjoyed my descriptions and photos.

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