Exploring the Black Forest, part II

 

Last time, I started talking about hiking through the Black Forest in Germany from Titisee to Hinterzarten. It was a great way to spend a relaxing Sunday!

tree line.
Most of the forest was shady and snowy, but the snow had melted in a few sunnier places….

contrast.

Part of our hike took us across the railroad tracks. The trains in Germany are so convenient for getting around!

deutsche bahn.

Near the end of our hike, outside Hinterzarten, we stumbled upon a kids’ ski jump competition in action! Each competitor skied down the second slope from the left….

ski practice.

We hung around for a while and watched the competition. I’ve never skied, and I was so impressed with all these young kids who made it look so easy!

Here’s a quick video of one kid’s awesome jump:

This week, our study abroad program takes us to Luxembourg, Brussels, and Paris to see institutions of the EU as well as meet delegates, bankers, and more. I’m sooo looking forward to seeing each of the cities and learning about them! And I can’t wait to share more about it when I get back! : )

Exploring the Black Forest, part I

Last Sunday…

My friend and I had the chance to go for a short hike through Schwarzwald (the Black Forest) from Titisee to Hinterzarten. Titisee is a small village about 45 minutes away from Freiburg by train, famous for its huuuge lake which gets frozen solid in the dead of winter.

titisee.frozen lake.

Before we started our hike, we stopped for a quick bite in Titisee, and came across all these stunning, intricate clocks….

cuckoo clocks.

And we learned that the first cuckoo clocks were invented in the Black Forest!

After lunch, we started on the hiking path to the next village, Hinterzarten, which was about 3 miles away. It mostly wound through the forest or open, snow-covered fields featuring the occasional old barn or newer getaway house.

hiking trail.

black forest streams.

These extremely tall trees remind me of the pine trees back at home in Georgia. They look so calm and serene in their habitat, the forest.

the tallest tree.

We also came across a kids’ ski-jump competition in action. I’ll share more on this in part II! : )

This Week in Pictures

 

Here’s a few photos from this week! Around Freiburg….

lane.

And one of my favorite things about an average week — gelato!

gelato.

Inside Mensa Drei, home of some great currywurst + intense hot sauces, and a fave among our study abroad group:
mensa drei.

Sunset on the countryside around Schauinsland after our field trip….

sunset over Schauinsland.

And lastly, a sidewalk cafe – Starbucks style! I usually end up here about once a week – they’re one of the few places in Freiburg with free wifi.

sidewalk starbucks.

I’m having a super busy weekend — this morning, I crossed the French border to spend the day in the town of Colmar, and tomorrow I’ll be hiking in Germany’s Black Forest near Titisee. I can’t wait to share more about it soon! : )

Into the Mines

 

This week, my International Economics class ventured into the old silver mines of Schauinsland. These mines date back to the 13th/14th centuries, and used to make nearby Freiburg one of the richer cities in Europe.

Our class was studying the development of trade over the centuries in this region, and the effects of having access to sooo much silver. Starting out, I had no idea what to expect in the mine….

gegentrum.

But when our guide wheeled out this huge cart full of helmets and gloves, I knew we were in for some heavy-duty mine-crawling!
gear up.

Inside, it was dark, wet, and a tight fit. Plus, the stale and stagnant air was a constant reminder of the mine’s old age, forever untouched by the sun and unexposed to the wind. Some tunnels were tiny, like this one dating back to the 14th century….

crawl space.

And some newer ones were wide, tall, and had mine carts + tracks! Here’s a photo from inside one of the 20th century tunnels:

in the mine.

Exploring the mine and learning about the evolution of mining techniques was interesting and totally new to me – I loved it! But after an hour and a half in the mine, everyone was definitely grateful to smell the fresh air and feel the outdoor breeze again.

And! We ended our day at the mines with hot chocolate at a hotel near the bus stop. Yum!

heiße schokolade.

It was a unique and awesome field trip. : )

Freshly Pressed?!

I am sooo excited and grateful for the honor of being “Freshly Pressed” yesterday! Thank you, WordPress! And a big welcome, new visitors! I’m thrilled you’re here and appreciate your comments! : )

To answer some of your great questions….

The sun on the Alps was definitely intense while glaring off the snow! This was something our coordinators had luckily given us the heads up about: bring sunglasses and plenty of sunblock. So I had on tons of sunscreen and fortunately didn’t get burned. It was so bright though – I was squinting even behind my sunglasses!

a big backyard.

Sledding down for 5 miles wasn’t too scary, although you definitely needed to stay on the course and slow down for the turns! To hit the brakes, we just dug our feet down into the snow and it would slow us down.  That made our feet and pants get covered with snow and totally wet by the time we got to the bottom.

road to the swiss alps.

It was really a can’t-miss experience! Such a fun day, and it was even more awesome than I could ever have anticipated!

This week, I’ll be posting about German recycling (procedure = super precise, sort of intimidating), our daily open-air market in Freiburg (beautiful and delicious!), and my field trip underground.. inside the Schauinsland silver mines.

And this weekend, I’ll be hopping the border into France — can’t wait to see France for the first time and share it here!

Sledding in the Swiss Alps!

Yesterday…

My study abroad program organized an optional day trip – skiing/sledding on the Alps in Switzerland! I went hiking and sledding with about 20 other people, while around 10 others (who already had some experience!) opted to ski or snowboard. There was something amazing to do there for everyone!

It was an early morning and a 3 hour bus ride to Grindelwald, a town in the midst of the Alps….

Grindelwald

Once we arrived, those of us who were sledding took another 30 min bus ride up one of the mountains. From there, we continued up with a hike for about an hour! It was a good workout, and we got pretty hot despite the snow and altitude!

uphill.

Both hiking up and sledding back down were filled with the most amazing views….
the swiss alps.sun and snow.

It was unreal! And after sledding back down the hiking route, we got to keep sledding for most of the rest of the way down the mountain…. a 5 mile course!

downhill.

This place is home to the longest sledding route in Europe, and it was the most snow I’d ever seen in my life!

And! I found a little bit of Atlanta in Switzerland….

atlanta in switzerland.

: )

It was a great weekend! Sledding in the Swiss Alps was one of the most fun things ever, and everybody had a blast! : D

Scenes from Berlin

 

We’ve been working in a couple of my classes on reflections, essays, and projects from the Berlin trip. Berlin is a hard city to describe…. every time I thought I had gotten an idea of the vibe of the city, I encountered some totally different aspect of it. So here are three quick scenes, each about a different dimension of Berlin!

I.

berliner rain.
It isn’t really raining, but it isn’t really dry.

The sky above is utterly blank and white as if someone had erased the sun and the clouds and the blue. But there is a heaviness to this erased sky; it weighs down with something more than just emptiness.

repurposed.

II.

berlin graffiti.

Graffiti pervades everywhere.

You noticed it before you left the train station, even before you got off the train. It covers without discrimination: buildings, signs, walls. Graffiti, the mask of the city, acts as a tough exterior, a film between Berlin itself and the tourists passing through. Tourists like me.

III.

Berlin Wall
To your left stretches a Wall. The Wall.  It is relatively inconspicuous – not tall, not thick, but colorful with its own excessive explosions of the graffiti.  In my own mind the Berlin Wall has always loomed large and menacing… the Iron Curtain, the impenetrable barrier, the edge of a system and lifestyle that I knew and understood.

The reality of these stooped and broken remnants of a wall does not jibe with my expectations.

———

In some ways, Berlin was kind of a downer – we focused our studies on the upheavals of history, the war, and communism.  But at the end, I really liked the city.  It has rebuilt and restructured itself into a unified Western European city in such an amazingly short period of time.  And everywhere you go – historic sites and buildings coexist with new, modern structures…..
reichstag energy. gendarmenmarkt.

J’adore that juxtaposition. : )

So. Traveling around Europe has been great so far! And this weekend, I’m headed for the Swiss Alps for lots of snow and sledding – I can’t wait! But first… German test on Friday. : O

Berlin + Prague, part I

It’s been a busy week in Freiburg! Classes started, and I was sick earlier in the week. I’m feeling a lot better today though, and ready to post more updates!

For Berlin and Prague, we broke up into two groups of about 30. I was in Group B for this trip, which focuses on economics and finance issues, while the other group focuses on politics.

We went to Berlin first, where we studied the reunification of East and West Germany. Here’s a picture of Potsdamer Platz, which used to be flattened, empty and sliced straight through the middle by the Berlin Wall….

postdamer platz.

In Berlin, we stayed in hostels – sort of like hotels but with 5 or 6 people to a room.

The weather was frightful! It was cold, wet, and rainy/snowy the whole time we were there.

berliner rain.

After Berlin, we went to Prague for 2 and a half days, where we got to stay in hotels. Here, we studied transitions to market economies in countries of the former Eastern Bloc, such as the Czech Republic.

The biggest challenge in Prague was trying to figure out the exchange rate – they aren’t in the eurozone! I had to keep swapping out euros for Czech crowns, and the mental math got a little complicated sometimes.

praha.

Prague is situated on the Vltava River, and is home to sooo many pretty bridges!

river bend.charles bridge.

This trip was great and I loved seeing the history and current issues of the two cities up close! I’ll post more pictures and impressions from Berlin and Prague soon! : )