We just returned from a wonderful week long Christmas vacation in south-west Germany. We left Berlin early on the 23rd and returned late on the 29th- just in time to pack up our apartment for a New Years Day move! If you can’t tell- we’re really excited to be moving on the first day of 2012…luckily we had an amazing vacation to lift our spirits before undertaking the always fun task of moving. Our primary destination was Todtmoos, DE. It’s a beautiful little village nestled in the Black Forest and was the absolute perfect destination for a relaxing and romantic Christmas. We first took a train from Berlin to Freiburg (first class!) then transferred to a bus that drove us a few hours into the Black Forest and to our final destination. The bus ride through the Black Forest was amazingly beautiful and as we neared Todtmoos more and more snow covered the ground. We passed through a number of other cute towns during the drive and actually ended up being the very last people on the once full bus as we pulled into the bahnhof in Todtmoos! Herr Coman (the owner of the hotel we were staying at) was waiting for our bus and he drove us up to the hotel. Upon our arrival there was a big box from the Chebuskes containing some wonderful presents and a super special Christmas tree! We set it up straight away and it added a great festive feel to the apartment. The night of our arrival we enjoyed walking through the village and checking out the different restaurants- finally deciding on Sapa (a Chinese-Vietnamese-Thai restaurant). We figured that we’d be eating plenty of German food over the course of the week and it couldn’t hurt have a little variety. And thank God we did- the food was delicious and oh so spicy! I liked it so much I made us go back a few nights later:) The German food we had all week was delicious too, but my red curry w/ tofu was so reminiscent of my my favorite place back in Boston it made me very happy. We woke up on Christmas Eve to a beautiful site- big, fat, white snowflakes! The already beautiful village was made even more beautiful as the flakes came down. We did some more daylight exploring and some shopping for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinners (our hotel was more like an apartment- with a working kitchen). After a relaxing afternoon of games, reading and lounging- we got everything ready for our Christmas Eve feast. Dave’s family does a big fondue meal every year and we decided to keep with tradition. Our fondue came in congealed form, out of a bag, but it was from Switzerland- and delicious!!! The good, brown German bread was a perfect compliment as were our beers and bubbly. After dinner we headed up to the church in town for the Christmas Eve service. Though we couldn’t understand a word of the service the church was beautiful and the people friendly. The snow continued to fall as we headed home to watch It’s a Wonderful Life.
On Christmas morning we woke up to another beautiful site. The snow had stopped falling and the sky was bright blue!
We made breakfast, opened gifts and enjoyed a relaxing Christmas morning. The Chebuskes sent us two great new games to play (I crushed Dave at 7 Wonders!) and then in the afternoon we took a walk to a nearby waterfall. Though it was cold, the scenery was beautiful and the walk enjoyable. Christmas ended with a few good games of ping-pong, swimming and skyping with both our families. Though it was a little sad to be away from our homes, we had a great first Christmas together and it couldn’t have been in a better spot. Thank you so much Melissa and Al for the amazing vacation!! The day after Christmas we took the bus (free for all visitors to the Black Forest) to the neighboring town of Todtnau. It was a bit bigger than Todtmoos, but still very quaint. The town is located at the base of a number of mountains and one had an operating ski lift and strange looking contraption running down the mountain. We walked over to get a better look and found out that it was a huge alpine slide. The ski lift was used to bring visitors up to the top of the mountain to either use the slide or to enjoy the views and beers at the mountaintop “lodge”. We opted to buy the tickets and enjoyed a beautiful ride up the mountain. We weren’t really dressed to slide down a mountain, but we did partake in beers and wurst at the lodge. The ride back down was just as pretty! That night we dined at one of the most popular spots in Todtmoos, Maien. I got their daily special- which included a creamy potato soup to start and then a huge plate of hirschsteak (venison), chestnuts, spaetzle and brussel sprouts. Dave picked out a Jagersteak with mushrooms- both absolutely delicious. There was also live music- so all in all a very “German” feel to the whole meal. The only downside was that since we hadn’t made a reservation we were seated a shared table. The first couple we sat next to was great, but when they left an older Swiss couple sat down. Rather than keeping to their side they sidled right over and started engaging us in conversation. I usually don’t mind making small talk/socializing, but these were some strange people. Their English was not good, but that didn’t stop them. They told us that their former spouses had died and they were now partners. Then the gentleman told us about his prior health issues and his new electronic shock pace maker. The woman started making jokes about how he wasn’t suppose to get too excited during the “love making” or they’d shock him. They then had us guess their ages (really?!) and we found out they were in late 70s. I literally felt like we were in a Saturday Night Live sketch. We were both pretty thankful when the check came and we were able to escape our over-sharing Swiss dinner dates! The final day in Todtmoos we decided it would be only fitting to try and find a place to ski. Because of our differences in skiing ability (Dave’s a pro, I have none) we opted for going cross country. We found a place where we could rent poles, skis and boots for only 15€/day. Even though it was Dave’s first time, he was much better than me (though I take pride in the fact that he fell first!). We had a lot of fun skiing around though- and the weather was perfect!
That night we enjoyed the last of our favorite regional beers and made our way back to Sapa- where we were greeted enthusiastically by the host and even given special shots. Who knew there was such delicious Asian food in tiny village in the Black Forest?!
We were sad to bid farewell to Todtmoos the next day, but excited because we had one more stop on our trip- Freiburg! Dave spent the first semester of his junior year studying abroad in Freiburg and was excited about revisiting some his favorite spots and showing me the city. We dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed out for lunch. Dave was determined to find his favorite lunch spot- Tacheles. They have more than 30 varieties of schnitzel and spaetzle…and the one’s we had were as good as Dave claimed.
To work off lunch we headed to the Münsterplatz and ventured the 209 stairs of the cathedral to the bell tower. From there there were about 100 more stairs to the highest point. The view of the city was awesome and the bell tower beautiful. I got some great pics!
After our visit to the cathedral we continued our walk around Freiburg before headed back to the hotel for a quick nap. For dinner we headed to Dave’s favorite Freiburg beer hall (in the summer they have a huge outdoor patio) called Feierling Braueri. We enjoyed some great German beer and food.
The last morning of our trip was spent trying to see as much of Freiburg as possible before our 3:00pm train back to Berlin. We wandered over to Dave’s old dorm in the morning and checked out some of his former school buildings. From there we hiked a bit up a hill overlooking the city, checking out another beer garden. As we slowly made our way back to the hotel and our luggage, we ended up at one last beer hall- God love the Germans and their beer!
Though we are bummed about vacation coming to a close, we’re looking forward to 2012. I will be starting German classes the second week in January and Dave is only a month away from finishing up his first semester! After which he has 5 week off- lucky guy! We’re hoping to get a lot more travelling in this next year (including trips home next summer for some very important weddings!). We also plan on continuing to enjoy all Berlin has to offer and really take advantage of this opportunity to be in Europe.
Wishing you all a happy New Years Eve and an amazing 2012!!!!