The D&O Diary is on assignment in Germany this week for meetings in Frankfurt, with brief opportunities to look around in some other places as well. I have been to Germany during the winter before; I know it can be chilly, and it can snow, too. But during my jetlag recovery visit to Freiburg, I was fortunate to enjoy some pre-Spring warmth and sunshine, as reflected in the picture at the top of the post.
For years, people have been telling me that I had to visit Freiburg, the venerable university town in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg. I finally had a chance to see Freiburg last week. Turns out, the people telling me about the city were right. The city is nestled at the base of the Schlossberg, a steep wooded hill that rises to the east of the town, affording sweeping views of the city below, the surrounding hills, and, far to the west, the Vosges Mountains. Freiburg’s restored old town (alte Stadt), with its pedestrianized cobble stone streets, was a very pleasant place to stroll. The Dreisam River flows along the city’s south side; walkways line both sides of the rushing river.
Throughout the city, there are stone channels, called Bächle, flowing with cool, clear water diverted from the river. The gurgle of the water flowing through the channels has a musical, calming sound.
The sidewalks in the old town are decorated with a profusion of stone mosaics, works of simple beauty made of colorful pebbles from the Rhine River (about 30 miles away).
One of my main reasons for wanting to visit Freiburg is its proximity to the Black Forest – unfortunately, I learned that “near” the Schwarzwald is not quite the same as being “in” the Schwarzwald. However, though I did not make it to the Black Forest itself, by hiking through the woods along the top of the Schlossberg, I came pretty close.
Last Christmas while visiting family, one of my sisters-in-law, who is something of a homebody, asked me, “You really like to travel, don’t you?” Yes, I said, I love to travel. Somewhat skeptically, she asked me “Why”? I said, “Because when I am in a new place, I see interesting things.” She said, “What kinds of things?” And I said, “I don’t know, just ….things.”
In Freiburg, as well as the other places I stopped in Germany, there were many things worth seeing (or, as they say in German, sehenswertes).
During my conversation with my sister-in-law last Christmas, she asked me, “So, what does it get you, seeing these things?” I shrugged and smiled; though I didn’t say anything, I was thinking of the lines from Tennyson’s Ulysses: “Life piled on life/Were all too little, and of one to me/Little remains: but every hour is saved/From that eternal silence, something more/A bringer of new things…”