June 29, 2009

Travel Log: The Black Forest - Gengenbach, Germany (June 2009)

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Four trains out of Heidelberg, we arrived in the little Black Forest village of Gengenbach on Sunday (June 28) early afternoon. One train transfer totaled less than 4 minutes, we made it.
Nobody, including my German friends, seems to have ever heard of this town. Its located halfway between Baden-Baden and Frieberg, just 2 short train stops east of Offenberg; basically in the heart of the Black Forest region. We were shuttled 2km to the other side of the village to the
Pfeffer and Salz Eventhotel (Pepper & Salt Hotel) - our home for the next 3 nights. After staying in the tight old city streets of Heidelberg, finding Pfeffer and Salz flanked with a couple farmhouses, some open land and flock of sheep was refreshing.

Despite being a little tired, we felt we should check out the town and get our bearings for our stay. We were glad we did. A short 20 min walk downhill and through the old city walls led us into a very quaint and picturesque village. Cobble stone streets were edged with mountain water was flowing freely toward the river.

Cafes and small bier garten courtyards checkered the town. Four story buildings contained shops at street level and windows adorned with flower boxes above. In the open square in front of the Rathaus (city hall) a traditional band was beginning to play for the crowd. With gelato in hand, we ventured over to enjoy the band which was wrapping up a Wagner piece (I think that's what they announced based on deciphering a few words in the announcement), then to our surprise they began belting out Abba's "Dancing Queen", followed by "Mama Mia" and another Abba track.

They were pretty good and we enjoyed this random German treat. Later I learned that the band is traveling around and this was the 1st weekend they played in Gengenbach.
We circled rest of the town center, did some window shopping, saw a bunch of "cow art" on display (somehow the band was associated with this cow-art), strolled along the river, made sure we could find the train station on our own and headed back up to the hotel.
One pleasant surprise in Germany - at this time of year, the sun sets very late. Dusk kicks in around 10pm; so we enjoyed the extra daylight. We dined under the huge umbrellas on the Pfeffer and Salz patio. Julia, the owner, performed most of the tasks at the hotel (front desk person, concierge, hostest and waitress), fortunately she had a reasonable grasp of English. This comes in handy when things like the menu are all in German. I opted for the house special (Pfeffer and Salz rumpsteak), T gambled with a Greek salad - and lost (lesson learned). Unfortunately the hotel did not have an internet connection - so blog updates are far from real-time on this trip.
With a full agenda on the schedule for Monday, we crashed with the sound of running water outside our window.

Next up... a day trip to Strasbourg, France.

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