The Black Forest

8 June 2013

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Wow, I can’t believe that my backpacking journey is finally coming to an end. I arrived in Europe 34 days ago. After an amazing 7 days touring England with the Alexander family, I left Great Britain for Rome Italy. Steven, Ellie, and myself started our adventure in Roma nearly 4 weeks ago…That is so crazy to me. I can’t believe that it has been 4 weeks! It has felt like literally just an instant in time. On May 28th we met up with Jessica in Berlin and continued our traveling to Eastern Europe without skipping a beat. The time we spent together was wonderful and we have had so many great experiences

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Today we woke up in the middle of the Black Forest… Alright, not quite, but wee did spend the night in Freiburg, the unofficial capital of the Black Forest. The Forest is located in Germany and covers over 11,000 acres of land. The trees are huge and beautiful, and lakes dot the forest in the most awe-inspiring way. We had a taste of many different “Black Forest” cultures. Of course, because I am traveling with a bunch of foodies, we had to try Black Forest Ham and Black Forest Cake.

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Black Forest Ham in the Black Forest cannot even be compared to what all you back home in America think “Black Forest Ham” is. It is incredible. Black Forest Cake looks as you see it in the pictures. Dark chocolate cake, light whip cream frosting, cherry filling, and a ring of cherries on top, make up one of the most delicious cakes I have ever tried. It is so rich and fulfilling… I have failed to mention how wonderful it has been to travel with people who let me try all the traditional dishes they purchase. When you don’t want to have an entire entree to yourself but still want to experience the culture of the food, it is nice to have people to share a bite or two with. Thank you Steven, Ellie, and Jessica, for educating me in the culture of European cuisine… although I don’t think I will ever be able to eat bread or chocolate again!

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We went to the famous market in Freiburg where we purchased many German foods to try and saw the famous cuckooclocks that are made in the Black Forest. They are so beautiful and ornate, you can tell that hours and hours of time went in to them. The amount of time that goes into them can also be seen in their price tags…they are so expensive! My Grandma Carol has a cuckooclock that she got from the Black Forest years ago, and it has always been a hit in their home, cuckooing and singing on every hour. It was so fun to see all the different varieties and styles of these beautiful clocks. Maybe when I get enough money I will go back and buy one for myself…after the camel shoes in Zurich of course.

In describing instances of creativity and innovation, cuckoo-clocks have nailed everything in a great business idea. Most people who come to the Black Forest, leave with a giant clock and a light pocket. These “souvenirs” are by far some of the most famous in Europe. Why do people pay thousands of Euro’s for a clock that cuckoos? I believe it is because these clocks truly are worth every penny. Each time the bird crows, its owner remembers the experiences they had on the trip tin which they purchased it. Everyone wants something to remember their exciting experiences by, and that is where the business of souvenirs comes in. We visited places, such as Carcassonne, where the only jobs people had were in catering to the tourist…crazy that an entire city survives on its tourists. Cuckoo clocks are popular because they are a souvenir that is timeless. They are something that will always bring up a story or a memory. I believe that souvenirs such as this play an important role in not only invoking memories, but also in inspiring beauty and creativity. What you do not remember, you cannot learn from… Photos, and meaningful physical memories (souvenirs) inspire us to remember what we have experienced and learned and so we can use it everyday of our lives. For this reason I do not think that certain souvenirs are not a waste of money…although most can be. When I walk into important buildings and businesses, the first thing I notice is how well the designers have done in creating an atmosphere where you just feel important…

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We took a train to Titisee from Freiburg to experience the Black Forest for what it is really known for…it’s naturalist beauty. Titisee is a tiny village built right on the edge of a beautiful lake surrounded by trees and beautiful German cottages. There were a variety of cuckooclock stores here, and of course we went into everyone… I love Germany and I love Europe!

Since Ellie, Steven, and I started in Roma, Italy and ended in Freiburg Germany we have seen so many incredible and amazing things.

27 days
63 trains
42 cities
15 countries
(Steven and I even get to add one more city to our list, Strasbourg France, before splitting our ways in London England.)

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I have learned not only a lot of culture, geography, people, economies, etc. while on this trip…I have also learned a lot about myself. I always say that I am a lucky girl, but this trip has taught me otherwise. One of the greatest lessons I learned on this trip was taught to me by Jessica, a girl who is patient and understanding beyond comprehension. Jessica taught me that I am not lucky, I am blessed. I believe it one hundred percent after this trip. I can count number upon number of times when we have been blessed beyond measure as we traveled through the entire European Continent. We made train connections that we never thought were possible, we met people who let us stay in their homes and eat at their table, we experienced and saw things that were absolutely incredible. As I think back on everything we have experienced I am so grateful that I wrote about my journey along the way. Details seem to slip with time, and this is an adventure that I never EVER want to forget.

Our Eurail pass expired yesterday so today Steven and I had to purchase a ticket to get to Strasbourg, which was only 20 Euros, but it is such a pain to have to wait in line for. Most of the ticket machines and restaurants do not take American Credit Cards, or at least one without a chip. It is such a pain… I wish someone would of warned me beforehand so I would of had time to sign up for a card that actually works worldwide without ridiculous fees… After throwing away all my backpack clothes and getting my hair cut, I am going to get a credit card that actually works here!
Not having a phone while traveling is also a huge hassle. Not only can you not get ahold of people, you can’t get the free wifi at most places. Right now I am sitting in the Strasbourg airport and guess what…the ticket machines will not read our “American” non-chip cards. We missed the train we were trying to catch because of this and we had to wait in the long information lines…

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We ended up making it to the airport and catching our flight to London with plenty of time to spare. There was literally no one at the airport…I am not sure why, but it was really nice. I am sad to leave continental Europe but am anxious to have more possessions once I am in England. It is hard living out of a small backpack for so long. On our train to the airport I sat next to three young adults who look like they have been backpacking for quite some time. It was not a pretty site and it made me very anxious to get on the plane and return to normal living…. I will miss backpacking and being in a different place everyday. I will miss traveling with wonderful people and seeing amazing things each and everyday, but I am ready for my next adventure (one that involves a curling iron and lotion…)

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