Freiburg – Beer, Buzz and the Black Forest

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If you want to explore the Black Forest, one of Germany’s main hiking regions, you basically have the choice between two options A couple of years ago, we went from town to town, tackling consecutive stages of the Westweg trail: the classic “long-distance hiking mode”. This has always been my preferred way of hiking.

But this time, we had to think of something else because the trip to the Black Forest was a “tail end” addition to another journey, and we had far more stuff with us than we would have wanted to carry on our backs from town to town, including two weeks’ worth of dirty laundry, computers and Mrs. Easy Hiker’s catch from the summer sales.

Which is why we based ourselves in a cheap hotel at Freiburg and undertook a couple of day trips from there, something that –

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Black Forest for Beginners: Lake Titi

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A short train away from Freiburg, you can familiarize yourself with some of the area’s charms in a brief and very easy walk There is, of course, no law that says every hiking trip to the Black Forest must include at least one stage of the Westweg.

There is, however, a nagging feeling that without such a stage, your trip would seem strangely incomplete, in the same way that a trip to Paris only feels consummated after you have climbed the Eiffel Tower and marched down the Champs Elysees.

The Westweg, after all, is the main hiking trail of the Black Forest, the one that leads you down its spine – over a total distance of 280 km – from one mountain and one major sight to the next.

Which is why we were looking for

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Cuckoo Clockwork in the Black Forest

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The multi-award winning Wutach trail may be a trifle remote but is ultimately easy to reach – thanks to the ruthless efficiency of the local transport system

No offense to all the places where we have recently been hiking: thank you Greece, thank you Tuscany, thank you Gran Canaria, you were wonderful and we had a lovely time, but the fact remains that hiking in Germany is something rather special and unique.This comes down largely to two reasons.

This comes down largely to two reasons.

First of all: Germany makes hiking so easy.

The Wutachschlucht on the eastern slopes of the Black Forest is relatively remote by German standards, and from Freiburg, the nearest city, you have to take two trains and one or two buses to get there, but these are all synchronized with one another,

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Follow the Monet

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Following in the footsteps of the impressionist master at the Riviera resort of Bordighera

The French painter Claude Monet spent one winter – the early part of 1884 – in the Italian town of Bordighera, having been introduced to this part of the Riviera by his friend Renoir the year before.

Monet was 43 at the time, already an accomplished artist with some “signature” paintings under his belt, but by no means the international superstar of his later years and still working to evolve his “mature” style.

His financial affairs, too, were largely unsettled – he had already moved to Giverny, but only as a tenant, and would still have to work hard for another five years before he had the funds to buy the house for himself and his large patchwork family.

Most of the townscapes and landscapes that

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Little Big Artists

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Today, in the final post about our trip to the Cyclades, I want to share with you something that we spotted on the Aqua Jewel ferry from Ios to Milos: children’s impressions of typical motives from the Aegean islands.

Kids can be the greatest painters, obviously not in the philosophical or allegorical mode. You cannot expect them to produce anything to rival the depth of the Sistine Chapel or Titian, but they are ready to give many modern artists a run for their money.

This is because kids have the “innocent eye” which has not yet acquired the bad and lazy viewing habits that can take a mature artist a lifetime to shed.

Most of the children’s works share two characteristics: they focus rigorously on the essential, not allowing any distraction whatsoever…

… and, in the perennial struggle

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