Exploring the Black Forest, Part I

Last Sunday…

My friend and I had the chance to go for a short hike through Schwarzwald (the Black Forest) from Titisee to Hinterzarten. Titisee is a small village about 45 minutes away from Freiburg by train, famous for its huuuge lake which gets frozen solid in the dead of winter.

Before we started our hike, we stopped for a quick bite in Titisee, and came across all these stunning, intricate clocks….

And we learned that the first cuckoo clocks were invented in the Black Forest!

After lunch, we started on the hiking path to the next village, Hinterzarten, which was about 3 miles away. It mostly wound through the forest or open, snow-covered fields featuring the occasional old barn or newer getaway house.

Black Forest Germany

Bridge Black Forest

These extremely tall trees remind me of the pine trees back at home in Georgia. They look so calm and serene in their habitat, the forest.

Black Forest Trees

We also came across a kids’ ski-jump competition in action. I’ll share more on this in part II! : )

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This Week in Pictures


Here’s a few photos from this week! Around Freiburg….

Freiburg Germany

And one of my favorite things about an average week — gelato!

gelato germany

Inside Mensa Drei, home of some great currywurst + intense hot sauces, and a fave among our study abroad group:

Mensa Drei Freiburg

Sunset on the countryside around Schauinsland after our field trip….


And lastly, a sidewalk cafe – Starbucks style! I usually end up here about once a week – they’re one of the few places in Freiburg with free wifi.

Freiburg Starbucks

I’m having a super busy weekend — this morning, I crossed the French border to spend the day in the town of Colmar, and tomorrow I’ll be hiking in Germany’s Black Forest near Titisee. I can’t wait to share more about it soon! : )

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Into the Mines


This week, my International Economics class ventured into the old silver mines of Schauinsland. These mines date back to the 13th/14th centuries, and used to make nearby Freiburg one of the richer cities in Europe.

Our class was studying the development of trade over the centuries in this region, and the effects of having access to sooo much silver. Starting out, I had no idea what to expect in the mine….


But when our guide wheeled out this huge cart full of helmets and gloves, I knew we were in for some heavy-duty mine-crawling!
gear up.

Inside, it was dark, wet, and a tight fit. Plus, the stale and stagnant air was a constant reminder of the mine’s old age, forever untouched by the sun and unexposed to the wind. Some tunnels were tiny, like this one dating back to the 14th century….

crawl space.

And some newer ones were wide, tall, and had mine carts + tracks! Here’s a photo from inside one of the 20th century tunnels:

in the mine.

Exploring the mine and learning about the evolution of mining techniques was interesting and totally new to me – I loved it! But after an hour and a half in the mine, everyone was definitely grateful to smell the fresh air and feel the outdoor breeze again.

And! We ended our day at the mines with hot chocolate at a hotel near the bus stop. Yum!

heiße schokolade.

It was a unique and awesome field trip. : )

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Scenes from Berlin


We’ve been working in a couple of my classes on reflections, essays, and projects from the Berlin trip. Berlin is a hard city to describe…. every time I thought I had gotten an idea of the vibe of the city, I encountered some totally different aspect of it. So here are three quick scenes, each about a different dimension of Berlin!


berliner rain.
It isn’t really raining, but it isn’t really dry.

The sky above is utterly blank and white as if someone had erased the sun and the clouds and the blue. But there is a heaviness to this erased sky; it weighs down with something more than just emptiness.



berlin graffiti.

Graffiti pervades everywhere.

You noticed it before you left the train station, even before you got off the train. It covers without discrimination: buildings, signs, walls. Graffiti, the mask of the city, acts as a tough exterior, a film between Berlin itself and the tourists passing through. Tourists like me.


Berlin Wall
To your left stretches a Wall. The Wall.  It is relatively inconspicuous – not tall, not thick, but colorful with its own excessive explosions of the graffiti.  In my own mind the Berlin Wall has always loomed large and menacing… the Iron Curtain, the impenetrable barrier, the edge of a system and lifestyle that I knew and understood.

The reality of these stooped and broken remnants of a wall does not jibe with my expectations.


In some ways, Berlin was kind of a downer – we focused our studies on the upheavals of history, the war, and communism.  But at the end, I really liked the city.  It has rebuilt and restructured itself into a unified Western European city in such an amazingly short period of time.  And everywhere you go – historic sites and buildings coexist with new, modern structures…..
reichstag energy. gendarmenmarkt.

J’adore that juxtaposition. : )

So. Traveling around Europe has been great so far! And this weekend, I’m headed for the Swiss Alps for lots of snow and sledding – I can’t wait! But first… German test on Friday. : O

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Berlin + Prague, part I

It’s been a busy week in Freiburg! Classes started, and I was sick earlier in the week. I’m feeling a lot better today though, and ready to post more updates!

For Berlin and Prague, we broke up into two groups of about 30. I was in Group B for this trip, which focuses on economics and finance issues, while the other group focuses on politics.

We went to Berlin first, where we studied the reunification of East and West Germany. Here’s a picture of Potsdamer Platz, which used to be flattened, empty and sliced straight through the middle by the Berlin Wall….

postdamer platz.

In Berlin, we stayed in hostels – sort of like hotels but with 5 or 6 people to a room.

The weather was frightful! It was cold, wet, and rainy/snowy the whole time we were there.

berliner rain.

After Berlin, we went to Prague for 2 and a half days, where we got to stay in hotels. Here, we studied transitions to market economies in countries of the former Eastern Bloc, such as the Czech Republic.

The biggest challenge in Prague was trying to figure out the exchange rate – they aren’t in the eurozone! I had to keep swapping out euros for Czech crowns, and the mental math got a little complicated sometimes.


Prague is situated on the Vltava River, and is home to sooo many pretty bridges!

river bend.charles bridge.

This trip was great and I loved seeing the history and current issues of the two cities up close! I’ll post more pictures and impressions from Berlin and Prague soon! : )

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Freiburg vs. Nürnberg!


Made it back late last night from a busy week in Berlin and Prague! It was a great time and filled with lots of sightseeing and studying recent Eastern European history. Pictures and recap to come later this week! : D

Here’s some pictures from last weekend’s soccer football game – Freiburg vs. Nürnberg! They’re pretty big rivals!

It’s Freiburg in the red, Nürnberg in the white….

We had such an incredibly excited crowd! The stadium was packed and EVERYONE had a team scarf. And there were flags and banners all over…

And the singing and chanting and clapping never stopped! This guy with the megaphone directed the crowd’s songs and chants….

And there was a ton of security!

We ended up tying 1-1. It was a such a great game and experience!

And here’s a quick vid of some of the singing – it was awesome!

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This Week in Pictures


A few photos around Freiburg!

doorways. Münsterplatz

The Freiburger Münster, our big cathedral built around 1200 ad:
Germany loves international food! There are tons of Turkish restaurants here, along with Irish, Spanish, Chinese… and more. Here’s a photo from lunch at an Italian place… lunch.

We get sparkling water at almost every restaurant! Its one of the most popular drinks in Germany, and flat water is hard to come by!

I’ve been in Freiburg for just over a week now, and I’m starting to know my way around and get comfortable here! Today, I’m going to see an authentic European soccer football game, Freiburg vs. Nürnberg! Can’t wait! : )

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A Dorm Room in Germany

Dorm Room Freiburg Germany

I showed you a couple of pictures inside my kitchen and living space of the dorm in Germany, now here’s a couple more inside my room! The place is huge, bigger than my dorm room back at Emory!

Dorm Room Freiburg Germany

I have a great window – a big door that lets in plenty of light and even opens up for some fresh air! : )

Dorm Room Freiburg Germany

My study abroad program focuses on the history and institutions of the European Union. To go along with our classes, we are traveling to lots of places in the EU to see up close how the government and economics here all works. Next week, I’m heading out to Berlin and Prague to see the sights and the history of the cities. I’ll be away from the computer, but I’ll update with pictures and stories as soon as I get back home to Freiburg and back to my dorm in Germany!

Stay tuned! : D

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Last weekend, our program did the first traveling of the semester! We divided into three groups: the first went to Titisee, the second to Sasbachwalden (I think), and my group went to Staufen! We hiked up to the ruins – they’ve been around since the High Middle Ages! Around 1100 ad.


The hills all around are covered with vineyards…

From the ruins you can see France in one direction, and the Black Forest in the other! This view shows Germany:

distant view of Staufen

Staufen is also famous for claiming to be the place where Faust died – from the famous German legend of an intellectual who sold his soul for more knowledge.

Today, it suffers from shifts in the city foundations due to some drilling for gas energy a few years ago. Huge cracks split through walls and buildings…

Staufen must not break

Big red signs like that one cross the cracks throughout the city. They say, “Staufen must not break!”

Before our group left, we enjoyed some kaffee und kuchen, or coffee and cake! I had the traditional Black Forest cake, famous in the region! Yummmm!

Black Forest Cake

It was a great trip and I can’t wait to travel to some more places in Europe! : )

Read more posts from Germany here.

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