Schwarzwald, Lichtenstein & the Bärenhöhle

Once a month, Alan gets a four day weekend due to a German holiday. I have heard that if you ask, the majority of Germans don’t know what holiday they are celebrating. I suppose that is a hazard that comes with the territory; my fabulous DK travel book on Germany says, “The country has the highest number of public holidays in Europe and German workers have the longest annual holidays. Its citizens are Europe’s most enthusiastic travelers, each year spending over 35 million euros on foreign holidays…”

This particular four day weekend, however, was thanks to our American Labor Day. As I thought about why we celebrate Labor Day I realized I am no different than the Germans: I have no idea why we celebrate Labor Day.

Okay. Now I do. I just read about it on the internet.

It means women aren’t supposed to wear white until next Summer. Good thing I consulted the internet about that. I was going to wear my white pants tomorrow.

We were happy to celebrate the end of Summer by way of tagging along with a couple from church on a two day trip to the Schwarzwald and the Lichtenstein Castle.

We took a 3 hour drive to the edge of the Schwarzwald (schwarz = black; wald = forest) and stopped to see the world’s largest cuckoo clock. Now I understand why my grandmother was heartsick when someone broke into her house once and took her cuckoo clock, among other things. The clock was a gift from a woman who resided in the nursing home she was the Administrator of. I knew the clock was a sentimental gift to her. Now I understand the cost of such a gift.

What do cuckoo clocks have to do with the Schwartzwald? The first one was made here, from trees in the Schwartzwald. That clock is in a museum which we didn’t go to.

I will never depreciate the value of a cuckoo clock again after seeing these walls.

We moseyed along through the resort town of Triberg,

saw a beautiful waterfall,

traipsed through the forest, THE Black Forest,

ate Italian for dinner in Triberg, and ended the day at a bed and breakfast.

On day 2 of our trip, we traveled through the breathtaking countryside

and wound our way to the romantic Schloss (castle) Lichtenstein.

This was our first intact castle. All the castles we’ve visited so far have been ruins. Lichtenstein is small and new by comparison to the ruins we’ have seen, being built in 1840 (as opposed to the Heidelberg, circa 1200). The Duke Wilhelm of Urach built the castle and his descendants still inhabit part of the castle part of the time.

After Lichtenstein, we took a 15 minute jaunt to see the Bärenhöhle. If you guessed that means “bear hole” you would be correct. It’s much like Timpanogos Caves or Carlsbad Caverns as a hole in the ground or mountain formed by nature. The discoverers found several bear skeletons and thus named it  “Bärenhöhle”.

We rounded out our trip with a stop at Bad Urach which is known for it’s spa (any town in Germany with the word “Bad” in it is known as a spa town. More on that later. Hopefully after I visit one of those Bad towns.)

Bad Urach has more timber style homes than any town we’ve been to so far. The local castle is made from timber as is the town hall.

This is their castle…

We weren’t in a hurry, but it was a trip that should have probably been taken at an even more leisurely pace for all the beauty that we passed through.

The Black Forest is black because of the density of trees shutting out light from the sun. (I just learned when my mom asked the reason for its name.) But here are some other cool things about it:

  • It’s the birth place of skiing in Europe
  • the first wooden ski was produced here
  • the first ski lift was built here
  • there are more than 8,000 km of cycle trails for mountain bikers
  • there are 23,000 km of walking trails
  • Black Forest ham
  • Black Forest cake

I’m beginning to feel like I will never see enough Germany and I already want to go back to the Black Forest.

In case you’re not sick of photos yet, here’s a bucket load full.

Labor Day Weekend: Black Forest & Lichtenstein

7 thoughts on “Schwarzwald, Lichtenstein & the Bärenhöhle

  1. My husband and self are stationed in germany at the moment (on our last few months here). I am totally making him take me to these places!! Was it easy finding a place that allowed your dog? I would love to bring my 4 legged child too!

    • Brittany, we stayed with some friends in a bed and breakfast and they allowed dogs. You’ll just have to call them and ask if it’s not apparent.

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