Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day #8 the Black Forrest tour

Frans wrote:

11 Nov '09: It was Maxine's wish for quite a few years now to go and visit the Black Forrest in South West Germany. In the years we lived in Holland we still hadn't been there so we made a point of it to include this spectacular place on our travel itinerary and we were not dissapointed.

We took the 'autobahn' for the first section from Kaiserslautern to Baden-Baden as this area is not so interesting but from Baden Baden the scenery dramatically changed for the better.

Karen had brought her Lonely Planet guide book and had discovered that Schiltag was prized as the 'Prettiest Town of The Black Forrest' so I programmed the faithfull TomTom to guide us to the centre of Schiltag and on the way there we were greeted by some beautiful scenery. The route took us over some of the highest peaks in The Black Forrest and the Ladies cried out in delight when we encountered our first areas covered in snow.

Our first stop was an hour or so into the Black Forrest near a look out. This gave us time to stretch our legs, have a breath of fresh air...or a smoke depending on the preference.... and do the other things that we all have to do at times even when there is no old lady to collect her 50 Euro cents.

We arrived in Schiltag around lunch time and before stopping for lunch at a local Cafe we had a brief wander through the town and had a stop at the local council office which doubled as tourist information center. Inside this office was a display of a handmade clock that not only showed the time but als the date, position of the Sun, Earth and Moon, made a rooster call early in the morning and paraded a troup of roman soldiers around a figure of Jezus Christ. I've been searching the ineternet for information on this clock to show you but so far I've not been able to find anything yet and as it was enclosed in a glass case I could not take a proper picture of it.

We had lunch in a local cafe where we tried some of the local food which we tend to do now in every new town just to get as much as local experience as possible. This Cafe sported, amongst other things, an old fashioned stove that was placed behind the bar esspecially to keep the staff warm and Maxine straight away fell in love with it. I was just mighty pleased at that point in time, the Mercedes Benz was already filled to capacity. After lunch we wondered into the town and you would not believe what the Ladies discovered, yes another leather articles shop like we really need more coats, boots or handbags!

After we left Schiltag we headed for a sinister place called the 'Heksenloch', which translates to 'Witches Hole'. According to the mighty Lonely Planet, Karen quoted the description of this place as 'sinister' and 'eerie' and as it was on our way to the Southern end of the Black Forrest we decided to have a look. According to the Lonely Planet we were looking for this place just South of Furtwangen. TomTom had no record in its databanks about this place and the Lonely Planets description was pretty poor to say the least. In the end we had to ask a local for some directions and fortunately this good German soul knew immediately what we were looking for. He gave me his directions with a smile and a wink and I started to wonder where he had last seen his own wife or that he was simply going to warn her that she could expect a few Aussies for tea.... her tea that is...

It turned out that this Witches Hole was not one particular place but more a general location of a narrow valley off the beaten track in the Black Forrest where fog tends the hang up amongst the trees, the road narrows to a very small single lane and the wind comes to a complete stand still, eerie indeed. None of my travelling companions was keen to get out off the car and take up local residency there so we moved on again.

We had hoped to stop somewhere near this place and have our afternoon tea or coffee but wherever we stopped everything was just closed. Quite often we encountered a sign on a cafe door or gate which stated 'Ruhe Tag' which means 'Quiet Day'. Obviously this time of year is not considered a tourist time and the locals were quite often having a bit of a holiday of their own!

In one of those places we came across this replica fountain of 'Manneke Pies' of Brussels fame and as we couldn't get a hot refreshment we decided to take this opportunity and fill our water bottles from this generous young man with his enormous bladder.

From the Witches Hole we slowly made our way to our destination for that day. The Alde Hotz Panorama Hotel in Gorwhil . This hotel was advertised as one with a beautiful view but unfortunately we arrived after dark at the hotel and left too early the next morning to notice anything of it. The Hotel is best described as basic, in fact very basic would be a better description as there was no television in any of the rooms and internet was simply not heard of. The local staff, another husband and wife team, was very helpful and accommodating though. I think we gave in particular the lady of the house a few headaches with our meal order as only Maxine was going for the house speciality and the rest of us had all different meals from the menu but she came through with flying colours and she certainly earned our prized Koala Award.

It was whilst ordering our wishes for dinner that night that I started to realize I was not only the chauffeur but also the travelling translater for this trip and in particular Karen was making use of 'my talent' in that regards...:

'Frans, can you ask the lady what is actually in the salad?' we go.....

'What do you mean', I answer, 'A salad has got lettuce and stuff hasn't it?'

'Yes, but I would like to know if it has tomatoes, cucumber and that sort of thing'

.....what else can it have in it....
...what you must realize is that I haven't spoken any German since I was about 16 years old and I'm a bit rusty and far from confident speaking it!...

'Ok' I'll ask', I reply without a great deal of enthousiasm.

'O, and can you ask what sort of dressing there is on it', she quirps

...what do you think I am, Star Trek's universal bloody translator.....

'Ok' comes back my terse reply

'and whilst you're at it, can you ask her not to put it on the salad but keep it on the side?' this time Karen receives what is now commonly known as 'The Look'....

Karen did get her salad, I've got no idea what it contained in the end but the 'dressing on the side' bit was definetly lost in translation....

I suppose Karen has not quite forgiven me for my last defensive tactic in 'The Dreams' discussion and is obviously still out to regain some ground. It was during the dinner discussion that evening she finally managed to get a response out of me. The discussion had centred amongst the Ladies around the side effects of menopauze and as I don't suffer from that particular condition I had simply nothing to contribute to this subject and had withdrawn in my customary shell where I don't listen, don't talk but still hear what is being said. Out of the blue Karen fired one at me straight between my eyes:

'Just because you don't have any emotions, Frans', she declared vehemently.

Before the command 'Shields Up!' had reached my mouth I fell into the trap:

'Of course I have emotions'! I fired back.

Her hand raised up above the table and with her finger pointed right at the tip of my nose she declared triumphantly: 'Gotcha!'

'Ok', I had to humbly admit, 'One for you, Karen.' ....

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