Triberg and the Black Forest
What she thought
Well, no trip to Germany would be complete without a trip to the Schwarzwald, right? I knew we would go to Triberg but I wasn't sure why. After a little research I learned about the waterfall there. It is one of the highest waterfalls in Germany and a popular spot in the Black Forest. Triberg also claims the worlds largest cuckoo clock, if you're into that sort of thing. My favorite story of German hospitality and friendliness comes from Triberg. We arrived pretty late to the hotel, around 10. We were pretty hungry but the town was quiet. Upon checking in we asked the manager if she had anything, even crackers, to munch on that would hold us till breakfast. She makes a call and then tells us there is a restaurant downstairs that her friend owns. He can only give us pizza and of course we were fine with that. So we go done to the little restaurant called Pinocchio's. There are only about 5 people sitting at one table and they were obviously finishing up. We hated for him to stay open for us and told him we would just take something to go. He insists on us having a seat and eating and having a beer. We placed our order for the pizza and had a drink. He made us a pizza to order that was out of this world, homemade crust, the freshest vegetables and amazing cheese. While we were eating he cleaned the kitchen and straightened things up. We hurried to eat so we wouldn't keep him. Upon finishing the pizza he comes over and asks us about dessert, of course we decline and thank him so much for letting us stay and eat. He says "You have to try my tiramisu, it's the best!", and insisted we have some. Well, tiramisu is my favorite so I was thrilled and it was delicious. He sat with us for a minute and told us how his parents had come to Germany from Italy and he was born in Germany. He was kind and generous and the feeling in that restaurant is what German's define as gemütlichkeit. Gemütlichkeit is a feeling, a feeling of contentment, coziness, unhurry, a sense of belonging and peace of mind. They say that the word is associated with traits unique to Germans and German culture. I believe they are right. The buildings were beautiful, the Forest was lush and the people were beyond friendly and helpful. Definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in the Black Forest. Oh, and eat at Pinocchio's!
What he thought
It was in Triberg that I began to notice unexpected patterns of behavior that seemed common to all Germans. Everyone is up early. It's hard to sleep in when every town has a church that starts ringing bells at sunrise. It is an adjustment for Americans accustomed to sleeping in. Not these people.
Also, they shut-down early. Germans appreciate their personal time so if you haven't done your shopping during normal business hours -- too bad. Shop owners want to go to the restaurant, home to cook or home to rest too. You are well-advised to accept this about Germany and adapt to the patterns quickly. If you expect a late start, chances are you will miss out on much of the experience.
Triberg was one of my favorite parts of our trip because it was there that I began to feel a connection -- both to nature and the people of Germany. The falls are extraordinarily beautiful. This latitude produces some of the most amazing wild-flowers and the hills are worn away by the most beautiful streams. There's nothing particularly grand about Triberg falls as far as the volume of water (like Niagra or Victoria), but the simple peacefulness and elegant beauty of it force you to slow down and take it in. You can get much closer to these falls and the hills than you can at more famous landmarks.
The trails around the falls were equally as enjoyable. As an urban dweller, it is rare that I find myself surrounded by trees with no view of a city or sounds of traffic and sirens. Walking the trails of these hills, I was reminded of my early years, being close to nature, care-free, the worries of my daily life thousands of miles away. It was a delight!
The end of the trail dumps you out at the other end of the village. Walking through the streets of the village we could see houses that must have been hundreds of years old but were perfectly maintained and well lived-in. The geographic and cultural treasure these people possess here is starting to become apparent. I need to see more!