Au revoir, Strasbourg
Unfortunately, my time in Strasbourg has come to an end. Exploring this city has been a great adventure uncovering its layers of history while eating some delicious foods along the way. I’ve decided that for every city I visit for the remainder of this trip, I have to dedicate part of the trip to explore by bike. Not only from a practical perspective of covering as much ground as possible, but also from the fact that riding a bike anywhere is always fun, and when you do it in a brand new city, your understanding of the city’s geography and identity expands ten-fold.
Hills & Woods
Today, I had the great fortune of visiting a friend in a small town called Bad Teinach-Zalverstein on the way back to Sindelfingen. My journey took me through many villages and towns along the northern part of the Black Forest within Baden-Württemburg, the official state where Stuttgart and other cities are located in SW Germany.
First of all, today’s weather was perfect. Bright blue, sunny skies all around, with fresh mountain air delivered by gentle winds coupled with constant sunshine. It felt too good to be true, so I expect rain soon to balance my expectations for the month of April.
Today’s drive included some elevation changes. My water bottle was adjusting for the altitude gain by releasing pressure every so often. While I didn’t reach the highest parts of the Black Forest, it was definitely a fun drive heading up into the hills and down into the valleys.
Castle on the Hill
I have to admit: I have a slight obsession with villages that are located at the bottom of a valley surrounded with beautiful hills and mountains on all sides. There’s something so picturesque and beautiful about a sequestered little town, away from the hustle and bustle of larger cities and metropolitan areas that I found so appealing.
Stepping out of my car in Bad Teinach-Zavelstein, I noticed how quiet it was outside. In general, this is something that I’m still adjusting to as I explore villages around Germany. Coming from a pretty large urban area, finding peace can be a real challenge. Of course, I should strive to find zen-like-peace within myself, but living in a place that geographically makes this process easier helps out a lot. I'm starting to picture myself living somewhere like this in the future.
I learned today that the term "Bad" means "bath" in German. Across Germany, and more broadly across Europe, natural hot springs have been a stable go-to for centuries. Like me, many have had the idea to get away, relax and explore in their free time. Historically, while these baths were commonly used by the general public, they were also used as prescribed therapy for patients who needed alternative methods of aid. Bad Teinach-Zavelstein is home to one of the many baths across Germany.
Interestingly, I also learned that houses in such areas were commonly built to have multiple units, which explained why some of these houses were so large, something that I was pondering for some time while driving up. Initially, I assumed that either German families are really, really big, or these are hotels or road-side BnBs. Turns out, I wasn't too far from the latter (the former hasn't been (in)validated yet, so not sure about that), as these houses were designed to host visitors and patients from out-of-town who came to visit the baths. Owning a house out here could be great investment.
After meeting up with Tom (and eating a delicious cake prepared by Meike!), we set off on a hike up to the nearby ruins of Schloss (Burg) Zavelstein (translation: schloss/burg means "castle"). One thing that caught my eye on the way up was the color of the dirt/earth. A few days ago, while driving through Pforzheim on the way to Strasbourg, I noticed large deposits of what looked like reddish-brown clay on the side of the highway. Walking up the hiking path, I learned that this reddish-brown earth actually comes from sandstone, which is commonly used (or at least was used in the past) for the foundations of houses and other buildings. Apparently, Germany has pockets of natural sandstone deposits across the country. I'll file this away as my fun fact for the day.
Built around the early 13th century, Schloss Zavelstein sits on the top of a hill overlooking the surrounding areas and valleys well above the tree line. The central tower was open today. It's quite the view from the top. The air was crisp and clean, definitely a change from the smog that I've grown up with and have become accustomed to enjoying regularly.
Coming down from the castle, we headed over to a restaurant lodge tucked away next to the road. I was surprised to find it busy with many hikers and walkers from around the area, on a Sunday, that too Easter Sunday.
I had the Schwäbische linsen mit Spätzle und Saitenwurst (translation: Swabian lentils with German noodles and string sausage) – sehr gut und lecker! (translation: very good and delicious!) Finishing off my Radler (half beer, half sparkling lemonade/Sprite), we walked back to the car where I said my good-byes.
Thank you, Tom and Meike for a wonderful day ❤️!
It Goes Without Saying
Today I parked in a public parking lot. As I stepped out of the vehicle, I came across the following sign.
From what I could gather, this basically meant that one could park for up to 5 Std. (translation: hours) between 6:00 and 20:00 (6:00AM - 8:00PM). However, I couldn't find a ticketing system. I did however find a nice public bathroom which I promptly used after my drive up from Strasbourg. I didn't think much of trying to hunt for a ticket machine. I noticed that other cars didn't have anything posted in their window dashboards, so I thought the risk of getting a parking ticket wasn't too high.
Before setting off for the hike, I mentioned to Tom that I parked at the public lot. He recommended that I place a ticket on the dash. But I was confused – where would I find a ticket if there was no machine? Little did I know, I actually had a blue ticket badge with a rotating dial in my side pocket that I didn't notice until now. To park for 5 hours in this lot, I needed to indicate my arrival time, which I did by turning the dial to 11:00. If a parking attendant came by, they could see when I arrived, and if it was within the allowed time period, I was in the clear. The posted sign now makes a lot more sense when reading it a second time. So simple, yet so effective.
Thank you, Tom!
Today was a great day to spend my Easter Sunday. One more day of "vacation" before heading back into the daily work routine.
Frieden und Liebe ❤️ (translation: peace and love)