Travel journal: Alsace & Black Forest – Episode 6: Waterfalls, cuckoo clocks and cakes

The sun is shining high over Triberg when we leave our apartment We’re headed to the town center to look for a place where we can have breakfast and start the day full of energy As we get to the center, this unique fountain welcomes us It depicts three peasants disguised as Devil, Red fox and Feathered Beak During the Peasants’ war of 1525, local serfs wore jester costumes and refused to deliver the “Shrovetide Chicken” that they were obliged to bring to the castle In the meantime we’ve found this place that seems to sell mostly pork products but also pastries and muffins that will be our breakfast When we’re done with our muffins – and by the way mine was a delicious Schokomuffin, a chocolate muffin – we get in line to go visit the waterfall in Triberg which is the highest of all Germany We get in for free because we have a special card that the owner of our apartment gave us We spend just 1 euro for a bag of peanuts because it looks like there are lots of red squirrels in these woods that just love them After a few meters we can spot the waterfall but it’s only by going up a steep path that we can win the prize of seeing it in its entirety It’s the Gutach river that generates these waterfalls when it encounters this steep wall full of rocks and luxuriant vegetation along the way But it’s not over, because you can go further up until you reach a point where you can see the waterfall from up close and from above So we start walking again and we keep going up We’re at the top of the waterfall. We followed a quite steep path to get all the way up here We’ve bought this bag of peanuts for 1 euro at the ticket booth because it seems that there are red squirrels here, but we haven’t seen any so far… not even one Actually, there are a lot of signs along the way that indicate the existence of squirrels here and there are wooden booths everywhere where you can buy bags of peanuts There are two options then: either the squirrels are so shy that they keep hiding from us or this is the biggest business strategy implemented by peanut producers and by the way we end up eating the peanuts ourselves Even though we don’t see any squirrels, at least we can admire the beautiful view of Triberg from up here and we can give in to the relaxing sound of the waterfall We start going back down and Enea, the real red squirrel of these woods climbs here and there to pick up mostly raspberries which abound in the bushes along the path Once we get back to the foot of the waterfall, after a 10-minute walk we find the Bergsee a pond with dark green waters that we were expecting to be much bigger And yet, despite its small size, the Bergsee is full of charm with the typical houses with slooping roofs that are reflected in the lake the lush trees with all the shades of green the wooden dock and the little boat moored next to it and the ducks that live here And in the early 900s, they even had ice skating champions on the frozen Bergsee during the winter We seize the opportunity to rest for a bit on this nice lawn while Enea, as you would expect, goes crazy with joy when he discovers the playground of the Bergsee and immediately starts trying, one by one, all the different forms of entertainment that it provides to the kids In the meantime, it’s time to have lunch and luckily, there’s a really nice restaurant right on the side of the lake that offers interesting dishes It seems like a very popular restaurant too because there’s only one free table inside which we rush to occupy Once we’ve made our choice the nice waiters who have a southamerican origin bring us baked spaghetti for Enea Yes, that’s right… baked a delicious dish of ravioli filled with meat, caramelized onions and barbecue sauce for me and Marco, and… A nice salad to stay in shape Lunch has been fulfilling and the staff very kind at the Bergseestüble and if we have the chance, we’ll come back here but we need to get going now perhaps flapping our hands a bit, like a bird and get back to the car that we’ve parked at the end of one of these paths by the edge of the woods we just need to find out which one ! We take a break along the way at the frog fountain where there was once a spring, that through an aqueduct, used to provide pure water to the buildings of the Triberg district and that saved them from the typhus outbreak of 1884 which affected instead the citizens that drank the water coming from the Gutach river We drink this refreshing water and fill up our bottles before going any further We’re back in our car and we’re headed not too far from Triberg It’s just outside of Triberg, in the town of Schonach, that we can find the first biggest cuckoo clock in the world Yes, this clock too, together with the one we’ve seen in Hornberg is considered the biggest in the world and it looks like there’s some competition between the inhabitants of the two towns The difference is that, to see the front side of this clock, you need to pay Once inside the clock-house, the owner shows us the gears and the huge pendulum that marks the time The movement of the gears, just like in every cuckoo clock, is guaranteed by some weights that make the sprockets turn by means of gravity Obviously in this case, considering the size of the clock, the weight is 70 kg The cuckoo comes out every half hour and two pistons going up and down alternately activate two bellows that produce the typical sound This is the model and the original is 50 times bigger and it’s 38 years old My father built it and it took him 3 years Yes, and it’s all hand made The weather is a problem for the clock because when it rains, it goes a bit slower and when it’s warm, it goes faster because the wood expands but I think it’s only one or two minutes per day Since it’s hot today, then we won’t have to wait longer than needed In the meantime, while we’re waiting, the woodcutter swings his axe every 10 seconds the owl looks around the water wheel keeps turning and turning and Enea and Barbara mark the time just like the gears of a big cuckoo clock and then at 4 o’clock sharp, the protagonist shows up The cuckoo seems a bit tired and depressed Oh well, let’s leave him alone ang go back to Triberg that is also famous for something else It’s right here that the Black Forest cake was born in 1915 at the hands of the pasty chef Josef Keller and we absolutely need to try it ! This restaurant seems to be ideal because the Schwarzwald torte is home made and besides, the waiter talks to us in perfect Italian and shouts: Oh you’re Italian ? Much better ! They make the typical cake of the Black Forest here which is called Schwarzwald torte and it’s supposed to be home made, so… it’s made with chocolate, sour cherries… well, you’ll see it later. We’re going to film it… So we’re just waiting for them to bring it to us And here it is, in all its glory, the chocolate cake filled with whipped cream and sour cherries that Enea seems to like a lot To reach our next destination, we’ll have to leave Triberg and drive southward for about one and a half hour We’re headed to the Todtnau waterfalls that are right in the middle of a wild environment between the mountains and the thick forest Luckily it only takes 6 minutes to reach the waterfall from the street where we’ve parked our car The waterfall originates from the Stubenbach river and plunges over 5 stages, partly free and partly sliding on the rocks for about 97 meters It looks like there’s a lot going on at the foot of the waterfall and someone is even washing his face with its water Well, we absolutely have to do it too then, even though the sun is going down and it’s not as warm as it was earlier The first ones to go are Marco and Enea who, during the whole drive here, had complained the whole time because he didn’t want to go see a waterfall and just wanted to go back home right away but now, not only does he feel reinvigorated by the cold water that flows on his feet but he also seems to be excited at the idea of climbing these rocks to get as high as possible and reach the point where the jet of water seems to be more intense And like an Alpine ibex, he keeps climbing under his dad’s supervision, grabbing every possible fixed point of support along the way And when his endeavour is completed, from the rock that he has conquered with so much effort he smiles at us from up above to celebrate his accomplishment As for me, I have no desire of giving up the pleasant feeling that the cool water provides me to go rock climbing on the side of the waterfall and so I stay here and I just walk around getting as close as possible to the point where the rocks create an obstacle for the turbulent flow of water and produce some sort of white foam that splashes all over the back of my shorts and make them completely wet and at this time of the day the sun is gone and cannot even dry them And there’s even someone who, despite his leg problems and the brace he’s wearing, doesn’t give up this beautiful experience and jumps lightheartedly from rock to rock In the meantime Enea and Marco have moved further down and are now resting on a big flat rock in the middle of the stream while a few steps away, someone has brought all he needs to make a romantic dinner at the foot of the waterfall It would great if we could also have dinner here, but unfortunately we don’t have any food or tools to cook it So we go back to the car and we get ready to go back to our apartment We’ll stop in Titisee along the way to eat something It’s a quite tourist town but here you can admire the lake with the same name that’s also known as the pearl of the Black Forest Titisee is a typical beach resort town with restaurants of all kinds and wide sidewalks and squares where, after a long day by the lake you can go for a walk or ride your bicycle eat an icecream have fun at the small amusement park where the really high ferris wheel sticks out or simply find a peaceful place where you can watch the beautiful lake that originated from a glacier, it’s surrounded by the Black Forest and inspired so many writers like the Grimm brothers, among others And we’re also fascinated by such a… fairytale place We stopped at the Titisee lake for dinner and we’ve found out that it’s a really nice place it’s mostly a beach resort but it’s really pretty The water seems to be very clean too It’s good that we stopped here. I have a headache and I wanted to go back home. But it was really worth it. Enea is also fascinated by such a beautiful lake and when he spots the fish swimming in these clear waters, he starts daydreaming and imagines he’s a fisherman Mom, I’m not kidding But where are we going to find a fishing net at this time of the day, Enea ? We’ll see if any stores are open later We’ll give it a try What does he want to do ? He wants to buy a fishing net, catch some fish – because he think that’s easy enough – take them home and cook them Meanwhile the ferris wheel keeps taking high up whoever wants to admire the Titisee from up above taking them even higher than the sun that is already resting among the trees of the Black Forest

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