Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Christmas break in Germany

As the end of the year approached we had the happy opportunity of a few days unused holiday and an outstanding promise to visit some friends who live in Germany, in Biblis, a small town south of Frankfurt. So having agreed with our unsuspecting hosts in advance we scheduled to fly from Birmingham to Frankfurt on Boxing Day, returning on Wednesday 29th (it was literally a flying visit).

Sunday evening was spent catching-up over a fondue and beer, and Monday started with a promise of a trip to the Black Forest. It's fair to say we hadn't appreciated quite how far it is to travel to get there, so with feeding a family and getting them ready and then the drive, then a late lunch, we could only squeeze in a 45-minute walk before it was cake o'clock (a surprisingly important time, we discovered).

It was already quite late when we set out, but very atmospheric:



And the whole of the area we travelled through, including the short walk, was under a thick and early covering of snow:



After our walk in the forest, followed by cake in a very pleasant family restaurant, we visited a 'festival of light' in the town of Triberg, not too far from said cake retailing facility. This was the Christmas Tree:



There were also fireworks, light shows and fire-eating displays around the large waterfall in the town, with live music plus a Christmas market selling festive food and drink. It was, however, bitterly cold and very crowded, so after a couple of hours we headed back.

On the Tuesday we selected a Schloss (Castle) to visit and picked one not too far from the house, in Braunfels. We wanted what we felt was the classic combination of pointy bits, age and history. Braunfels delivered!



What we hadn't at first appreciated was the historical importance of the Schloss, being linked so directly to a line of Kings who ruled the United Kingdom and Hanover (though Hanover was annexed by the Prussians).



It really is quite a magnificent specimen. We were also delighted the young chap on the till in the cafe cum entrance shop put on an impromptu tour for us and a few other people who turned up, all English speakers as it happened. We really did enjoy our visit, it ticked all the Schloss boxes we'd wanted:





The view from the courtyard:



Having visited the Schloss we walked down into the surrounding town of Braunfels:





It's a very picturesque place filled with good cafes selling coffee and, indeed, cake! We headed from Braunfels to Weilburg, home to another Schloss, though this one more in the style of a country manor, plonked atop a hill with a town around it (none of the working battlements, canon and archery defences of Braunfels):



Weilburg itself though is another very picturesque spot and one worth a trip around on a boat, in the summer however when it isn't quite so cold!



We enjoyed our brief trip to Germany and will try very hard next time to visit in something other than deep winter, hopefully to fit in some birding too!

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