"A Walk In The Black Forest" ("Eine Schwarzwaldfahrt") by Horst Jankowski was one of my German grandmother's favourite tunes, so when I finally got to visit the Black Forest and walk in it myself, of course this was the soundtrack replaying in my head.
Its relentlessly jaunty - some would claim 'perkily irritating' - beat certainly provides an excellent rhythm for walking and the Black Forest is without question a brilliant place for hiking. Follow this link if you'd like to sample this annoyingly catchy tune for yourself:
A Walk In The Black Forest by Horst Jankowski
It is often claimed that the Black Forest was the birthplace of hiking, and that Philipp Bussemer (originally a haberdasher) opened the first tourist information centre here in 1864 to promote hiking, and produced a range of hiking guides and maps to encourage visitors to explore the area on foot.
The forest (called 'black' by the way because of the dark foliage of the conifers and the limited amount of light it admits to the forest floor) is crisscrossed with hiking paths and you will be spoiled for choice between the myriad alternatives that will suit every level of available time and athletic ability. Because of the popularity of hiking in this region, there are many websites and publications devoted to this subject, but the website below should provide a useful starting point.
Taking at least one hike - however short - should be considered to be a religious observance for anyone visiting this region!
P.S. If you look into the background of the photo, you'll see that after 50 years of marriage, my parents still walk hand in hand. How wonderful is that?
Now here's a tip that's bound to cause controversy (or would be if indeed anyone ever gets around to reading a page on obscure Furtwangen) because a quick Google will indicate that there are more purported sources of the Donau (Danube) than you can shake a stick at!
The problem arises from the fact that rivers almost always have several tributaries, each of which is sustained by a spring at its source - hence the seemingly endless squabbles about whether the Amazon or the Nile is the longest river in the world, for example. 'Many tributaries' therefore means 'many sources' (so the fact that there are several claimants for this honour makes sense) - but the trick is to find the longest tributary, whose spring is then defined in hydrological terms as THE source of that particular river.
This particular spring is the source of the Breg River, which is apparently the Donau's longest tributary. I can't help but comment that there isn't exactly water gushing to surface here - more of a genteel seep into a picturesque little tree-lined pool - and it's hard to imagine that this is the start of Europe's second largest river.
One really whimsical aspect is that there is a spot on the path a few tens of metres from the spring where you can straddle the watershed between the Rhine and Donau basins with one foot in either catchment. An excellent way to come to terms with European geography, and - in hindsight - a splendid opportunity for a photocall (which makes me wonder why we didn't think to take one ourselves)!
If frolicking in flower-filled meadows features in your fantasy life, then the Black Forest during summer is definitely the place for you!
The meadows are the stuff of fairytales. I keep wanting to use the term 'alpine' to describe them - although I'm well aware that the Black Forest isn't part of the Alps - but it does have an alpine climate in that much of the region is above 1000m altitude and thus experiences cold, snowy winters and mild summers.
Once you get down to ground level, the diversity of plants is amazing and very beautiful. However, this is not the docile grass of which lawns are made, and the meadow grass can be quite itchy and uncomfortable to sit on. So if picknicking is part of your plan (before, during or after frolicking), you'd be well advised to bring a blanket or a towel to sit on!
Marktplatz 9, Furtwangen, 78120, de
Good for: Business
Neuweg 11, Furtwangen, Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg, Germany
Good for: Families
Oberbregenbach 1 / Neueck, Furtwangen, Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg, 78120, Germany
Unterbregenbach 1, Furtwangen, Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg, 78120, Germany
Visiting churches is one of the absolute highlights of a trip to Europe, and provides a fascinating insight into the most powerful influencethat has shaped European cultures of the past couple of millenia.
Unlike some other religions - where access to places of worship may be restricted to members of that religious group or a specific gender - the vast majority of Christian churches will allow tourists to visit at most times, including routine services (although some may charge an admission fee for doing so, and access may be denied for private events such as weddings and funerals). However, tourists should realise that most churches are still active places of worship, and so visitors need to exhibit a certain sensitivity to display respect to the culture and avoid giving offence to people at prayer.
The following guidelines are based on wonderful advice offered by Homer (homaned) - who does this for a living - in a forum response, and although specifically written for Christian places of worship, would apply equally to places of worship for other religions
So, here is a general list of do's and don'ts for people wishing to photograph during a church service:
READ THE SIGNS
If photography is not permitted - because, for example, it may damage paint on delicate murals - this will usually be indicated by a pictogram of a camera with a red line through it. Under most circumstances, you can assume that photography will be allowed (unless otherwise indicated), but may not be permitted during services. If in doubt, ask for clarification - this shows respect and will very seldom be met with anything other than a helpful response.
TURN OFF YOUR FLASH!
Every camera on the market has a button on it which will turn off the flash. The number one most alarming and distracting thing that can happen during a liturgy, and one which will even get you kicked out of some churches, is the bright flash that goes off when you take a picture. Not only is it distracting, but it usually makes the picture turn out dark, because your camera's flash only has about a 10-15' range. Turn off the flash, and hold the camera up against your eye, using the viewfinder, and you will likely get a better picture (and you definitely won't have any red-eye problems!).
DON'T MOVE AROUND ALL OVER THE PLACE! (UNLESS YOU HAVE PERMISSION)
Instead of walking all over down the main aisle and in front of everybody, pick a good place from which to take a picture at the beginning of the liturgy, and stay there. Unless you're a professional photographer with practice at stealthily moving during liturgies, you're a distraction, and you're being disrespectful. Even if you're a pro, try to stick to one out-of-the-way place, and use a zoom lens and zoom in to get pictures. Walking in front of people is a surefire way to distract and disrespect and closing in on priests or other celebrants just to capitalise on a photo opportunity is offensive.
TURN OFF THE CAMERA'S SOUND!
Every camera has some way to mute all its 'cute' beeps and clicking noises. If you press a button, and hear a beep, or if you take a picture and hear an obnoxious shutter clicking sound, you need to turn off those sounds (the muting option is usually in one of the menus). Along with the flashing, it's an obvious sign that someone is taking pictures and not showing much respect for those trying to pay attention to the liturgy.
TURN OFF THE 'FOCUS ASSIST' LIGHT!
If your camera can't focus without the little laser-light that shines in everyone's eyes before your camera takes a picture, then don't use your camera. You have to turn that light off! It is very distracting to be watching a lector or priest, and see a little red dot or lines pop up on his face all of the sudden. It's as if some rifleman is making his mark! Turn the light off (again, look in the menus for the option to turn off the 'AF assist' or 'focus assist' light). If you can't turn it off, put a piece of duct tape or some other opaque material over the area where the light is, so the light won't shine on someone.
TURN OFF THE CAMERA'S LCD!
You should never use the LCD to compose your shots anyways; just put your eye up to the viewfinder, and that will not only not distract, it will also steady your camera against your face, making for a better picture (especially if you don't have the flash on). And if you must review the pictures you've taken, hold the camera in front of you, down low, so people behind you don't notice the big, bright LCD display on your camera
CERTAIN PARTS OF THE CEREMONY ARE PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE
The consecration (blessing) of the eucharist (bread and wine) and distribution of communion to the congregation are considered to be particularly sacred parts of the service, and it is offensive to photograph these activities.
The main thing is to try to be respectful of the culture and of other people present at the service. Don't distract. And, if you are asked to not take pictures, or if there's a sign saying 'no photography allowed,' then don't take pictures. You can always ask a priest's permission before the liturgy, but if he says 'No,' put away your camera and enjoy the freedom you have to focus on the privilege of being able to share an experience with people who consider these religious rituals core to their culture and identity, rather than focusing on your camera's LCD!
Homer's Rules ... Homer rules!