Lake Titisee and the Black Forest

lake-titisee-14-09-16-2When we were looking for somewhere to visit in the Black Forest and Lake Titisee was mentioned, I readily agreed. I imagined a charming lake in a remote part of the forest with a nice walking trail around it where we could spend a couple of hours ambling and a pretty town where you could stop for tea and cake. That was the dream. Turns out I know nothing and Lake Titisee is in fact a commercial-driven tourist-hotspot. Queue much disappointment from me…

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First things first, it wasn’t all bad. The lake itself is a stunning 2.5km-long glistening body of fresh water nestled between the lush dark green pine-covered mountains of the Black Forest. It’s not that big and we took a 25-minute boat ride around the lake to admire it from every angle.

I also had a wonderfully fresh and enormous goat’s cheese and walnut salad at a lakeside café where we stopped for lunch. The salad consisted of goat’s cheese, walnuts, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, carrot, sweetcorn and strawberries with a balsamic vinegar dressing. Despite the huge portion size, it was so good I ate every last morsel.

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The town of Titisee on the banks of the lake, however, is very touristy with large resorts with cordoned-off private beaches along the lake and lots of dare-I-say-it tacky souvenir shops selling slabs of black forest ham, cherry liqueur and the infamous cuckoo clock. The town was also heaving with coach-loads of rude tourists, which only added to my disappointment. There’s nothing wrong with the town per se, it’s just that it’s a bit cheesy and once you’ve been in one or two of the souvenir shops, you’ve essentially seen them all. You also can’t stroll around the edges of the lake as I’d have liked because of all the private beaches.

After our visit to the lakeside town, we went for a drive through the Black Forest, past the towns of Munsterthal (above) and Staufen (the spot where Doctor Faustus allegedly sold his soul to the devil). The scenery was spectacular with breathtaking views of the pine-covered mountains, deep valleys and pretty chocolate-box alpine chalets. We also passed loads of mountain goats, in some cases perched very precariously on the side of the mountain, and cows sporting cowbells around their necks. It was a glorious drive and a great end to a not-so-great day.

 

 

 

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Breisach-am-Rhein

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After a long two-day drive from the UK, we spent our first morning in Alsace chilling in our little rented house. But by the afternoon we were ready to start exploring and decided to find out just how close we were to the German border. We crossed the Rhine at a nearby hydro-electric power station, before driving a few miles up the road to Breisach-am-Rhein.

Breisach-am-Rhein is a pretty town on the banks of the Rhine, dominated by St Stephen’s Munster, which sits high on a rock overlooking the town. It was a gloriously hot and sunny day and on arriving, we immediately headed down to the river. The blue-green river, which was glistening in the sunshine, looked very inviting as I watched, somewhat envious, all the people swimming on the French side of the Rhine. I was surprised by just how busy the river was, it was packed with people jet-skiing, swimming and sailing.

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After a brief amble down to the water’s edge, we decided to climb a series of steps that wound around the side of the hill up to the cathedral. Having reached the top, we stopped to take in the beautiful views of the Rhine below, the mountains of the Black Forest to the south and the Vosges mountains to the north-west. But the object of my attention was St Stephen’s Munster, which was situated in a small square opposite the Town Hall. We walked around it to get a better look at the attractive and intriguing brown stone cathedral we’d been admiring from afar, before heading inside.

I ventured through the cathedral’s large wooden doors, passing some very old, faded frescoes on the walls near the entrance. The cathedral had high-vaulted ceilings, an ornate wooden altar and pretty stained glass windows, awash with reds, dark blues and yellows. Before the altar, I joined the crowds of people admiring an incredibly ornate silver chest on a golden board held up by four golden lions, which is said to hold the bones of St Gervasius and St Protasius, the patron saints of Breisach.

After wandering around the cathedral, we stopped off at a cafe-bar overlooking the river before heading home. We had a nice afternoon in Breisach. It’s a charming town and was a great place to spend a relaxing laid-back afternoon in the sun.