Disclaimer: This is the second part of the two parts on my tour in Germany. The first part comprises of Stuttgart and Berlin which is available in the 88th edition of Entelechy. Here I’ll be talking about Tubingen, Nagold and Bregenzerwald.
Tubingen is the place that will always remain closest to my heart. It is by far the most beautiful place of the entire Baden-Württemberg. Axel, Achim’s childhood friend lives in Tubingen with his lovely wife Ulrike and they have a son named Martin (Martin is so zestful, I sometimes wonder if he’s on steroids!). Axel and Ulrike met when they were violoncellist in an orchestra since then Axel has been working in a music library while Ulrike completed her Ph.D. in Chemistry and she later went on to become a visiting faculty at the University of Tubingen. But the most amazing thing about them is the immense modesty in which they live. They don’t have a “smart” cell, nor they have a Television, they’ve kept themselves at bay from the internet and mostly from everything that the current generation can’t live without. Ulrike has left her job and she’s now into organic planting and flowering and she does it beautifully. She cultivates all the vegetables and luscious strawberries and delicious apricots in her own backyard (so much so that they also have a bee house in their backyard from which they extract honey). As for Axel, he bakes their own bread, he’s an amazing pâtissier (I’ll come to that later) and he’s made the entire furniture of their house and yes, he cooks amazing food. I visited them once when I was 3 (too naughty back then) and they grew very fond of me since then, every time they’d send regards when aunt came home, so when I was visiting them again after 15 years, I couldn’t hold my horses. The way from Stuttgart to Tubingen is really captivating, with lush green fields and farmers’ places with the mountains in the backdrop. When I opened the door, their cute little cat Maya came to greet me, and then I finally met them, the most lovely people I’ve ever met till date living in the cutest home I’ve ever been in, with all the walls and room decorated by the wonderful presents we’ve gifted them throughout these years. We all gathered around the dining table (obviously crafted by Alex) to have a rich juicy melt-in-your-mouth strawberry cake baked by him. I swear it was the most devilishly good cake I’ve ever had! They also made the tastiest pizza layered with juicy tomato sauce and topped with fresh veggies right from the backyard along with a refreshing tea infused with some aromatic herbs which Ulrike cultivates. We all talked late in the night and finally, Niel, Martin and I built up a tent in the backyard and slept there. The next morning they took me on a tour of the cute little town. We started from the historic Hohentübingen Castle which was initiated around the 10,00’s and completed in the 16,00’s, from the castle you can get an amazing panoramic view of the Swabian Alp with the old city on one side and the Neckar river on the other. The castle is famous for two main reasons, the first one being that the castles inhibits several faculties of the University of Tubingen (I also saw the place where Ulrike studied her Doctorate) and the second and most important fact, that the castle houses one of the most important museums of human art named Alte Kulturen including the World Heritage Site Pfahblauten, which exhibits cultural and architectural artifacts (the world’s oldest musical instrument is also on display in addition to the Egyptian sacrificial chamber) dating back around 40,000 years. (pro-tip: don’t forget to visit Leonardo Da Vinci’s Ex Machina on display) For anyone who’s interested in archaeology, this place is heaven. No kidding. From there we headed to St. George’s Church which is famous for its colorful glass paintings, we went to the top of the church (around 200 spiraling steps) and I was left breathless by the view from the top. The view was so captivating that I could’ve contemplated for eternity. When you stroll around in the old town, everything would seem so aesthetic and sublime, from the cute cafes to the lively market square(Keep an eye out for No 15, where a white window frame identifies a secret room where Jews hid in WWII.) it’s definitely one of those perfectly painted old towns in the middle of a city where everything is butterfly and roses. From there we went biking through the Naturpark Schönbuch Nature Reserve, where Martin got lost because he was biking too fast, but later we found out that he had completed the entire ride and was playing with his mates (yes he was on steroids :p ). That was all about that day. The next day was my last one in Tubingen and I couldn’t believe that I was leaving this beautiful place and the lovely people here, even sometimes now when I look back at those moments, I get all emotional. That place really means a lot to me and all that is because of two lovely people, of Axel and Ulrike. Just when we were heading off for a boat ride in the Neckar, we came across Axel’s neighbors, lovely couple, the girl (she’s from Kazakhstan) plays piano and the guy (he’s from France) is a saxophonist in a jazz ensemble, they met in a music school in Vienna and since their graduation they moved into Tubingen. So all of us went together in an old punt to sail in the Neckar with Axel on the pole and I kid you not, it was the most amazing boat ride ever, with bright colorful chalets on each side of the Neckar and an endless sight of the river ahead. And that was Tubingen for me. Fast forward two more hours and I’m in the U Bahn on my way back to Stuttgart, reminiscing about every little moment spent in Tubingen.
This cute little town is the birthplace of Achim and his two brothers, the elder being Hansi and the younger, Alexander. While Achim lives full time in Stuttgart, Hansi commutes daily from Nagold to Stuttgart and Alex still lives in their old lovely house in Nagold, a very small town with a beautiful city center and vivid half-timbered houses, located on the edges of the black forest. As soon I stepped inside their front porch, it all came back to me. Flashbacks of all the moments I spent here, in this house when I was merely three. When I stepped inside the house, and climbed up the stairs, with my fingers sliding gently along the banister, I felt a strong sense of Déjà vu, and all of it was so nostalgic. We then had a really nice breakfast with fresh vegetables, bread, marmalade and all of it was really satisfying, then came along Alex’s two cute little sons, Hans, probably around five and Henry who’s merely two years of age, although Hans couldn’t understand English, Niel translated it for him, so we had a fairly good time. Alex runs his own business of customizing vintage cars and motorbikes, he also merchandises custom motorcycle jackets and probably every accessory related to motorbikes , and he does all of this is a huge garage where you can have a look at some really cool motorbikes like the Norton Commando, the moto Guzzi café racer(well, he liked that bike so much that he finally decided to keep it for himself) and many more. As for cars, he owns a Mercedes SL280 automatic from the 1980s and a 1986 BMW 3 Series Cabriolet which I drove around for quite a while (breaking rules in a foreign country wasn’t at the top of my bucket list, but still :p). The next day we went walking to the Hohennagold Castle, from atop the castle the view of the city and the Black forest is really mesmerizing, get a nice latte and some pastries and you’d be happy to spend your entire day there. On the way back home, Niel and I went to the Evangelische Stadtkirche and there was a wonderful wedding ceremony going on, so we took some drinks and went to the belfry of the church, and the view from the top was amazing(okay, to be honest, we went up there thrice after that, not because of the view but because we got free drinks :p). Yeah, so that sums up mostly everything about my short stay at Nagold.
(Drumrolls please) Bregenzerwald.
This place is so beautiful and aesthetic that at some point, you’ll actually start doubting the existence of such a place, you’ll start believing that all this is just a dream and, in a minute, or two you’d be wide awake in your bed. But no, this place does exist, in the state of Vorarlberg, Austria just a 3-hour ride from Stuttgart. No words can describe this place. Mesmerizing, beautiful, impeccable and beauteous. Remember the scenic landscape in the Lord of the Rings? Well, this place is even more pictorial. It just looks like a beautifully painted picture. It’s nature at its prime. So, before I go on telling you about the beauty of this place, allow me to tell you a bit more about this place and its people. Bregenzerwald is a collection of 23 beautiful villages with about 30,000 people (and as many cows), the locals – “Walder” are proud of their rich culture and heritage yet receptive to new things.
When inside the village, you notice a subtle blend of tradition and modernity infused in the architecture with exceptional craftsmanship, the Walder excel in this along with being wonderful hosts. Bregenz Obstbrand (or call it Austrian Schnapps), prepared from Apples or pears or plums and apricots are the signature drinks of this region. Apples are used along with pears to make Obstwasser; pears are used to produce Poire Williams; several types of plums make Zwetschgenwasser; apricots are used to make Austrian Marillenschnaps. Exotic wine and some really herbaceous and smoky cheese are some more things to look out for. Our hosts’ residence was in Bizau and they cheerfully greeted us and showed us in, it was a really nice house (I was really amazed to see such sophisticated houses in remote places like this) and it was just when I opened the balcony that I dropped my lower jaw. I was stunned by the breath-taking view from our balcony, never have I ever in my wildest dreams dreamt of such a beautiful view of glaciers surrounded by Arêtes covered with a thin sheet of snow from which narrow Afèith’s stream down seamlessly through vivid fields and the beautiful small timber houses which are decorated by lovely flowers. Everything was so beautiful. So that day I pretty much spent time dropping my jaw and picking it up again when we went around in the village. It was autumn when I visited Bregenzerwald so we had no chance of skiing, instead, we went on beautiful hiking trails for hours and hours. We’d start off early in the morning from our home with our stomach full of fruits and muesli and then we’d head off to the ropeway station. The ride in the cable car is so exciting, you literally get goosebumps when you’re elevating so steep and glancing at the landscape below, it’s just amazing, with all those glaciers surrounding you and the tiny little houses far down below. We hopped off the cable car at the last station and went up to the panorama point. From the deck of panorama point, you get a breath-taking three-hundred-and-sixty-degree panoramic view of the entire landscape with snow-capped mountains as far as your eyes can see and steep trails deep down. The trek downhill is the most adventurous, meted ice and snow make the trail a lot slippery and if it starts to rain, pray to God that you reach the bottom in a single piece. While on the trail, there are a couple of farmer’s place, a small hut where the farmers themselves serve really nice food, fresh from their field. Then there are also these exiting chair ropeways which scare the shit out of you because you’re simply sitting in a chair that is hanging onto a rope at about two thousand meters above civilization with only a steel rod in the front to keep you in so that you don’t jump out of excitement. Every morning we’d take a different trail where there’d be wonderful scenery surrounding us, with valleys, mountains, and streams of water all around us. We roamed around in the wonderful villages where there’d be cute cottages with brooks splashing against the narrow banks on each side, there’d also be farmers and shepherds with their livestock. The entire place is so picturesque that it challenges my vocabulary, I hope you get the essence of how it feels to be in such an amazing place. All in all, it was a fabulous experience which I will cherish forever. Beautiful!
The entire trip was an eye-opener for me, it exposed me to a number of new things, from culture to food to people to ideas to perspectives and a lot more and yet there any many more places to explore, things to be seen, people to meet and feelings to be felt.
Cover photo: Bregenzerwald