By Robert Lidster
I have visited Germany many, many times and have travelled through the Black Forest area on a couple of occasions, but I have never spent any real amount of time in the Black Forest, until now.
I was travelling with three adult family members; we were on a motoring holiday in Germany and had already spent three days in the Stuttgart area. We were now moving on to Titisee in the Black Forest for a three day stay at the Parkhotel Waldeck, a four star Golf and Wellness hotel.
The Black Forest (Schwarzwald in German) is situated in the Baden Wurttemberg region of Germany and covers an area of 12,000 square km (7,229 miles). It is almost rectangular in shape being some 200 km (120 miles) X 60 km (37 miles). The highest peak in the area is ‘The Feldberg’ which stands at 1,493 metres.
The name ‘Black Forest’ goes back to Roman times when the densely forested mountains were referred to as ‘Silva Nigra’ ( Black Forest) due to the fact that very little light got through the dense growth of conifers. Places of interest in the Black Forest include Freiburg (a university town), the Triberg Waterfalls (the most famous in Germany), Schchsee lake and of course Titisee lake where we were staying.
The Name Titisee is believed to come from the Roman Emperor Titus, it has an area of 1.3 square km (about 0.78 miles) and a depth of 20 metres. Due to constant movement of the lakes surface it takes some time to freeze over, although it is not unheard of. When it does freeze to an acceptable degree, the local council do allow public access to the lake. In the past the frozen lake has been used as an airstrip but unfortunately this led to a tragic accident when one of the tractors used to keep the runway free of snow broke through the ice and sank to the bottom of the lake, taking the driver with it.
We had booked our hotel on-line a few weeks before arriving and we were very surprised to find that many of the hotels in the area were already fully booked. The Parkhotel Waldeck only had a suite available, at 90 square metres it was a large suite with two double bedrooms, two shower/bathrooms, a lounge and a large landing with a pull-down double bed allowing accommodation for up to six people.
We arrived in Titisee at 13:15 and as we could not occupy our accommodation before 15:00 we went to a local restaurant and had lunch. It was a glorious sunny day and it was a delight to sit outside having lunch whilst watching the world go by. After lunch we checked into the hotel and made use of some of its facilities which include, swimming pool, hot tubs, sauna and steam room, treatment rooms for massages etc, internet, library, billiard room , bar and lounge area. Our suite was perfect for our stay and was very clean, it was on two levels with one bedroom downstairs and the other upstairs. There was a balcony which afforded wonderful views. A nice touch was the bags with everything that you needed for the Spa, (dressing gown and two towels).
Many of the hotels in the Black Forest operate a scheme whereby if you stay at least two nights you get a ‘Hochschwarzwald’ card. This card gives you free admission to many facilities as well as discount off many others and free rail travel in certain areas. We used the card for a free boat trip on the Titisee lake, a free electric bike ride and a 15 minute trial on a Segway.
During our three day stay in Titisee we visited Freiburg im Breisgau which is a University town, founded as a free market town in 1120. The centre of Freiburg is closed to private cars and the only way to get around is by foot or on one of the many trams that criss-cross the town centre. There are many old buildings and winding little streets to explore and two of the towers and part of the old wall still stand. As Freiburg is not car friendly, we left the car in Titisee and caught the train which took about 45 minutes and was a very scenic journey, albeit, on this occasion, a rather hot and crowded train owing to the exceptionally hot weather.
On another day we visited the Deutsches Uhrenmuseum (German Clock Museum) in Furtwangen. This was a fascinating place to visit, ideal for a rainy day, as it was when we visited. We used our Hochschwarzwald card to get discount on the entrance fee. That same day we visited Schuchsee lake which at 930 metres above sea level is the highest reservoir in Germany and the largest lake in the Black Forest. The lake is 7.3 km long (4.4 miles) and 1.4 km wide (0.84 miles) and has a maximum depth of 61 metres. The 63.5 metre dam was built between 1929 and 1932.
One of the things that I love about Germany is that no matter where you are, you can always be assured of finding wonderful hotels and restaurants where the food and service are excellent. We had no problems on this trip finding places to eat, even in the most out of the way locations. An example of this is when we were travelling from the clock museum in Furtwangen to Schuchsee Lake and wanted somewhere to have lunch. We came across the small village of Waldau and the ‘Hotel Sonne Post’, this is a family run hotel and the food and service was second to none.
When our three nights at the Parkhotel Waldeck in Titisee were over, we decided that we wanted a fourth night in the area and booked ourselves into the three star Schwarzwaldhof hotel in Hinterzarten, a small village Just a few miles from Titisee). This was actually one of the hotels that we had first tried to book for our visit but it was fully booked. Even for our one night stay they only had two rooms available which were not in the main hotel but in their guest house. The rooms were excellent and had balconies that afforded wonderful views over Hinterzarten and the surrounding mountains with the four ski jumps clearly visible. Continental breakfast was served in their own dining room so no need to go to the main hotel for that, although, we did have an evening meal in the hotels main restaurant. A beautiful area, well worth a visit.
Robert Lidster crossed the Channel with P&O Ferries on the Dover-Calais route.