Posted: 7/14/2006


  The monks called it 'Silva Nigri' in Latin, and the name, Black Forest
or Schwarzwald has stuck.
Its the biggest forest in Germany and over 80% coniferous, with deep
gorges and winding rivers and spectacular waterfalls. Fortunately the
express trains link it in no time to bigger cities.
  One hour south of Stuttgart, 1 hour east of Frieberg, the Black Forest
'capital', 90 minutes north of Zurich, Switzerland and a similar trip
from Karhlsruhe in the North West.
       I first headed to the Cuckoo Capital, Triberg, with its winding gorge
and more cuckoo clocks and carvings than you could put on every
mantlepiece on earth.In the evening I had a Badischer Specialitisch  - Baden special menu
with fladelesuppe, strips of pancake in broth, and a local pasta style
dish, washed down with a Wagner Beer from a local brewery. As I was
finishing the last few drops the table collapsed and the mug went
flying, so they gave me a full fresh one.
     Some of the local beers have spices and flower flavor and of course
there are lots of wines and schnapps. Baden-Wurttembourg is the state
and most of this are is in Baden.
     The local dress for ladies includes the 'Bollen Hut', or Ball Hat. In
all the web sites you can see photos of these big hats on the ladies,
with a dozen or more big red balls, or some have lots of silver balls
and all sorts of stuff on top.
      The local Wasserfall Gutch is the highest waterfall in Germany and
every year they have a firework display there. In the morning I was woken to the sound of the nearby waterfall and lots of song birds in this quiet village. I checked with the little
tourist office who said there were no cuckoos, but lots of tits: coal
tits, crested tits, big black and white tits, plus wood pigeons,
golden eagles and woodpeckers. 

     Trout were plentiful and on the menu of all the restaurants, and on the wall in
my hotel there was the framed front cover of a food magazine with the
lady who sold me the room and owned the ajacent cafe, with a fantastic
black forest cake that she had baked and had won some prize.
    There are lots of quaint little villages within 20 minutes of each
other. St. Georges with a pleasant lake, Villagen the largest town,
Offenburg where Wagner's is brewed, Donauschagen, Schowald, all with
unique medieval houses and centers, and my favorite-Rottweil, where
the big bad dogs come from.
    Local butchers, who in medieval times also owned the herds of animals,
wanted  a dog that would scare away the wolves and other wild animals
and so they bred the Rottweiler. Rottweil is a super little town with a very active center, which
survived the 30 years war. There are  a couple of 14 century
fountains, and unique bay windowed medieval houses in different pastel
colors on the main cobbled street, the Haupstrasse, and a Black Tower,
where each Lent the Fasnet Carnival Parade starts with its famous
fools, dressed in jester style uniforms and fools masks. It was also a
Roman settlement and there are remains of roman baths and a museum,
plus nearby vineyards.
    I read this morning that the President of Iran, who had pissed off the
mullahs and trained with the Iranian team prior to the World
Cup,showing off his ankles and calves no less, had defended Zinadene
Zidane  as defending the muslim faith, after he had delivered the
'Glasgow  handshake' in Berlin.
    Zizu has made it plain that he is a non practicing Muslim, like I have
been called a practicing Heathen-and much worse. He has a non muslim
Spanish wife and four kids, non with Muslim names.
Next stop a very neutral country and then the home of the champions.