Staufen – a castle, wine and Faust

On our way back from our adventure on the cable car we headed to the main station in Freiburg to make our way to Staufen. I have to admit that I was more tempted to go back to our hotel for a nap but my boyfriend insisted it would be worth it, and it was! Staufen is only about half an hour from Freiburg, or it would have been just half an hour away had we not had to watch our train pull out of the platform before we could buy a ticket as a drunk local was having trouble with the ticket machine!

But when we eventually made it we headed straight to the Staufener Burg, the ruins of a castle on a hill surrounded by vineyards. It’s a nice gentle walk up to the castle and from the top, you are treated to stunning views of the Rhine Valley, the town of Staufen and the Black Forest.

 

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The vineyards surrounding the castle, putting us in the mood for some more local wine!

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Stunning views over the Rhine valley.

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After we made it back down the hill we headed into the town, it sounds a bit cliche but it really did feel like stepping onto a film set! A really quaint and beautiful town. Staufen is also known for its link to Faust, as it is said that Staufen is where he met his end – there are lots of links to Faust in the town including murals and, of course, a wine named after him! You might also spot lots of plasters on the walls of the buildings in the town which say “Staufen darf nicht zerbrechen” (Staufen must not break). Due to a geothermal borehole created to heat the town hall, the town is now at risk of literally falling apart. You can find out more about the causes in this article. 

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The red block on the yellow building above represents a giant plaster with “Staufen darf nicht zerbrechen” written on it. It’s so sad that this beautiful town is at such a risk of literally falling apart.

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For dinner, we stumbled upon a wonderful place. We had watched the Hairy Bikers on their trip to the Black Forest and they talked about Besen, so we wanted to experience one for ourselves. Besen are seasonal restaurants that traditionally open to use up a winemaker’s excess wine at the end of the season! You can spot a Besen by the broomstick outside. As we visited in May, we thought that perhaps this wasn’t truly authentic in terms of using up wine at the end of a season, however, the location and atmosphere was exactly what we expected. It was a large barn-like space that was full of locals and the food was incredible, and it was so cheap! We had wine and a lot of food and it only came to twenty euros. I’d recommend a visit but I’m not sure of the name of where we went, so just look out for the broomstick at the bottom of the castle hill…

Look out for the next blog with photos from the last stop on our trip, Heidelberg!

 

 

 

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Freiburg and the Black Forest

After wandering around Basel we caught a train to Freiburg, located in the South West of Germany this city is known as the “Jewel of the Black Forest”. It’s a beautiful town, the sunniest in Germany apparently and as it is a university town it’s also quite lively! We enjoyed exploring the streets and sampling the local wine, it’s a must as this city is surrounded by vineyards. One of my highlights was travelling on a very long cable car up 1,284m to the top of Schauinsland, a beautiful mountain just outside the city. We went for a walk around the top of the mountain, also climbing an additional observation tower which gave stunning views. Apparently on a clear day, if you are lucky, you can see the Alps, however, as you can see from my photographs below there were a lot of low clouds when we visited.

Here are some photos of the town itself, it’s very quaint in the centre and we enjoyed some local white wine sitting in the square on our first evening.

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And here are some photos from our ascent in the cable car, and the views from the top of Schauinsland!

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I also took some shots in the forest itself capturing the beauty of the trees – inspired by a recent photography exhibition I went to at the V&A called ‘Into the Woods’ (and yes, I was singing Sondheim to myself the entire time).

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I tried out a few effects and blurring layers on these shots and I quite like the effect! There certainly was something magical about this landscape which I hope I’ve captured here.

More posts from this trip coming soon including a trip to Staufen and then our final stop, Heidelberg.

 

 

The start of a new adventure

Earlier this month my boyfriend and I set off for an adventure in the Black Forest! But we started off by flying to Basel before we got the train to Freiburg. We had a few hours to explore this Swiss city and of course, I took some photos.

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Look out for the next post with photos from Freiburg, Staufen and Heidelberg!

 

Shutter speed experiments!

I recently had a great day out with my Dad. We went to a beautiful photography exhibition of trees at the V&A followed by a delicious lunch and then a walk around Hyde Park. We headed to the Diana Memorial Fountain and were soon both crouched down on the floor playing with the shutter speed on our cameras to capture the beauty of the fountain and the different ways that the water flows around it.

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Lisbon & the Tagus River

Before heading to Lisbon I have to admit that I thought that the city was on the coast, with the Atlantic lapping at its feet. But it actually sits on the northern bank of the River Tagus, not far from where the river meets the sea.

We enjoyed walking along the river which does feel more like the coast at this point as it is so wide. The 25 de Abril Bridge is a landmark of the river and with The Sanctuary of Christ the King on the other side of the river overlooking the city you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in a mix of San Franciso and Rio de Janeiro!

We got the train further downstream to Belém, which is just 100km upriver from the Atlantic. Belém is home to some beautiful architecture and also the famous Pastéis de Belém – and yes it is worth the queue. We had a lot of custard tarts on this holiday and that was definitely the best.

The weather wasn’t on our side once again, but I really like these shots of the 25 de Abril Bridge and the solitary figure in the foreground.

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The images below are of the Padrão dos Descobrimentos which celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries.

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The looming threat of rain did make for some atmospheric photos!

The Belém Tower is a beautiful sight and with its ornate decoration I had thought it might just be a decorative feature, but with his Wikipedia searches during the trip, my boyfriend filled me in on its history. The painting below brings alive its history, as a defence for Lisbon and a gateway to the city.Combat_du_Tage

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Look out for the next post with photographs from when we finally got some sunshine and headed up to the castle for the views of the city on our last morning.

 

A drizzly day in Lisbon

If you’ve read my post about our trip to Porto, you would know that the next stop on our trip was Lisbon! We got the train between the two cities and soon found ourselves in the hustle and bustle of Portugal’s capital.

Despite hoping for some crisp and bright winter days in Lisbon, and arriving in gorgeous sunshine, we were then treated to an endlessly drizzly day! But, undeterred by the soggy conditions, we explored the Alfama district of the city. It’s one of the oldest parts of Lisbon and was originally an area of extreme poverty outside the city walls. Now it is, as one guide puts it, a ‘fashionable artisan district”. We took the advice of the guides and left the map behind, keen to get lost in the maze of cobbled streets!

I like the atmosphere the weather gives my photos from this part of the trip, even if the conditions weren’t quite as pleasant for exploring the streets!

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I love this display of artificial flowers!

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There was a lot of graffiti in the Alfama District and I loved this one in particular! I wasn’t so keen on the graffiti telling tourists to go home, but it does seem to be a sensitive issue in the city. I’m not one to comment as I was a tourist myself, but if tourists start having a detrimental effect on the residents of the city or driving people out then it is understandable.

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It’s a fantastic area to explore, and we headed back at night to find some Fado! We had visited the Fado museum earlier that day but nothing beats sitting in a dark bar with a glass of port and the intensely emotional sound of voices and guitars filling the air. Despite not understanding a word, I was in the palm of their hands! And despite knowing it was a tourist trap (we’d been beckoned off the street with an English leaflet thrust into our hands), the music itself certainly felt authentic.

A couple more posts to come on Lisbon as there was so much to see, including the views from the castle on a much brighter day, and our trip to Belem (and yes, we did queue 45 minutes for a pastel de nata…)