Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Schwarzwald Kind of Day

On Monday we had a whole day with no meetings or activities. I checked the interwebs for prices and distances and presented to the family a Schwarzwald visit -- also known as the Black Forest. None of us had been, and we wanted to go to the Vogtbauernhof open air museum where they've moved a bunch of Black Forest farmhouses together so that you can see how people have lived here for 100's of years.
It was a fairly long ride, and very windy and scenic at the end, and not so easy to find, but we had our GPS named Helga, in honor of the Isaaks, and we found it eventually.
We went first to the woodworking shop. Each kid got to pick out something to make.
Then Herr Lehmann helped them to get it done. Here he and Joss are drilling a hole into a helicoptery thing.
This man was a treasure. Starting off the visit with power tools meant that the kids were excited for the rest of the day, and they were all justifiably proud of their cuckoo whistles and magic puzzles.
He let them burn whatever they wanted into the wood to decorate it.
I'm really glad I didn't know that this was the traditional Schwarzwald headdress, because I would have dragged my feet coming if I had. These preposterous pompoms started out as painted circles; then became woolen balls; then the balls got bigger and bigger and became more codified: unmarried women could wear the red hats after confirmation; after marriage they had to stick with the black.
A Schwarzwalderin sells her cross stitched goods in one of the farmhouses.
The attics were often the kids' playrooms in the big farmhouses; called Rumpelzimmers.
This one had period toys and was another hit with the kids.
These two are called Black Forest Foxes because of their red coloring. They're named Max and Flicka. There were just a smattering of farm animals, but enough to keep Joss excited.
Joss becomes bashful when confronted with the object of his affection: a live cockaroody.
This is the Vogtbauernhof, the showpiece of the museum.
They did have enough cows that you could see how they were stabled in the various houses.
This is my nightmare job: cooking in an old, dark, dirty kitchen all day long. This woman did it pretty happily. I hope she has a white, modern kitchen at home. And that it's filled with take out menus.
Will tries to learn how to milk a cow. It was great practice, because nothing is going to kick you, but much harder than I thought it would be!
There was also a playground, and we let Joss and Sebastian play there while Rob, Maddie, Will and I took turns visiting some of the other houses. I had warned that people were going to get wet and sandy (because there was water and sand involved, and I've taken a McFarland or two to the playground . . .). When I returned from my visit, Joss was in a diaper and Sebastian was soaking wet. He spent the next hour saying "Mom knows the future" and walking gingerly in wet clothes. We decided to get some Black Forest cake.
And we ducked into a cafe just as this torrential downpour opened up on us!
Here it is, the Black Forest cake. When we asked where all of the cherry trees are, we were told by a native that it was invented outside of the area by a homesick cook from the Schwarzwald.
It was good, and we were so happy for a mid-afternoon snack! We went back to the car, and unbeknownst to the kids, I plotted a different route home.
We stopped in Alpirsbach because I knew the professor would want to see a rare three-aisled romanesque church.
I suppose as a tourist attraction it's rather subtle, but as a rest stop it was well-received.
Rob loved the church. It was attached to a monastery. And the monastery had a brewery. And the brewery had quite a smell to it which Sebastian found off-putting.
The kids lit candles for a couple of our students. One woman's father was in an accident with a fuel truck. Another one's fiancee was diagnosed with leukemia since we've been here.
Joss ran around the cloister repeatedly.
Original frescoes from the 12th century.
View of the church from the cloister

I was trying to get a picture of the Black Forest here, but there was always a clearing, so it never really looks as black and foreboding as it should. From above, the Schwarzwald looked pretty tame. But when you looked into it, you could see the fairy tales coming on.
We took one last stop in Freudenstadt
it claims to have the largest market square in Europe
I think it isn't really a market square if you have streets running through it and building in the middle. I will grant that it was a very pretty square. Then we turned our noses for home and called it a day.

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