German Word of the Day:
n., masc.; cathedral
Spring break has come and gone in Germany! I’m really lucky to be living in a host family that loves to go on road trips, and I’ve seen so much of this beautiful country this year. This time around, we focused on the southwestern corner of Germany, visiting the Black Forest, the cities of Freiburg, Stuttgart, and Cologne, and a bit of eastern France (plus a lot of places in between!).
The Black Forest
First, we headed south to the Black Forest – a large mountainous and forested region in southwest Germany (der Schwarzwald, in German). I was blown away by how gorgeous this region was – the mountains and dark evergreen forests are quite a contrast from northern Germany’s flat farm fields and beech woods! While the forest is not black so much as brown and green, some of the fir and spruce stands are so thick that it’s perpetually dark underneath, giving the forest its name.
From the Black Forest, France’s borders are just a couple of hours away. As we slowly made our way north again, we visited the French cities of Colmar, Strasbourg and Nancy.
Colmar was a sweet, albeit extremely touristy, village in the region of Alsace. It was decked out for Easter when I arrived, and the streets were filled with vendors selling soap, jewelry, and leather goods, and in the squares there were rabbit hutches and chicken coops to celebrate spring. That pizza-ish thing on the right is an Alsatian “tarte flambeé”, and is pretty much unlike pizza served anywhere else in Europe.
Our last stop in France was the city of Nancy. Nancy has a beautiful palace, square and cathedral in the centreville, but otherwise, I found it pretty disappointing. Except for those three attractions, the city seemed run-down. We walked past dozens of shuttered shops and crumbling buildings searching for a single open café or bookstore, but the city was eerily lifeless.
The Cathedrals of Southern Germany (and France)
We visited a lot of cities, big and small, during our two weeks on the road. In every one, we found our way to the local cathedral, or Dom. I’ve lost count of all the amazing churches I’ve visited this year, and I love stepping into each ancient cathedral – many built in the same gothic style, but all unique and all beautiful.
My favorite part of visiting these churches soon became searching for the pipe organs. These old cathedrals have the largest and most beautiful musical intruments I have ever laid eyes on.
While it would be a dream to get to play one of these instruments, it would sure take a lot of guts to sit in one of them – suspended several dozen feet in the air!
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