One of the cruise ports during my Viking Rhine River cruise was to visit the Black Forest in Germany. This was the selling point and #1 destination for many of the guests onboard our boat. The passengers boarded our private motor coach to drive to the Baden-Wüttemberg region where an enchanted wood forest with a fairy tale setting awaited our arrival.
The drive was long and windy plus it rained most of the day. Driving through charming valleys and villages that appear to be right out of a Grimms Brothers’ fairytale broke the monotony. The renowned landscapes are complete with rolling meadows and dense forests, with various parts being more the color of black than typical shades of green.
We arrived at Hofgut Sternen had many souvenir shops to choose from as well as wood-carving and glass-blowing demonstrations. Artisans were in the process of making ornate cuckoo clocks, and in one of the restaurants, we were treated to a cooking demonstration and sampling of traditional Black Forest cake. Yum! Other offerings at the restaurant included local favorites such as Bauernbratwurst, Brägele (specialty potatoes), and Bibbileskäse (curd with chives and onion).
The air smelled of pine and the terrain was a middle shade of black. The Black Forest was a visual appetizer for the senses. The entire landscape was clustered with trees: beech, oak, spruce, and pine. The name “Black Forest” actually describes the dark pine and fir trees that cover the mountainous region in Germany. Many fairy tales originated in here in Germany’s Black Forest.
Our tour guides were decked out in the traditional headwear and clothing, such as the Bollenhut, the hat with the bright red pompoms. This traditional hat is only worn by women in Gutach, Horberg-Reichenbach, and Wolfach-Kirnbach at special occasions. Once a lady is married, the pompoms worn are black in color rather than red.
Our group enjoyed a fun day exploring the beautiful scenery and impressive handicrafts but it was back to the boat soon. My favorite memory of the Black Forest was the giant cuckoo clock at the entraince with its hand painted characters “performing” on the hour to the whimsical musical.
Tip: A Black Forest cuckoo clock is the perfect gift to take home from this region.