Nestled between the Rhine and the Black Forest, Freiburg is officially Germany’s sunniest city. Offering cuckoo clocks, cobbled streets, roof top restaurants and pulsing techno bars, it’s a quirky blend of Hans Christian Anderson meets Kraftwerk. Throw in some succulent, fresh Trout and Black Forest Gateau and it’s also a mecca for foodie indulgence. Swapping my corporate suit for dashing dirndl, I set off in search of adventure.
Arriving into a furnace of 36 degrees, Freiburg certainly lived up to its sunny credentials. Trotting into town in a blaze of brilliant sunshine, we’re met with intriguing mini streams flowing through the streets. Based on a medieval system of open sewers, the Bachle now carries free-flowing water from the river in mini-streams across the town. Loved by dogs and toddlers, the gutters prove to be a Godsend in the soaring temperatures.
The Gothic spires of Freiburg Munster dominate the town’s central square. If you can tear yourself away from the Bratwurst stall just adjacent to the entrance, a visit is highly recommended. The stained glass windows dazzle in rainbow prisms against the church’s cavernous interior. Feeling athletic, we ascend the tortuous, winding staircase up to the cathedral’s bell tower (2 Euro fee).
While the views are partially obscured by scaffolding, there are still breath-taking glimpses of the square down below. The strains of classical music from earth-bound buskers complete the feeling of peace and harmony as I gaze over the rooftops.
Having conquered the turrets, it’s time for an iced coffee and a generous slab of the region’s Black Forest Gateau. Having only sampled the frozen form courtesy of Iceland, I was somewhat dubious of the challenge ahead. Filled with cherries and a generous dose of Kirsch, the velvety light sponge melts in the mouth in a gluttonous orgy of pleasure. And to wash it down? What else but a German iced coffee – an avalanche of cream, nestled on a ball of ice cream with a splash of coffee on the side.
The indulgence continues at Freiburg’s coolest roof top bar/restaurant, Skajo, situated above H&M on Kaiser Joseph Strasse. Sipping pre-dinner cocktails, the bar’s subdued lighting imitates the gloriously changing hues of the sky – from rosy red to pale blue as the sun slips down over the cathedral. Gazing down across the roof tops, there’s a distinctly Café del Mar vibe as we marinate in the evening’s warmth.
As a thriving University town since the 15th century, Freiburg attracts 22,000 students, giving the town a young and trendy vibe. The rooftop bar is just one of a range of bars and night clubs which pulsate across the city streets. But oddly, it’s the perching potential of Wiwilbruckle Cycle Bridge and Walkway that attracts droves of young people, precariously dangling above the racing cars and trains below.
Feeling peckish, we head for dinner at Englers Weinkrugle. A cosy and traditional Bavarian eaterie in the vine-clad Konvikstrasse. Little English is spoken here and the chef is dragged out to make sense of my GCSE German.
Finally, I opt for the Black Forest smoked sausages with a side portion of Rosti potatoes, washed down with a smooth-bodied 2014 Reisling. I do love hearty, German fare and it’s just as well this trip’s only a long weekend otherwise I’d be rolling home in the shape of a Bratwurst. If bangers aren’t your thing, the restaurant also specialises in trout, plucked fresh from Freiburg’s Dreisam river.
If you feel like exploring, Freiburg benefits from a ruthlessly efficient train service that hurtles you across hiking trails in Bavaria through to well-trodden tourist hot-spots such as Strasbourg, Colmar and Basle. And for a fraction of the cost of a weekly tube pass.
All too soon our long weekend’s over and we’re hurtling back on the train to Basle. This was my first trip to Germany and I’m sure it won’t be my last. I just need to remember to bring elasticated Lederhosen next time.