Month: October 2021

A Trip to Freiburg im Breisgau

We have been so lucky to get to travel this past summer! Another short trip that I haven’t documented yet was to Freiburg im Breisgau on the edge of the Black Forest. It’s only a couple hours from Munich on the train, so we headed there one Friday evening back in July.

On the train to Freiburg

Along the way we passed through Ulm and got a glimpse in the distance of Ulm Minster, currently the tallest church in the world. (It’ll be overtaken by the Sagrada Família in Barcelona someday if they ever finish it.)

Ulm Minster

It was a very pretty train trip, and the sun was setting as we arrived in Freiburg…


We checked in to our hotel and eventually met up with our friend Scott, who drove down from Düsseldorf.

Snookums and Scott

On Saturday, we ventured out for breakfast. Freiburg is a very beautiful city, and it has a really interesting system of gutters called “Bächle“. (The word comes from “Bach,” which means “brook.”) These are fed by a nearby river and run all along the edges of the streets in the pedestrian area of the old town. There’s a legend that if you accidentally fall in one of the Bächle, you’ll end up marrying a Freiburger!

Snookums over a Bächle

The cafe where we had breakfast was actually called Bächle and it was, of course, right alongside one of them.

Our first destination was the Münsterplatz (Cathedral Square) around Freiburg Münster. As it was early Saturday, there was a market happening all around it. We checked out the architecture of the cathedral and watched the locals go about their shopping. (The Snook would like to draw your attention to the gargoyle in the upper-left of the 4th photo, where the rainwater comes out of a statue’s bum!)

We continued to wander the old town…

The old town in Freiburg

Even the manhole covers were pretty!

Freiburg manhole cover

There are also canals that come off the river and feed into the Bächle. In one of them is a famous stone statue of a crocodile.

Freiburg is in a famous wine-growing region, and near the city museum was a public garden that had lots of different grape varieties and flowers.

At lunchtime we piled into Scott’s car and headed towards Schauinsland, a nearby mountain in the Black Forest. The name literally means “look-into-the-country,” and to get to the top of it we took the Schauinslandbahn, Germany’s longest cable car (3.6 kilometres / 2.2 mi).


The journey takes about 15 minutes, and the view kept getting more amazing the higher we went.

Scott on the Schauinslandbahn


For the last part of the trip, I set my iPhone up on the window and made a time-lapse video. (You can also see it in better quality on Instagram.)

The trip was well worth the view!


Us on Schauinsland

We had lunch at the restaurant on top of the mountain and then headed out for a hike. It turns out that silver, lead, and zinc were mined from the mountain for hundreds of years, and there were miles of mining tunnels beneath us. This tunnel was near the mining museum, and I believe if you go on a tour you may also get to go inside.

Mining tunnel

The boys quickly realised that the hike I was taking them on as a little more strenuous than they anticipated! We clambered up and down rocky paths around the top of the mountain for the better part of an hour.

Hiking path

One landmark on the mountain is the Engländerdenkmal (Englishmen’s Memorial). Basically, in 1936 a bunch of British schoolboys and their group leader went on an ill-advised hike over the mountain when a blizzard hit. Despite the efforts of the townspeople to save them, several of the boys died from exposure. A few years later a memorial was set up. It’s  a fascinating and tragic story


It was a pretty spot. I took a photo of the view from the wall.

View from the Denkmal

We continued our hike. The Snook was, as ever, concerned that he would get a tick bite. (Ticks love him.) (He didn’t.)

On the hike

We kept hearing bells all around us on the mountain, a constant soundtrack. What’s with the bells? Then we figured it out. 🐄

We also found a sculpture path on the mountain (“Pfad der Sinne” – “Path of the Senses”) that had some really cool carved wood sculptures. You can see some of them online. This one was called “Der Geist des Waldes” (“The spirit of the forest”).

The Spirit of the Forest

We eventually returned to the Schauinslandbahn and rode it back down to the bottom, then headed back to Freiburg. We had a dinner reservation at local restaurant called Gasthaus Zur Linde that was recommended in the Michelin Guide. It was very nice, and we sampled quite a few local wines as well.

Dinner at Gasthaus zur Linde

Breakfast on Sunday was at Sam’s Cafe in Freiburg, and I went with the traditional “Freiburger Frühstück.”

Freiburger Frühstück

After our hike the day before, we felt like we deserved some pampering. So we got back into Scott’s car and headed for the nearby Keidel Thermal Baths. This large spa area had many heated indoor and outdoor thermal pools, and we spent a few hours swimming and floating and chatting in the sun. (No photos as I locked my phone up in the changing room!) As we were leaving, we noticed a sign pointing downstairs to an area where you can actually see the mineral hot spring that supplies the water.

Hot spring

We went for a final wander through Freiburg to check out the Bächle once more. It was a warm day, so there were often kids splashing or walking in it. I also saw several with little boats on a string that you could pull alongside you as you walked. (I’m still kicking myself I didn’t get one at the market as a souvenir!)


More Bächle…


We had just enough time for a late lunch and round of beers at the Hausbrauerei Feierling Biergarten before we had to head to our train and Scott had to start back to Düsseldorf.

Feierling Biergarten

Lovely little excursion to yet another beautiful German town! ❤️

Summer Cycling Update

It’s been a really long time since I updated you on my cycling! I didn’t rack up quite as many kilometers this summer as I’d hoped, mostly because we were travelling whenever we could and the weather was pretty rainy. I’m not far off the pace that I need for my yearlong 1000km goal, but I doubt I’ll get there given that it’s getting cold and we have more travel planned.

Strava Progress - 745/1000 km

I thought I’d share a few of the more notable long rides I’ve done. One back in May was to Messestadt Riem.

My destination was about 15km across Munich. I found a route on Komoot and headed off, with the Snook following on the train. One landmark on the way there was St. Michael’s church in Berg am Laim. I was sweaty so I didn’t go inside, but it was very pretty. For the route, I avoided the main roads and mostly went through residential areas and parks.

Messestadt Riem (literally “Convention City Riem”) is one of Munich’s newest suburbs and was built on the grounds of an old airport. It has a big convention center, of course, as well as a large park with a man-made lake. The Snook had brought us a picnic lunch, so we walked through the park and found a spot to enjoy our sandwiches. Lots of folks were out and about.


We walked around the lake and the “beach,” then climbed the “Hügel” (hill) to check out the view. It was surreal to see a lake with folks playing beach volleyball, with snow-capped mountains on the horizon!

I parted with the Snook at the train station and climbed back onboard my bike for the ride home. I went by the more direct route, using the bike path alongside the road.

So all up, that ride was about 30km / 18.5 miles!

In June I did an even longer one of about 35km, heading north along the Isar river and into the far part of the Englischer Garten that I’d never visited before.

It was a warm and sunny day but the clouds were moving in rapidly. (Yes, I wore sunscreen!) This was one of the canals that splits off as the Isar moves north out of the city.

Crossing the Isar

Here’s the river properly, far up near the suburb of Ismaning. I had reached my turnaround point and started heading back when I noticed this rocky little beach and stopped for a rest. There was a large group having a barbecue. That box in the river is actually their cooler filled with drinks! Müncheners love swimming and playing in the Isar.

Party in the Isar

I rode up the east side of the river as I headed out, but for the return journey I crossed over one the bridges so I could head back on the west side.

Crossing over again

Whenever I’m doing these really long rides, I’ve started bringing snacks along so I can refuel at the halfway point. I found a nice little bench and stepped aside for some peanuts, dried fruit, and one of my last Aussie snacks… ❤️

Snack time

Unbeknownst to me, the weather was about to take a turn. A sudden downpour of very cold rain had me huddling under a tree, waiting for it to pass…

Ew, rain!

Fortunately it passed quickly and I was able to finish the ride. The Snook met me at the biergarten so I could celebrate my longest ride yet!

The reward - beer!

A month later I broke my record again, this time on a ride to the southwest through Forstenrieder Park all the way to the village of Buchendorf and back. This was a beautiful ride that I really enjoyed… but it ended in TRAUMA! (More about that in a minute.)

As you can see, I was really excited to head off. I had recently invested in some proper cycling shorts with extra butt padding, so I was feeling pretty confident about this ride.

Cycling update

Part of my planned path was along the Würm River, a small tributary of the Amper that eventually ends in the Danube. It flows through a few small villages, which were all very pretty. These photos were near Gräfelfing.

The route I had was from Komoot again, and it was mostly on paved and gravel bike paths. It’s so gorgeous here. People are always like, why did you move from Australia to Germany? JUST LOOK AT THAT! So much green! I just can’t get enough of it.


Feeling good

Eventually I popped out of the forest and found myself in cornfields! It was so surreal. Almost felt like Indiana!


I crossed the Würm again at the village of Gauting and saw this historic water wheel (aka Wasserrad) that used to power a local papermill.

Water wheel

This was after I’d passed through Buchendorf, the village that marked the middle-point of the ride. I found myself riding through gentle rolling fields under an amazing blue sky.

Wide open skies

As you can see, I was getting a bit sweaty and tired. I was also feeling some soreness in my bum, despite all the padding in my new shorts. I was starting to suspect that the big cushy seat on the Swapfiets bike wasn’t actually doing me any favours…


I found a bench in Forstenrieder Park to eat my snack and have a rest.

Snack time

I made the rest of the trip home without incident, and I was feeling pretty proud at having managed such a long ride. NOW WE COME TO THE TRAUMA. Later that night, showered and fed, I was sitting on the sofa in a pair of shorts when the Snook looked at me and said, “Is your leg bleeding?!” Folks, I had a big bruised wound high up on my thigh that had actually burst somehow without me noticing it. It was basically a boil or a saddle sore that had formed from rubbing against the bike seat. We cleaned it up, put on an antiseptic, and bandaged it up. I also took a photo so I could show my doctor the next day via a tele-appointment. “Yeah, you’re fine,” he said. (These German doctors!) So yeah, my first saddle sore. Not fun!

That was basically the impetus I needed to finally buy a new bike. By August, I had found one on Ebay and paid €250 for it. It’s a hybrid (meaning a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike) from local Munich cyclery 2rad.

My bike

It’s a couple years old, so I’ve made some upgrades and modifications since I got it. It originally came with a basket on the back but I took it off since I don’t really use it much. I took it into 2rad for a check-up, and they ended up replacing the brake pads for me and one of the chain links. One of the tire tubes had a leak, so Rodd and I managed to put in a new one. I also bought a new pair of handle grips to replace the old foam ones, and I got a hand-pump that I mounted on the frame. (I carry a patch kit and tire levers in my hydration pack, but I’m thinking of getting a little saddle bag.) It’s so much lighter than the Swapfiets bike! It’s also got more gears (27!) and consequently I’m finding it a lot easier to get up hills. And most importantly, the new seat is narrower and so far I’m finding it a lot more comfortable for long rides.

The first long ride I took her on was – where else? – along the Isar through the Englischer Garten.

Thankfully the flooding we saw earlier in the summer had mostly dissipated by September and the Isar was back to its normal size.


I couldn’t resist swinging by the Eisbachwelle to see if there were many surfers there. Yeah, there were a lot!


There were also plenty of folks taking advantage of the beautiful weather at the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) biergarten.

Chinese Tower

Every time I ride through the English Garten, I see something new. This time it was a field of sunflowers waving at me across a fence, and an old hydro power station across the river.

Snack time! You can also see in the background here the last bike-related purchase I made – a helmet. They aren’t required here, but I’m trying to get into the habit of wearing, especially for my long rides. I got a plain white Skullcap helmet and I’ve been having some fun decorating it with stickers.

Snack time

My return trip took me back through the city, and I was happy to see a concert and arts festival happening in the Odeonsplatz. The “net” hanging above is actually an artwork by Janet Echelmann, and it looks incredibly beautiful lit up at night.


As I was waiting at a red light near home, I heard a loud jingling noise. To my delight, all traffic stopped as the Augustiner Bräu bierwagen drove past, pulled by a team of horses and carrying a couple beardy Bavarians in lederhosen. Official Oktoberfest may have been cancelled, but Müncheners still celebrated where they could!


The last long ride I did was just last weekend, a giant loop that took me on a greatest hits tour of Munich…

The first stop was Nymphenburg Palace, which we visited last year. My route took me across the bridge that crosses the Nymphenburger Kanal. I stopped midway to look back towards the palace. That’s it way off in the distance in that first photo. The other is looking in the opposite direction, down the canal…

There’s also an even smaller offshoot of the canal called the Biedersteiner, and I rode along that for a bit.

Biedersteiner Kanal

My next stop was Olympiapark, site of the Munich Olympics. Honestly, the juxtaposition of the green grass and the blue sky was so stunning I had to stop and take this photo. (Note to self: go back there in the winter and sled down that hill!)

Olympia Park

There were lots of folks enjoying the day, boating on the little lake, and hiking the hills.


Eventually I headed home via the Englischer Garten and the Isar, and I finished at the Altstadt. It’s a pedestrian area so I had to walk my bike through the Marienplatz. It was looking very pretty, with baskets of flowers in Autumn colours all along the front.


I think that pretty much brings you up to date! Here’s a view of my Heat Map of where I’ve ridden in Munich. The really bright areas are from my shorter trips to the office or through the local parks, but all those little red tendrils are from my longer rides. Pretty neat! If you’re on Strava, you can follow me there and see if I managed to make my 1000km goal after all…

Cycling Heat Map