Places I Want To Go: Black Forest, Germany

Maybe it's my extreme case of wanderlust lately, but I've been thinking a lot about this terrifically diverse and expansive world we live in, and how many places I've yet to see...places I've read about in travel magazines or heard about on Rick Steves' podcast or from others who've visited there. Since I don't have the luxury of traveling much right now, I decided to add a little series to my blog: "Places I Want To Go," so you can read along and travel with me to these places I hope to visit in my lifetime. We'll find out what is uniquely special about each place and how it goes along with my theme, dreams of simple life. And one day, I'll hopefully write about each of them from personal experience!

So I invite you to come along with me to my first location...the Black Forest of Germany.

I talk a lot about my Italian heritage, but what I haven't shared much about is my other half, my mother's side of the family, which is English and German. My grandmother's family is from the Black Forest region of Germany. Besides having wonderful cherry cake, I've heard this area of Europe is pristine and unspoiled with multitudes of adorable cottages and castles amidst towering evergreens, mild summer temperatures and chilly, snowy winters. Yes, please.

Why is it called the 'Black' Forest (or in German, 'Schwarzwald')? From a distance, the large concentration of pine trees actually looks black. The nearby mountains also cast their shadows over the valleys and make it appear darker. However, there is nothing dark about it. The town at the center of the Black Forest, Freudenstadt, claims to actually receive more hours of sunshine than any other town in the nation! Here's Freudenstadt...

When I think of visiting the Black Forest, I picture a cold, snowy winter (how winter is supposed to be). I dream of preparing for Christmas by putting up a real fir tree in a cozy living room. Going for hikes in the forest just out the back door wearing mittens and a warm coat and boots. Drinking hot tea or coffee in a warm cottage kitchen by a hearth with hearty soup cooking on the stove.

I wonder what it was like for my great-grandmother in her humble home? Did she like to always have a kettle going in the fall and winter, like me? Did she enjoy a cool summer by walking outside barefoot or perhaps sitting under a tree to read a book? Most likely, yes. In the Black Forest, summer temperatures are in the 60s and 70s, and in the winter, 20s and 30s! How could you not love this place?

I also discovered that the Black Forest is known for something else: the traditional cuckoo-clock! Growing up, we had a cuckoo-clock in the living room that I was fascinated with, but I never realized that its creation had a personal history for me. Apparently there, you can visit cuckoo-clock factories and see this age-old German craft in action!

But the enchantment of the Black Forest doesn't end there...

"The forest itself is an area of heavily wooded mountains and verdant valleys. If you love nature, you will absolutely adore the Black Forest in Germany. The land and villages look relatively unchanged, as if you've stepped back in time, and when you walk through the forest, you can get an insight into what ancient Germany might have been like. Some of the houses you'll find in the villages are over three hundred years old. In addition, the Black Forest possesses a rich mythological tradition, where werewolves and witches haunt the darkness, so watch out. Fortunately, there are dwarves that live within the woods who like to help people."

There you have it. Not only perfect weather, but also dwarves.

And finally, there's Lake

Let's go for Christmas one year, OK? And then we'll return in spring to frolic in the grass and see everything bloom a luscious green. Yes, I'd like to explore my German heritage more, and the Black Forest is the perfect place to begin.