As we left Lindau Germany, on the shore of Lake Constance, it began to rain. It rained all the way across the lake to Freidrichstaffen. The Alps, usually seen ringing the lake, were hidden in the mist and rain. Though we missed seeing the mountains we felt cozy looking out the large windows on the boat while the rain soaked the glass. Occasionally we would see a lone fishing boat with one or two huddled figures bobbing on the waves.
At Freidrichstaffen we boarded a bus and passed through the cliffs, trees and rocks of the Black Forest to Freiburg where we were met by our newly met friend, Anda.
We were so fortunate to have Anda’s guidance. She had located some unusual parts of Freiburg we not have known about otherwise.
Freiburg is known as the warmest and sunniest city in Germany. On our entire European trip it had rained only briefly in Assisi. We therefore had every reason to believe that our incredible record of good luck would continue. It rained almost every day while we were in Freiburg. Nevertheless we donned our rain gear and went out. Freiburg is a very walkable city with good bus and tram support.
There was an organ concert at the cathedral that Anda knew about so we had a chance to see this beautiful building and listen to the organ.
This cathedral, called the “Munster”, is incredibly beautiful inside and out. The atmosphere was powerful. We saw several cathedrals and churches in Europe but this one was the first large space I had entered which had managed to maintain a deep and sacred atmosphere. In most of the large cathedrals I noticed a lack of magnetism. The flow of people,in my opinion, tends to dissipate the the magnetism of most public spaces. This cathedral was different. It’s magnetism had been retained or perhaps it is simply replenished by worshippers. In addition, Anda showed us a small room off to the side that had an especially quiet and meditative atmosphere.
In WWII the cathedral was saved by what appears to be a miracle. In the war the old town section of Freiburg was heavily carpet bombed by the RAF. You can see in this war photo that the cathedral sustained only minor damage despite the almost total devastation around it. This certainly was not due to the accuracy of Allied bombing. WWII bombing from both sides tended to be very inaccurate.
Outside the cathedral in the old part of the city there are these
unusual water channels called the “Bachle” that carry river water through the town in a constant flow. This is not a sewage system but a fresh water system in use since the Middle Ages. I have read that these channels were originally used to water livestock and were a source of water for fighting fires. In the summer these are said to keep this part of the city cool. The water seems amazingly clean. Here is some more information: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freiburg_Bächle
Freiburg has both old and new elements to celebrate. Anda also took us to some new developments that are very eco friendly such as this building that has plants growing up the side to keep the interior cool. This also gives it a very green appearance.
Not far from this building is what we would call in the USA a “cooperative housing” or “co-housing development” . These are intentional communities where the people living there collectively manage all the requirements of living together like a small village. They are often planned within a set of principles that can be modified but often include things like setting aside open spaces and sharing common inside areas, or whole buildings. In these developments I have often seen cars relegated to certain areas so that the middle, shared space can function as a play area, garden, or landscaped for walking.
In this community there is really quite a lot of space set aside on the hill above. Here we saw grazing animals, a play area, and a teepee.
Anda had provided us with lots of brochures about Freiburg’s many museums and attractions. By walking around a lot we got a feel for how diverse and beautiful Freiburg. Our stay was way too short to even begin to appreciate the beauty and creativity of Freiburg. At one point we passed through an artist exhibition in the park.
It had been raining so there were not many visitors but this woman above had adapted her art piece to the weather. Her name is Gerhilt Haak. She is a terrific communicator. http://www.gerhilt-haak.de/en/index2.php From what I understood, she is a coach and mentor who seeks for ways to empower people, especially women.
Anda gave us an introduction to her beautiful city but the best part was spending time with our new friend. This included having tea, eating chocolate in her apartment, and sharing what was going on in our lives. These are the things I can’t write about in detail because they are private and because they would have no real importance to my readers – but were also the most important part of our visit. Sometimes not only is the map not the road but the idea that you are traveling on a road is an illusion. I am discovering that the real nature of travel is hidden in relationships. These relationships are usually passed by quickly but sometimes they penetrate and remain rooted for a lifetime. At the time you are not certain which will be which.