21.4.14

20.04.2014

I did one of the “must dos” in Freiburg today – as the number of days I have left here dwindles. We took the cable car up into the Hochschwarzwald (High Black Forest), and walked back down.

The cable car is a small thing that takes you up a damned long way past the trees with new, light green leaves. It’s Spring here and the apocalyptic, naked branches are becoming harder and harder to find. The leaves have taken their grey-green tint off the sides of some hills.

At the top, on a clear day, you can see the Swiss Alps. Today, though, we had a bit of mist, and the view wasn’t as extensive as the map suggested it was going to be.

(On the subject of the map: There was the German edition and the English edition. The German edition featured quite a decent map of walks you could take back down from the top, with different gradients and time required. The English one featured a fairly pathetic map and tourism-inclined advertisements, suggesting one should head on to the Badische wine centre for a tasting afternoon. I found this a bit funny – that tourists who speak English obviously won’t like long, scenic walks, while the Germans do.)

The walk was very nice. Slow. Not rushed. Lots of stoping to look at the flowers, eating the flowers, smelling the flowers, identifying the flowers.

The down hill walk tired my legs and has made my feet a bit sore. But it was definitely worth seeing the Black Forest in Spring.

 

PARIS – WAS I TOO HARSH?

In this age of interconnectivity, I’ve already received some whispers on the Bush Telegraph – yes! now with coverage in Germany! – that perhaps I was a little harsh on Paris in my post: 14-18.04.2014. I’ll give it another go, therefore, at explaining what I think:

It’s a city that is approached with a dash of total ignorance and arrogance and preconceived idea of beauty. The most beautiful parts of Paris I saw were the grottiest bits - with light spewing out onto littered streets; of human activity in slimy Metro stations; of a living and working city. There’s beauty in grotty curtains and signs that are missing letters; in shabby restaurants, and scrawled names in hidden, dusty alcoves.

A massive brown aerial, an arch of triumph, some swish shops, famous pictures and constant turnover in trivial souvenirs sold on the pretence of the cliché does not, in and of itself, make for this “amazing” and “beautiful” city of which everyone speaks. This doesn’t take into account the people moving about, crossing the Seine, books being sold and bought and sold again, little businesses that have carried on without fuss, Metro trains running in graffiti-strewn tunnels, made political.

Paris is a city that you must open your eyes in and refuse to allow them to be shut, then you’ll see its magic. This is not a magic readily available to whistle stop tours and buses driving in and out – it’s a little bit deeper than that. It’s not so superficial, but can be overlooked as being so.

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