Schwarzwald and Colmar (December 21, 2019)

Situated among rolling vineyards between the Rhine River and the Black Forest sits the river port town of Breisach. We tied up to the dock in the wee hours of the morning. Greeting me when I opened the curtain a few hours later were half a dozen large white swans, no doubt looking for treats (which I later swiped off the breakfast buffet).

Our wakeup was at 7:00 followed by a lovely breakfast buffet and a race for the 8:30 bus headed to the fir forests of Schwarzwald (the Black Forest) in the southwest corner of Germany. The day was gray and misty which seemed somehow fitting for our destination: the land of Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, Black Forest ham, and accordion music. We drove through quaint, impeccably clean villages and passed small farms, thatched roofs, grazing horses, vineyards on hills so steep they have to be hand harvested, and egrets and buzzards feasting in the plowed fields. The trees were bare but the rolling pastures were a beautiful green. We drove passed tiny patches of snow and saw some on the distant mountain tops but nothing to brag about. One small waterfall, creek, and spring after the next fed into a meandering stream near the water’s edge. The drive was beautiful and the commentary from the guide good.

We had one stop on our outing: Hofgut Sternen. This mock Black Forest village is comprised of a few traditional buildings where we were on our own to enjoy a Black Forest cake assembly demonstration, cuckoo clock presentation, and a glass works demonstration. All were enjoyable.

We were back on the ship for lunch. Once our bellies were full again, we decided to ask the concierge to arrange a cab for the four of us, so we could check out the Christmas market in Colmar, France. Lucky me, I was seated in the front in case I had to use my rusty French, and the three musketeers where crammed in the back. The driver spoke wonderful English, so I rode in comfort and enjoyed the company of the driver whose plan it is to one day spend at least a month with her husband in the U.S. She gave us some hot tips on which direction to walk, what foods to snack on, and a couple of sights not to miss. She even offered to come back to pick us up.

Walter and Cleone had heard that the medieval lanes and squares of Colmar were cute and picturesque, but we were not prepared for How cute and picturesque. We were under its spell from the moment we walked across the bridge and saw our first centuries-old pastel-colored half timber homes at the water’s edge. The town, seemingly intent on pleasing the crowd, had gone all out decorating. Entire building facades had Christmas displays; some roofs featured large decorations; special candies and baked good were being sold; a large animated nativity scene nestled in straw was impressive; and hot wines were on offer to wash down the food in all the cute market stalls. We took it all in (to include a picture with Santa) and had a delightful couple of hours. As promised, our cab was at the meeting point for the ride back to the ship.

A quick shower and change and we were ready for our evening orientation, dinner, and Christmas concert by a local choral group. Bed was a welcome sight after a fun day on our feet.

… Black Forest …

A recipe for Black Forest cake was first published in 1929.

The Romans gave the area its name.

Primitive forerunners of the cuckoo clock can be traced to the mid-17th century
when residents of the area brought in extra income by crafting and selling clocks
they made during the winter months.
By 1808 there were 582 clock peddlers and 688 clockmakers in the area!


Breisach boasts Europe’s largest wine cellars. They have a capacity of 160 million liters.

Eighty-five percent of Breisach was destroyed by Allied bombs
in the last days of World War II.
After the war the town was meticulously rebuilt in the old style.


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