One of the things I enjoy most about traveling is how often I am exposed to traditions that are different from my own. So often I find that there is more to a culture than what we see on the surface or read in books. This helps me walk away with a better understanding of and deeper appreciation for other places and people.
Take Germany, for example. While I love visiting the country’s larger cities for their cosmopolitan flair and energy, I adored a recent excursion into the Black Forest for the way it immersed me in the traditions and culture that make this country so beautiful. The Black Forest is about a three-hour drive from Frankfurt. There are trains to get there, but driving provides a more convenient and direct route. It also allows for stops along the way; a good strategy as there are plenty of scenic views.
Here are some of the cultural highlights exclusive to the area.
The origin of the cuckoo clock
The cuckoo clock was born around the 18th century in Germany’s Black Forest. Though there are more contemporary designs, the carved traditional clocks remain popular and are coveted around the world.
Rombach clocks date back to 1894 and are best known throughout the world as the Black Forest Clocks. The clocks are celebrated for their attention to detail. This family owned business is small enough to allow visitors to meet and connect with the owners and artists personally.
Meat and more meat
Black Forest ham is exclusive to this region, but there are many other meat and sausage options to enjoy with every meal.
Schwarzwälderkirschtorte, or Black Forest Cake, is a must. It consists of black sponge cake, cherry filling, and schnapps-infused whipped cream frosting. The original stuff is not as sweet as its imitators, but it is delicious!
A walk through time
Visit Junghans, in Schramberg, and step back to a time more than 150 years ago when Junghans operated the largest watches and clocks factory in the world. On a tour, learn about the history and craft, and get the scoop on the factory’s transformation into a museum.
The Junghans museum also is known as the ErfinderZeiten, and it shows how the area transformed itself from a watch hotspot to a hotbed for the vehicle industry. The display of cars from the postwar period is a fun way to learn about the shift in economic demand and progress for the area.
Meet a glassblower
The Dorotheenhütte, in Wolfach, is the only glassworks in the Black Forest where mouth-blown glass is produced. The facility has a beautiful glass museum and Christmas village, and artisans allow visitors the opportunity to blow their own vases!
The little farm that could
Reinertonishof is a family-owned farmhouse built in 1616. After a fire in 2006, the farmhouse was rebuilt using the original building plans, bringing back to life the many historic elements and details. Today, the farmer’s wife usually is the one to greet you with a smile.
Carol Cain is a travel and food blogger who enjoys sharing her adventures, with or without her beautiful family in tow, in the hopes of inspiring others. Originally from Brooklyn, Carol has studied and lived abroad, experiences that have nourished her wanderlust. Her travel stories have appeared in both print and online publications, as well as via broadcast outlets where she has appeared for both Spanish and English media, including Telemundo, CBS, NBC, and ABC. Stop by on Twitter and say hello!