Now that we’ve already established the fact this blogger is one of the uncoolest you’ll ever meet, it must also be let known the condition has spread to the rest of the family. For not only did the three of us thoroughly enjoy our holiday in southwestern Germany this summer, we’re thinking of looking for a place there to invest in for our later years. You know – retirement? That inevitable condition so far in the future you never really get around to thinking about it until it’s just around the corner?
You think Europe in the summer and you think hordes of tourists, right? I usually think of the travel agent sketch, actually:
… and there’s nowhere to sleep and the kids are crying and vomiting and breaking the plastic ash-trays and they keep telling you it’ll only be another hour although your plane is still in Iceland and has to take some Swedes to Yugoslavia before it can load you up at 3 a.m. in the bloody morning and you sit on the tarmac till six because of “unforeseen difficulties”, i.e. the permanent strike of Air Traffic Control in Paris – and nobody can go to the lavatory until you take off at 8, and when you get to Malaga airport everybody’s swallowing “enterovioform” tablets and queuing for the toilets and queuing for the armed customs officers, and queuing for the bloody bus that isn’t there to take you to the hotel that hasn’t yet been built. And when you finally get to the half-built Algerian ruin called the Hotel del Sol by paying half your holiday money to a licensed bandit in a taxi you find there’s no water in the pool, there’s no water in the taps, there’s no water in the bog and there’s only a bleeding lizard in the bidet.
Well thank God it wasn’t like that where we were. That’s because in contrast to many areas which are seeing a boom in the worst type of tourist traffic thanks to cheap flights, stag parties, horrendously gaudy theme parks and the usual beaches, the area south of Freiburg, Germany and north of Basel, Switzerland on the western edge of the Black Forest officially known as Markgräflerland has been doing a horrible job selling itself as the Tuscany of Germany.
The result is a refreshingly tourist-free area where you can hang out and enjoy the finer things in life without having to wait for a table, endure boorishly loud cellphone conversations, line up for tickets or listen to whatever happens to be playing on some twat’s boom box.
Drink wine? You’re surrounded by vineyards. Like to mountain bike? Trails everywhere. Road bike? Ditto. Swim, steam, sauna, spa? We had three places to choose from all within cycling distance. Dig archaeology? The Romans were all over the place and left it in ruins. If you have any energy left you can go hiking, canoeing, paragliding, horse-riding…
And friendly? Hell, even the teenage girls smiled and said hello to me on the street. That hasn’t happened since I was a teenage boy learning the horizontal pole vault.
And if you ever get sick of choosing what to do and just want to leave Germany for the day you can always pop over the border to France or Switzerland. Zurich, a city I could move to in a flash if only we had the jobs there to make it feasible, is only an hour away, and the under-rated Basel is even closer.
Over the next few days I hope to drop a post or two about what we got up to. It will forever cement our uncool reputation, but I don’t care. We loved it. Beaverboosh, take note.