Thursday, August 20, 2015

Loving Southern Germany 2: the Landscape

In his book 111 Gründe, Schwaben zu lieben (111 Reasons to Love Swabians), Jo Müller includes a section of chapters entitled "Living where others vacation." A recent article in our local newspaper backs up that sentiment with facts from the department of tourism. 2.1 million foreign visitors came to Baden-Württemberg in the first half of this year - which is 9.4% more than in the same time frame last year. Every 4th foreign visitor is Swiss; vacationing in southern Germany is significantly less expensive than in Switzerland. Although there was a decline in the number of visitors from Russia, the greatest increase was 62% in visitors from China (77,000). The article says Baden-Württemberg is well on track for its 6th consecutive record year for visitors, whether tourists or business travelers.

Even residents living in other parts of Germany consider Baden-Württemberg a worthy travel destination - 7.2 million "Inländer" made up the lion's share of visitors to the state in the first six months of this year.

My second reason for loving living in southern Germany is mentioned at the beginning of the article as well as described beautifully in Müller's book - the landscape. Within two hours' drive we have the Schwarzwald (Black Forest), the Bodensee (Lake Constance), the Schwäbische Alb (Swabian jura), the Allgäu, lovely waterfalls including the tallest one in Germany, the Neckar Valley, the Danube River, and oodles of vineyards.

Bodensee / Lake Constance
Forest walk near Esslingen

die Schwäbische Alb / Swabian Jura
View from Herrenberg

Horb and Neckar Valley

On the Lotharpfad in the Black Forest
Lothar was a hurricane-like storm that swept through
France and southern Germany in 1999.
Schwarzwald / Black Forest
Titisee in the Black Forest
Wasserfall im Schwarzwald / Waterfall in the Black Forest

Nagoldtalsperre / Nagold Valley Reservoir

Ulm and the Danube River

vineyards and a Swabian village

vineyards in early October

fields of Raps / Rapeseed

When you look down on the landscape of Baden-Württemberg from the air as you're landing in or taking off from the Stuttgart airport, you see lots of nature - both wild and farmland - dotted with villages. During the Middle Ages people lived together in villages surrounded by protective town walls, and they went out into the fields and forest to farm, hunt, and gather wild fruits and herbs. To this day you see this rather than farm houses out near the fields. Farmers still live in the villages and drive their tractors out to work in their fields, often to the dismay of the drivers stuck behind them on narrow windy roads. The cities and towns tend to feel crowded and the population is dense, but the countryside and space between villages is left largely to plants and animals, both wild and domestic.

There are walking and bicycle paths and farm roads all over that we can use without being accused of trespassing. I could leave home on foot and choose a different route to walk every day for a month before I would be repeating any one. Within ten minutes I am out of town and usually don't cross paths with more than 3 or 4 people on a 90-minute stroll.

When I travel by train I am commonly the only person looking out the windows at this beautiful area while most have their faces buried in their smart phones. They've probably lived here too long to feel the "WOW effect" I feel when gazing at the landscape. I just can't get enough, and every season brings new beauty.

I should mention the following to avoid confusion:

Baden-Württemberg is the state in which we live.
Swabia is a region of that state and a bit of the neighboring state, Bavaria.
Southern Germany to me encompases the states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.

Despite using the term "Southern Germany" in the title, I admit most of what I'll write about in this series will be in Swabia (the Schwabenland or Ländle). I know I will sometimes venture out of the Ländle, though let's say I'll stay mainly below the 49th parallel (draw a line between Karlsruhe in B-W and Regensburg in Bavaria; that's roughly the 49th parallel).

Loving Southern Germany 1: Beautiful Towns
Loving Southern Germany 3: The Food

No comments:

Post a Comment