June 7, 2010 – Every year I try to get together with my mom for a week somewhere. This year we met up in Lindau, in Southern Germany, and explored a few places in the region. It was a quick trip, the week was cut short by the day and a half I was stuck transiting through Paris (damn volcanic cloud). So it ended up being a bit of a rushed trip and we didn’t quite explore as much as we would have wanted. Anyway, here is a quick summary of places covered over 5 days:
Lindau – a pretty little town surrounded by some beautiful geography. The mountains seem to change constantly depending on the light and clouds, the lake is beautiful. The town has some pretty old buildings and is an interesting place to walk around. Attracts many elderly tourists, it’s a relaxing kind of place. Lindau was my favorite place on this holiday.
Sigmaringen – well, not much to this town (situated on the Danube) other than the castle. Suprisingly devoid of any traces of history as most of the buildings in this town look like they were build in the 1970s or 80s. Visited the castle, took a walk along the river. Saw some interesting looking birds. A few hours of sun, then the shitty weather started and basically didn’t let up the rest of the week.
Freiburg – a university city in the Black forest which is quite popular with tourists. Surrounded by hills. It also has a small river cutting through the city, so there are some nice green spaces. They’ve done a good job preserving the façade of historical buildings around a modern core (isn’t it great when you see a historical building, then, upon closer inspection, realize that it’s a McDonalds?). The Münster (church) is the highlight of the city and I climbed to the top. The views are supposed to be fabulous but they weren’t anything special on this day because of the crappy weather. Wet, cold, and just plain shitty.
Anyway, my mom and I agreed that it would probably be a nice city to live in. I wouldn’t exactly say that I was blown away as a visitor though…
Breisach – a small town on the Rhine, France just across the river. A cute little town with some nice old buildings. The highlight was the münster (no pic below, was covered in scafolding..), which is up on a hill overlooking the town. Breisach is quite nice and, although not swamped by tourists it has a good tourist infrastructure. A good place to rent a bike and do some cycling. Not such a great place that I would want to come back, but a nice town not worth avoiding (how’s that for an off-handed compliment?)
Neuf-Brisach (4 km across the river from Breisach in France). This place is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Aerial photos of Neuf-Brisach, with its octagonal fortifications surrounding the town, are very impressive.
We took the bus to Neuf-Brisach. After a nice ride in green countryside, the bus went through a brick gate (impressive we thought), into a town unlike any other. Deserted streets barren of people, no storefronts, no trees, a concrete landscape of non-descript 1 and 2 storey houses. Every street looked the same, until we reached a square in the middle of the town where we were dropped off. We were right in front of the tourist office – it was Saturday and it was closed. The square was called Place D’Armes; a large square with a fountain in the middle. Unfortunately the square was a cement parking lot and the fountain wasn’t functioning.
We walked down deserted streets half expecting to be attacked by a pack of stray dogs. Neuf-Brisach is an ugly and utterly depressing town devoid of life.
Things only changed when we got out of the town gates and walked along the outside walls of the town. The fortifications are amazingly – we circled the town, seeing nothing but these huge brick walls (below).
We got back to town, making sure to get back in time for the bus to get us out of Neuf-Brisach. The place has so much potential, the fortifications are really impressive – but honestly, the town really is a bloody armpit. I remarked to my mom that the French should just swallow their pride and hand it over to the Germans (who do a much better job of preserving their historical monuments).
That was our trip. Although we didn’t love everywhere we went, we always like discovering new places even if it sometimes means disappointment. We had lots of good food, beer, and wine, plus more importantly, we got to spend some time together which is rare these days.