(Music on/off)

Chapter 7 - "Slumming in the Schwarzwald"

October 2 - Sunday - Day 16

Since this is departure day Frau Lutz was kind enough to let me come down for breakfast early. At 7:30 she serves up a nice little spread of eggs, meats, cheese, and bread.

By 8:00 I am done and headed for the door, but just as I am leaving the Frau presents me with a nice little souvernir of a Neuschwanstein key ring. Itís her way of saying thanks for recommending the place in my trip reports. Nice touch.

Today is a long drive to the Black Forest and, if history repeats itself, my next roadblock could come in the form of a Stau near Meersburg.

Naturally it is raining like crazy as I make my way through Füssen, then cross country to Hopferau to pick up the
A7 toward Kempten. Fortunately, being Sunday, there is hardly any traffic and I make good time getting to the Autobahn.

A7 ends, or begins depending on your point of view and what direction you are headed, near Hopferau right out in the middle of a field. Itís almost like they were going strong on the building and suddenly ran out of money. Supposedly, according to the plan at least, it will one day go all the way to Salzburg.

Just before reaching Kempten I switch over to the
B12 which goes direct to Lindau. On previous trips, and brighter days, along this route I was able to enjoy the nice scenery. But today is just a dreary, fog shrouded, morning with nothing but the beating of the rain to keep you entertained.

I reach Lindau around 10:00 and pick up the
B31 which will take me all the way along the Bodensee. As I pass Friedrichshafen I canít help but wonder if anyone will be taking one of those expensive blimp rides today. As a little history lesson it behooves us to remember that it was here that the first German Zepplins to cross the Atlantic to America were built. I understand there is a nice airship museum here, and I hope to visit it one day.

With fingers crossed as I near Meersburg, I am hoping I donít encounter those infamous Stau that have plagued me for years when coming through here. Thankfully, I am rewarded by the fact that the road construction which was ongoing here for a couple of years, is finally finished. It is smooth sailing all the way to Stockach.

At the point where the
B31 and B33 split off, I take the latter toward Donaueschingen. With fond memories of our Stammtisch tour of the Fürstenberg brewery in 2003, courtesy of Gary, I pass through the quiet streets amidst the cling clang of church bells.

Finally, around 1:00, I reach my new destination for the next three days. I have landed an accommodation at a large farm located smack in the middle of Gutach, just a short distance from the Gasthof Zur Linde for those of you familiar with the area. This is the ďRommelehofĒ, a very typical Black Forest style farm with the big main house, steep roof, and of course, smoke curling from the chimneys as I pull into the front yard. Looks like home to me.

Bauernhof Rommelehof
Family Müllerleile
Ramsbachweg 69
77793 Gutach
Tel -7833/6540
Email -

I had secured an e-mail reservation with the Family Müllerleile some months back, and they are expecting me. Uh oh, it seems no one speaks English so I had best step lightly with my Deutsch the next few days.

Normally, on a farm you expect to have a room somewhere in the main house, usually upstairs, with the balcony and the whole routine. Their confirmation indicated I would be having a DZ for E20 per night.

However, on arrival I am informed that they are fully booked in the main house, as proved to be the case the whole time I was there, but if I didnít mind staying in the annex next to the house I could have a Fewo for E30. I said letís take a look and weíll see.

It only took a brief glance to convince me to go for it. I am given a large A-frame style apartment, newly decorated with fresh smelling pine paneling, with all the trimmings, kitchen, lounge area, huge TV, shower/toilet. And breakfast is still included in the price. Who could pass on a deal like this. As it turned out, the annex was nothing but apartments and it was also full the entire time.

I have to say that in all my travels that this was definitely one of the best farm accommodations I have ever had for the price. And the location proved to be ideal. Score one for the Rommelehof.

The weather in this area is somewhat better than that of the past few days. Although at least itís not raining, there are low hanging clouds all across the valley. But to me thatís just an extra touch.

After unpacking and taking a Fürstenberg break in front of the tube for awhile, I map out the plan for the rest of the day.

I cruise over to the outdoor Freilichtmuseum only to be greeted by a completely full parking lot. This is definitely a popular place rain or shine.

My next stop is a no brainer. Itís time for another computer fix. The only problem is that the nearest place I know with an internet café is Lahr, about 30 km away.

BB and I stumbled into this place a couple of years ago. Itís a typical young peopleís hangout with lots of video games and about a dozen terminals. But at E1 per half hour itís a good place to kill some time. Besides, itís starting to rain again so I order up a brew and proceed to dive into AOL.

There are a couple of messages from some of the Stammtisch indicating they have returned home safely. The weather at home is hot and dry, and suddenly Iím not as inclined to gripe about a little rain. It doesnít take much to keep me humble.

After a pleasant hour of surfing it is time to head back and scope out a place for dinner. Although it is only 5:00 the dark skies make it seem much later. Also, since it is Sunday Iím not too sure what the opportunities are for finding open Gasthäuser.

Back in Gutach I check out a couple of possibilities, and finally settle on an old reliable, the
Gasthof ďZum EngelĒ. I stayed here several years ago and remember it as being an inexpensive place that is popular with the locals. There is only a light crowd when I arrive, and I select a nice quite corner table with a view over the nearby valley. The Schwarzwaldbahn line is directly behind the house and the occasional shrill whistle of passing trains can be heard.

I end up ordering a nice sized Putenschnitzel with Pommes, accompanied by a self made salad from the nearby buffet. Normally I can pass on German salads, but this one isnít too bad. The final tab is only E12.

By the time Iím leaving it is around 7:00 and completely dark. There is a light drizzle which convinces me that the best place for the rest of the evening is back at the farm. A nice hot shower and some German TV sounds like a good mix to me.

I open up the big picture windows and let the cool night air blow in. The pitter patter of rain is intoxicating (as is the jug of red wine I am about to put away), and I manage to surf the TV channels until I come across an action packed cop show complete with car chases, shoot Ďem ups, and some rather interesting shower commercials. What a great way to sell soap.

October 3 - Monday - Day 17

After a very restful night I am up early as usual, to put the finishing touches on the plans for today. However, the early morning weather on TV doesnít look good. It is already drizzling and the low clouds are scattered all over the valley.

At 8:00 I stroll over to the main house for an excellent breakfast of crusty rolls, delicious Black Forest ham and bacon, cheese and wurst. A big pot of coffee tops it off and Iím a happy camper. Feeling fortified, I am off to play tourist for the day.

My first plans were to hit the local bank in Gutach to pick up some Euro. However, the fates were about to pop the air out of my balloon. Not only is the bank closed, but so are all the shops, the Spar Markt, and anything else resembling a business. HmmmmmÖ. this bears looking into.

I finally get the bad news at a nearby service station. Today is Reunification Day, and of course a national holiday. Tainít nuthin open, SurpriseÖ surprise.

Oh well, as long as I am here itís time for another gas stop anyway. This one comes to 41 liters at E1.14, and almost 900 km since the last fill up. Iím sure going to miss this car when the trip is over.

Falling back to Plan B, I resign myself to the fact that there wonít be much to write about today. The weather is lousy and about all I am going to accomplish is to hit a few of my favorite spots around the local area.

Starting with the House of 1000 Clocks near Triberg I make what has to be about my fiftieth visit over the past few years. I love this place, and even though I am well beyond collecting any of the souvenir junk that abounds here, I always enjoy some quiet browsing time. Plus, I get to watch the prices change every year for the huge wall clock that I bought here about 20 years ago.

Next stop is a drive-by of downtown Triberg. The rain is steadily falling and I have no intentions of walking the streets. Despite the holiday, most of the souvenir shops along the upper part of the main drag are open and thriving. It just goes to prove you canít keep a good tourist and their credit cards down because of a little rain.

I briefly toyed with the idea of heading over to Urach for a surprise visit to the Zum Sternen, but finally nixed the thought. With it being a holiday the chances are probably slim I might catch anyone home. Besides, I seem to recall that Monday was their Ruhetag so I donít feel too bad about not going.

Instead I make my way back along the
B33 where I opt for a noontime snack stop at the Freilichtmuseum.

A couple of Bratwurst, and a cold Fürstenberg, perched on the dashboard of the car make for a peaceful picnic while watching the incoming tour buses unload their flocks in the rain.

Looks like I will have to take a pass on visiting the place this trip.

This would be a great day to hole up in some internet café but Iím not going to drive all the way back to Lahr for the privilege. Instead I cruise over to Wolfach, a nice little town to visit, and tour some of the nearby backroads to recon possible new farms. The main street is practically deserted and I only see one restaurant open for business. I guess these folks take their holiday seriously.

By late afternoon I have had about enough of the weather, I decide to forego playing tourist and call it a day. Fortunately, I spot a nearby gas station that is open and am able to pick up some munchies, some Bier, and ďvoilaĒ a bottle of red wine.

With a warm room and some TV awaiting me I yield to the temptation and elect to call it a day. With luck maybe I can catch another of those soap commercials. :O)

October 4 - Tuesday - Day 18

This is getting ridiculous not to mention downright irritating. We are now in our ninth straight day of rain and this is no longer amusing.

I was hoping to get a break for my last day in the area, but it is not to be. Even the good breakfast doesnít cheer me up, and afterwards I sulk back to the room to weigh the options of whether or not itís even worth venturing out today.

After watching the German version of Wheel of Fortune until mid-morning I have finally had enough, and decide to hell with it Iím going out anyway.

Shortly before noon I arrive in Gengenbach, and grab a parking spot near the Rathaus. Fortunately, most of the shops lining the street have some type of awning to protect the shoppers from getting drenched. So I am able to do some browsing, and even manage to snap off a few pics, being as how this is a picturesque little town and I donít want to miss out.

The backroads in this area of the Kinzigtal valley offer a combination of scenery and opportunity to explore a few more farms. This whole Bauernhof fixation actually began just a short distance from here when the BB entourage stayed at the ďSchillihofĒ back in í93. They are to blame for our addiction, so it only seems fair to do a drive by to see if the place is still in business. Chuck and Beverly also stayed here a few years ago based on one of our trip reports.

Just as I am nearing the farm I spot a mass of moving white objects in a field just off the road. As I pull up I recognize them to be geese, hundreds of them. Rolling down the window in order to get a shot seems to set them off,

because you wouldnít believe the racket they made with all their honking. I just hope the farmer doesnít think I am out shopping for dinner and decides to unload some buckshot in my direction.

Further down the road I pass several houses that all have their Halloween decorations out. Some are pretty elaborate I have to admit, and I canít resist a photo stop at one that has a huge pumpkin patch where they are selling them off the back of a wagon. Apparently the ghosts and goblins gig is not just an American thing.

After a couple more photo stops around the area I head back toward Gutach. Thank goodness everything is back to business as usual after the holiday, and I am able to make a run at the local Spar Markt where I stock up on ďessentialsĒ to re-supply what I drank last night.

I also yield to the Bratwurst temptation by making a final stop at the Imbiss at the outdoor museum. They serve some of the best Brat I have ever had. As luck would have it, if I had arrived ten minutes later I would have been S.O.L. because the place is just starting to close down. No wonder, it is almost six oíclock and I have let the time slip away.

Just as well. There is not much more that I can milk out of this day so we may as well pack it in. Besides, I need to get my gear together for an early start tomorrow for the long drive to the Rhine.

This morning at breakfast I had mentioned to the Frau that I would like to buy a couple of bottles of their home brewed schnapps. She just happens to be out in the yard as I pull in, and promptly produces two ½ liter bottles, one for me and one for BB. Only a few Euro each, but the stuff sure packs a punch if drank without a chaser. I still have over half a bottle.

At this point I pay off the bill, glad to have had such nice accommodations for the price, and inform the Frau that I am skipping breakfast in the morning in favor of an early start.

Too bad the weather didnít cooperate for these three days. But this area is one of my favorites, and rain or shine I know I will keep coming back like a bug to a nightlight.

Chapter 8

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