The story of Black Forest “Gump”s !

Germany is a unique country and has always fascinated me. I was filled with mixed emotions when our flight touched down at Frankfurt Airport. It is the same airport which was the entry point for “baba” many moons ago and would have likely walked out of the lobby wearing his stiff Raymond suit; where my best friend (and now official hubby!) hopped over to reach London for his first international assignment. Such memories raced in my mind as the three of us walked out of the Frankfurt airport.

Our destination was Baden- Baden. We reached Baden-Baden around 6pm in a high-speed ICE train from Frankfurt. Despite several rounds of counting our bags, like a typical Indian traveler, we realized that we had, in fact left behind a backpack in the long departed train! It was almost like the setting of a classic English novel – rain in the backdrop with three confused Indians trying to figure their way out in a new country. However we did find a messiah , a warm hearted and smiling German Rail official , who patiently heard our story, somehow understood the plight – made sure that several phone calls were immediately made (to different trains and nearby stations) and we eventually ,had our backpack with us. We have heard about German efficiency before, but this was a warm, gentle side that we were already falling in love with. The thermal bath town of Baden-Baden was beginning to warm us up as soon as we came in.

A very “good end” of what could have been bad end at Baden Baden. After all, that backpack had our International Driving Permit!!
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Driving unlike cycling is not standardized across globe & we are one of the few countries carrying the legacy of British raj & we drive left. The next day was our first tryst with driving on right side of the road. Our solitary driver was of coarse under immense pressure & we almost did a test run in the garage itself !!! However Sandip settled in like a pro and shifted to the fastest lane soon enough and we enjoyed the lovely roads with high end vehicles zooming past.

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AWE
Our first stop was Triberg, the birthplace of the famous cuckoo clocks. We were simply amazed and humbled to learn the secrets of its mechanical workings – as we stood in front of the world’s biggest Cuckoo clock – the size of a house. All of us jumped in glee as a giant cuckoo chanted at the noon.
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Imagine how miserable a digital clock fares in this competition .However much one takes pride on his/her FITBIT/ or the apple watch , a simple time telling cuckoo clock beats them any day , in generating unadultareted glee , thereby improving your happiness quotient to a different level altogether.

We then stopped over in the beautiful small town of Triberg for a cup of coffee to rejuvenate ourselves before heading up to Feldberg.
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The road thru the quintessential Blackforest with beautiful Fir trees, wooden house perched atop the canopy of trees reminded us of our very own Kashmir valley. We were ina different world altogether. I must mention here that our travel buddies from Catterfly were amazing as they already checked out the live webcams and guided us to enjoy the snow at Feldberg. It is the highest peak in Blackforest region. We were extremely excited driving through the winding mountain roads . The snow-capped mountains that seemed far off, just appeared out of nowhere as we suddenly saw the white patches in the road. It was an unbelievable sight with clean black, tar roads, and white snow footpaths…!

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FUN
We loved every bit of our stay here, as Feldberg welcomed us to its white snowy world.
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Of course, not many people were around as the ski season has just ended with a relatively warm European winters, but for us it was like the post sales super market; bit devastated but calm and mysterious! The mom and daughter duo immediately got into some snow actions; running around, throwing snow balls all-across, and as the cameraman dad played soon joined in the fun as well – it was like Three Musketeers in a white island. And, the locals out for a dog’s walk were probably amused looking at us as we made our own games on the ski slopes…!

We headed down to Lake Titisee after having our lunch at Feldberg;
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PEACE
Titisee is set amidst mountains with a black-green expanse and despite many tourists around, it was very clam and everyone seemed to be mesmerized by the settings.
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We soaked in the quaint settings sitting at one of the benches for a long time.

This ideally could have been our last stop for the day as we have already travelled 2000KMso far. However standing at a border of Switzerland & France with Germany , our daughter narrated one of her English book stories “ The last Class” by Alphonse Daudet. Fench and Bengalis have a strange connect, we both are exceedingly emotional & romantic race ! Hence “VIVE LA FRANCE!” we wanted to go to Alsace as well. It was an impromptu decision . Once again our travel guru at catterfly came forward with immediate help . An impromptu decision to visit the neighboring Alsace region in France sitting on the border of Switzerland and Germany became reality. The power of local expertise and technology was in full swing as the route map got almost immediately uploaded in our personalized plan on Catterfly Mobile app, and we set forth to experience The French Connection at Alsace.

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LOVE

The landscape on the French side was completely different as vineyards gently replaced the fir trees and the miles of green fields gave the feel of hand painted fairy tale books from our childhood days. I felt a very strong sense of Deja-vu of having experienced something similar or being there before. It was probably surreal as the gorgeous prints of the fairy tale books (akin to French landscape) always made an lasting impression.
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All of us were oozing with the excitement of crossing the three-country border, ready to show our passports – but alas! We were greeted by a smooth ride thru a modest unmanned checkpoint separated by the country flags and a McDonald’s!! We crossed over the post and had our evening tea breakin McD – quite an antidote to the famous French cuisine.

We reached a charming small village in Alsace region called “Eguisheim” as the sun was almost setting for the day. There was hardly anyone on the road as we took a stroll around this pretty village thru various family run wineries, and incidentally trespassed on to a private property. Think, the gentleness was in the air as a pope hailed from this villages in 1200s and we were greeted with a big smile by the owner as we introduced ourselves. He was pleasantly surprised to know that there is a special wine called “ Sula “ that is manufactured in India & we come from that state ! He was extremely gracious and requested his dad to show us around the centuries old wine cellars. Uncleji was even sweeter. He explained the process of wine making, storing, variety etc. We were wondering if it’s the local grapes or the wine that keeps him so young and charming despite his age. His genuineness and warmth really touched our heart. France won us over all over again (my 3rd trip to my country of love), much before the FIFA world cup.

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As our car gently rolled back in Baden-Baden, we were still reflecting on the experiences from the day.

We indeed did a lot of travelling & the BMW that we rode, indeed did a great run from one corner to the other. Sometimes we don’t realize why people travel; it’s the inner passion that makes travelers run from one place to another. The immortal quote “ Run , Forest run” had a different meaning for me on that day and I guess I shall always be wanting to do this again!!
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While so many movies have been made on the road trips – looks like we just created our very own !!

Ishita

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