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Fabulous Freiburg

“Live Well, Eat Well, Drink Well.”

That seems like a good motto for Freiburg, Germany’s southernmost city (near France and Switzerland), in the Baden territory at the edge of the Rhine Valley and Black Forest.

“We have food, wine–anything that would make you happy!” explained my tour guide as we strolled around the cobblestone

passageways–as I carefully avoided stumbling into the narrow Bachle–little curbside waterways unique to Germany that meander through the Old Town. Believed to be first utilized during the 13th century, at one time they were used as a fresh water supply and to fight fires. Today they flow on the side of narrow streets, allowing children to cool their bare feet–or float tiny boats–during the summer time. Legend has it that if you trip into one, you are destined to marry a Freiburger!

This charming town–with a population of 220,000 (about 10 percent university students) is known for its massive and impressive Gothic Freiburg (St. Mary’s) Cathedral, built from 1200 to 1514. You may want to attend a popular organ concert (its famed 1714 Gottfried Silbermann pipe organ–with 2,574 pipes–is just one of four pipe organs housed in the cathedral)–or heartily climb to the tower for a great view. Sun-splashed Freiburg is also known for its wine: it has the most vineyards in Germany, and is one of Germany’s major wine cities. Historic records track the vineyards here back to the 13th century.

After strolling around Old Town’s cobblestoned walkways, observing the charming architecture and shops, I enjoyed wine tasting at Alte Wache-Haus der Badischen, housed in a welcoming yellow building on Cathedral Square, where customers can sit outdoors on a sunny day and people-watch. Popular with wine connoisseurs, Alte Wache–the House of Baden Wines–boasts over 200 regional wines.

“People stop here after shopping–it’s a must to stop and have one to two glasses,” explained a solicitous server as she poured me a glass of Gutedel, accompanied by small plates with a variety of mini quiches and delicious Gugelhupf to munch on.

“Gutedel is one of the most popular wines, it’s a very light wine with an apple taste,” she explained as I took a sip. “Some people stop at 10 in the morning to have a glass–it’s drinkable all day long. Baden is also famous for the Pinot families.”

Later I sampled food in the vast, crowded, popular Food Market Hall (“Dishes from around the world in the heart of Freiburg”)–a good place to warm up on a chilly day. I noticed a sign in the maze of food stands: “Where you have a region with good wine, you have good food.”

Amen! And there was certainly a variety here: the food court for gourmets, touting delicious bites from many countries, including Brazil, China, Italy, Mexico, Argentina, Afghanistan. And, of course, plenty of German beer and Riesling!

I loved dining at several local restaurants–from Drexler to Ganter Braueraiauschank–getting my fill of veal or pork schnitzel, sauerkraut, goose breast, potato dumplings, venison, pretzels, veal sausages with sweet mustard–even beer soup! The area is also known for its Frogs’ legs, Quiche Lorraine, river perch, snails, and asparagus.

And not to forget the Farmer’s Market in the Cathedral Square, with stands touting local crafts, regional fruit, vegetables, flowers, spices, cheese, Black Forest cured ham, honey, teas and jams–and the legendary bratwurst and cheesecake.
Freiburg–designated a Green City–also boasts numerous cultural and health activities, including theatre, concerts, museums, festivals, and spas. A must stop is the renowned Augustinermuseum–with its extensive collection of art ranging from the Middle Ages to Baroque, as well as 19th century paintings. It’s housed in a former monastery, built in 1300. And, of course, there is ample shopping, which is a cultural event for some! For families, there’s the nearby Europa-park–Germany’s largest theme park–fun for kids of all ages. You can also take the Schauinsland cable car up the mountain for great views of Freiburg and into the Rhine Valley.

So, as you can see, there’s plenty of fun in Freiburg–and you won’t go hungry! And you just may want to take a few bottles of the regional wine home with you. q


Alte Wache-Haus der Badischen (good place on Cathedral Square to enjoy a wine-tasting and meal):

Ganter Braueraiauschank (I loved the bacon salad):

Drexler (charming place for dinner):

Food Market Hall (Markthalle):

Augustiner Museum:,Len/265394.html

Park Hotel Post (centrally located with an intimate book-filled lobby):

Historix Tours (costumed English-speaking guide):

Visit Freiburg:

Historic Highlights of Germany:

Sharon Whitley Larsen

Sharon Whitley Larsen

Sharon Whitley Larsen’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Los Angeles Times Magazine, U-T San Diego, Reader’s Digest (and 19 international editions), Creators Syndicate, and several “Chicken Soup for the Soul” editions.Although she enjoys writing essays, op-ed, and people features, her favorite topic is travel (favorite destination London).She’s been lucky to attend a private evening champagne reception in Buckingham Palace to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, to dine with best-selling author Diana Gabaldon in the Scottish Highlands, and hike with a barefoot Aborigine in the Australian Outback.Exploring sites from exotic travels in the Arctic Circle to ritzy Rio, with passport in hand, she’s always ready for the next adventure!
Sharon Whitley Larsen

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