BEING FRUGAL IN FREIBURG GERMANY
Not long ago, my family and I took a trip to Freiburg, Germany. We travel all over Europe for our jobs and this is a city we have always wanted to see so, we made time for a quick stop. While we are in a frugal mindset we decided that during our trips we would be as frugal as possible and we would take advantage of everything in the area that is free or nearly free. We stayed in a budget friendly hotel which, was ok for the price. The hotel bed could have been much better but, the breakfast was quite fantastic and plentiful. The area where we stayed was outside of the center and more in an industrial area with lots of businesses, it was very safe and quiet at night.
There are many places to visit and see in and around Freiburg but, as always, we started in the center of town. The town itself was founded in 1120 by Konrad and Duke Berthold III of Zähringen. Back then it was a “free market town” and that is where it gets its name. Directly in the center is a daily market in Münsterplatz, where you can find everything from flowers and gardening supplies to food, clothing, handmade toys and fresh fish. While walking the historic cobblestone streets in this area you can truly get a feel of what it was like before modern times. The colorful shops and homes here have not changed much over the years and are beautifully decorated with paintings and other adornments. As we made our way through this town I was just stunned by its beauty and the friendly nature of its people.
THE FREIBURG MÜNSTER
Also in the center of this town you will likely notice its beautiful Cathedral which, was built partially on the foundations of the original church that had been there from the first starting of Freiburg in 1120. The last Duke of Zahringen started building the Cathedral around the year 1200 and was completed in the Middle Ages, around 1330. As construction started it was in Romanesque style, then thirty years later Gothic style became the norm. As such, the remaining construction was all completed in the Gothic style and it has remained as it was finished until today. It was a miracle that this Cathedral was not destroyed in the bombing raids of 1944, where all houses on the North and West sides of the Market were destroyed. Interestingly enough, this Cathedral is not owned by the Roman Catholic Church. It was then owned by the people of Freiburg who changed the situation by creating, the Münsterbauverein Association who now owns and maintains the building and its interior.
This Cathedral is really something to see. Its architecture is breathtaking and the stained glass windows are spectacular. We meandered around it first, filming from just the outside. We then paid our respects inside and lit a few candles before continuing on our day. This is a wonderful place for praying, contemplation and quiet in the middle of the city. It is a wonder and should be seen, no matter what religion you follow.
Just outside of the city center, you can find the breathtaking Freiburg SeePark (Lake Park). It is situated in the middle of a large residential area with many walking paths that take you all around this large manmade lake. This area was created in 1986 for the Landesgartenschau (Lands Garden Show) and has become a diamond for those who live in the area. The lake itself covers 24 acres and the rest of the recreational area of the park covers 86 acres. There is a wonderful restaurant with an artistically covered terrace overlooking the lake with a dock nearby where people can rent small boats. There is a large rose garden area, along with an area for sports that is complete with a spectacular soccer field that has a running track all the way around it.
Directly behind and across from the restaurant area there is a large Japanese Garden (38750 square feet) that was made in partnership with the Japanese city of Matsuvama which is absolutely perfect for meditation or contemplation. While there, we got to see how the parks workers, who take care of that area, work so painstakingly to keep this special area of the park, with all of the wonderful plants and trees, in such perfect condition. There are various paths to be walked, each made differently with rocks, wood, pebbles or paver stones and made so that you would have to walk in a different way or concentrate more on the area to in order to step properly. In any event, it is not an area to be missed as it is not something that you will find everywhere in Europe.
While we were there we saw many different types of ducks and swans swimming in the waters, people from the area walking their dogs or letting their dogs swim in the lake. Many others were walking the lake with friends, jogging in the area or just sitting on the benches that are placed throughout the park and it was peaceful. Such parks, so full of beauty and peace should be taken advantage of as they help in calming the soul, allowing you to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
FREIBURG CRAFT BEER & DINNER
As with many German towns and cities Freiburg has many beer gardens. One of the best and most recommended is the Hausbrauerei Feierling. After a day of exploring the area there is nothing better than sitting down in this beer garden with a freshly brewed mug of cold beer and a large, handmade “pretzel”. Here in Germany, as with all other EU nations, what we know as pretzels are called Bretzel and you can find them everywhere but, here they really hit the spot with the beer. I am not really a beer drinker but, once in awhile I will try a few sips of the one that my husband has. In his opinion, this brewery makes an excellent beer. Seeing that he was born and raised in Germany, I will take his word for it.
While we were here splitting a Bretzel and cooling off with our drinks, we decided that their menu looked pretty good and the prices were extremely fair so we ordered a few different dishes so we could all try a bit of everything. I had the Rahmschnitzel with Spätzle; which is a handmade egg noodle that is a very typical German fair, my husband had the Inselschnitzel with Brägele and Salad and my son had Bauernwürste with Bauernbrot. All three of us were very happy with our choices and I am happy to say that all three dishes were exceptionally good in taste and quality. The end bill was just under thirty bucks. We wanted to have dessert but after that lunch, we were all too full to try anything else out at that moment.
WALKING IN FREIBURG & ICECREAM
After such a large lunch, we decided that the only way to get us back into the car comfortably was to take a nice walk through the area. The neighborhoods are all so clean and well cared for. We saw many people out working in their yards and caring for their trees, plants and flowers. The buildings were all well cared for, those that needed a bit of work already had workers putting up their equipment or already working on getting a new color on the building. After half an hour of wandering, we happened upon a local eiscafè. There are many around and all of them have excellent choices with fair prices and where we decided to stop was no different. We all had a small cup of our favorite and split a large water, the bill was less than ten bucks.
MUSEUMS & OTHER ATTRACTIONS
There are so many museums and other attractions in and around Freiburg that it could take a few days of constant movement in order to see and experience everything in and around the area. Some noteworthy things that can be mentioned are the Augustinermuseum which, houses a renowned collection ranging from the Middle Ages up to the Baroque period. This particular museum is in an Augustinian Monestary and is one of the oldest buildings in the area. Also the Museum für Neue Kunst (Modern Art Museum) has quite a fantastic collection and should not be missed by anyone that appreciates modern art. Something else in the area that can be appreciated by all is the Schlossbergbahn which opens at nine in the morning and closes at midnight. The Bahn is not always open so make sure to check online before you head over there. Also worth seeing is the lovely Black Forest. There are hundreds of miles of forest paths with adventure and educational trails. You can BBQ and there are many areas for the kids to play. Make sure to take your swimsuits as there are lakes where you can go swimming. You could literally spend a few days just hiking, swimming and getting back to nature here.
Freiburg has much to offer the frugal traveller. There are plenty of hotels in the area for the price conscious and there are many activities that either do not cost at all or have a minimal price. It is a very nice place to go for those who want to see the real Germany and get a bit off of the beaten touristic path. While they do get many tourists in high summer, spring and fall are great times to go for those who want a bit more quiet.