Monday, 22 July 2013

The perfect road trip : Visit to Schauinsland, Black Forest

How do you define the perfect road trip? We go to so many places - amazing and mundane, exotic and everyday, we remember somethings, forget many others. I suppose, for a trip to be the perfect road trip, it is the travel that is more memorable than the destination ... the journey which is cherished and fondly recollected.
The road trip I will tell you about today was more perfect that any I could have ever imagined. I was going to Schauinsland in Black Forest, Germany to set up a weather station with my colleagues. We had booked a Renault mini van and having packed our instruments in the back, we set off on a nearly 500 km long journey.
Now driving on the German autobahn is an experience in itself and I will write more on that later. Let it suffice to say that including a snack break and traffic halts, we covered the distance in four hours with most of the journey being covered at speeds greater than 150 kmph.

Speedometer hitting 170 kmph



The weather station at Schauinsland is just under an hour's drive from Freiburg. By the time we reached Freiburg, night had set in and Freiburg was lovely and dreamy and I spent hours walking down the cobbled paths before before dinner at a pub and a night spent at a very questionable hostel which again is a story for another time.

Freiburg in the evening

Freiburg in the evening
 We started very early the next day and soon left Freibug behind. As we entered the Black Forest, my sleepy eyes caught a strange sight. All color seemed to have been bleached from the surrounding area, everything was black and white. I gaped as I realised what I was seeing - I had dozed off soon after starting and now we had reached near the top of the hill and every where around the narrow black road was white, fluffy, pristine and oh so light snow. In the half light from the research building, that was our destination, the dark road cut a stark line against the white background.

The road to the Schauinsland Weather Station

Our car, our source of warmth in the frigid air

Ah, wonderful golden warm light

I am an Indian from the plains. Though I had travelled and trekked, I had never seen such amounts of snow before. Suddenly, as daylight broke, I saw white flakes floating down. I had seen hail storm before, but never snow fall. If you have never seen snow fall before, you must realise that snow doesn't really fall, snow floats and flits and wanders about, hesitant and indecisive. I held out my hands and caught snow flakes, I stuck out my tongue and caught snow flakes, my jacket, my hair, the windshield of the car - we all caught snow flakes and for a while, we were lost in the beauty of the moment - nothing else mattered, only the feathery whooshy sound of falling snow and our breath fogging up the air.

A tree-house in snow

Snowflakes on my finger (gloves)

After a hard morning's work, it was time to go back. By this time, the sun was up and everywhere I looked, I was physically reeling from the beauty around me - it was stunning, the blue skies, the white snow, the dark fir trees that give Black Forest its name - everything was so fairy-tale like that it was tough to believe it was actually a place in our real world.

A cottage along the way

Place where I had my one and only snowball fight

View from the car

White and blue 

The valley in light and shade

Only if the road never ends

As we took the winding road down to the valley, slowly the fields made the transition from white to green.

Coming down from Schauinsland

The white fields above and green valley down below

Just like that, we were on our way back. We were strangely silent as we sped on the autobahn, the beauty that surrounded us only moments ago had put us all in a contemplative mood. How glorious the world is and how magnificent our journey through it.
It is trip like this that puts in us a new appreciation for the world that we live in and the wonders that lay awaiting discovery by all willing to begin their journey.
The trip was almost over when quite literally, at the end of the road, there was a rainbow, a complete double rainbow spanning the sky over the French-German border, a spectacle in the sky, the glory of Nature unbound by political barriers. 
It was the perfect road trip which rekindled in the world-weary me a fresh sense of awe, a humility and the sense that Nature is bigger and stronger and more beautiful than anything we humans will ever create.
A double rainbow

Double rainbow seen at the border of Germany and France


"I see trees of green........ red roses too 
I see them bloom..... for me and for you 
And I think to myself.... what a wonderful world. 

I see skies of blue..... clouds of white 
Bright blessed days....dark sacred nights 
And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world."

Let's preserve the natural beauty of this wonderful world we call home.


This is my entry for 'The Perfect Road Trip' contest, hosted by IndiBlogger in association with Ambi Pur (https://www.facebook.com/AmbiPurIndia).

Read Debasish's entry for 'The Perfect Road Trip' contest here.