Heading to Stuttgart

From Schongau, staying on the ‘scenic route’ we drove the 66kms north to Augsburg. The mountain peaks flattened into long undulating plains which still proved to have steep hairpin bends in places. Nervy still about Bertha’s steering we veered off the A8 to visit a motorhome service garage for help.

Unfortunately, whilst the mechanic understood the problem he was not able to deal with it and directed us to a Fiat dealership. After some fruitless searching around an industrial estate we found the business, closed for the last five years. We headed onwards and it was with some relief that we pulled into a central car park aire at Kircheim-unter-Teck at 5pm, having driven 135kms.

Kircheim-unter-Teck from the autobahn

Not having much energy we meandered into town and perched on a bench at a local’s bar run by punky middle-aged women sporting tattoos and improbable hair colours.

Back in Bertha it was a frustrating evening trying to use our phones to internet research a route into and out of Stuttgart without falling foul of the ‘umwelt zone’, Germany’s environmental tax but also the network of roads which are off limits to diesel guzzling vehicles like ours. Pretty tired by now we battened up for the night as locals left the car park in droves.

A chilly night in Bavaria

Next morning, woken early by a mechanical digger in the car park and not having found an immediate solution to the Stuttgart problem we headed back into the Black Forest, this time on its eastern side. We experienced momentary panic as we realised were indeed passing through the ‘umwelt zone’ around the town of Pforzheim.We fixed apologetic smiles and tried to look inconspicuous to a passing police car!

A scruffy campsite at Bad Liebenzell proved to be a gem as we got off the road and promptly hogged the washing and drying machines, showers and wifi! Bad Liebenzell is well connected by train so the next day we took a free ride on our ‘guest card’ south to Horb-am-Neckar.

Through the Eastern side of the Black Forest

It was good to be back on a swift, clean German train but this time it felt oppressive travelling through the dark forest.Where on the west side the tracks ran through open pastoral land and valleys alongside clear rivers, pretty villages and well stocked and tended farms, here on the east the route was through steeply forested escarpments which were home to heavy industry and down at heel-looking towns. Everything seemed, well, dark and dank.

It was a close, muggy afternoon as we scaled, yet again, more narrow streets and alleyways up to the centre of the old town. Slightly disconcerted by graphic sculptures depicting Leda and a randy swan, and another of presumably the Minotaur’s mother and her bullish lover, we found the charming market square and painted Rathaus, depicting the good citizens of Horb.

Decorated Horb Rathaus

A closer look reveals Horb’s heritage

Spiralling back down the alleyways we passed gangs of university students camped out in the many kebab and pizza bars housed in mediaeval merchant shops. We joined them to share a kebab fresh out of the bread oven of an elderly black-garbed Turkish lady. Germany has large settled Turkish communities and consequently you are never too far from a cheap and exceptionally good quality kebab!

As this was to be our last day in the Black Forest we asked at the tourist office about the best gateau in town. Clearly there was plenty of competition and it took the lovely lady at least 6 minutes to decide. Duly directed back up the steep way to the Markt Platz a bemused café owner presented us with a whole Black Forest Gateau, six inches high, 12 inches wide and covered in white frothy cream.

Settling just for the one piece we finally tucked into our first, and last, slice of the heavenly cake. A fitting way to end a return to the forest!

One final night in the Black Forest