We adventured off to the Black Forest a few weeks ago. Our hotel was in Ohlsbach, about 2 km away from the train station and 20 km from France. The hotel was closed when we arrived, so we wandered around until we found a cafe with beer. A good German pils is delicious when you’re hungry. And even though it was 3 pm on Friday, a perfectly acceptable time for stores to remain open, everything but this cafe was closed. The cafe was outside of a bed-and-breakfast, but it felt like it was right smack in the middle of someone’s private driveway. Cats roamed around. An old lady checked on us from time to time, as she took care of household chores. An old tractor contraption rusted nearby.
The next day, we walked the 2 km to Gengenbach. Apple season is in full force, and apple trees along the road were bursting with apples. They tasted delicious, and nobody shot at us.
Apple Picking Farmers
The scenery was beautiful, but Alissa never noticed.
“We can look at the mountains later. There are so many great words in this dictionary!”
First, we went in search of Brauerei Willmann. Unfortunately, it had apparently shut down many years before, and the building was converted into a Greek restaurant that serves two shots of alcohol with dinner. The lady outside let us go in and look around anyway. Lots of old pipes and such.
Old brewing kettles at the former Brauerei Willmann
I think the best word for Gengenbach is ‘quaint.’ Their city website highlights all the best tourist attractions, so we decided to check it out. Who doesn’t want to see an old grain house?! But we eventually forgot what we were doing and just wandered around, poking our heads into any street or alley that looked cool. We later went back and checked off all the items on the list. As it turns out, 80 percent of the attractions were centered around this oddly tiny statue.
The farmers’ market in the background was a win. We bought some young cheese and ate it with bread. It was a sour cheese, and was the best thing I ate all day. Seriously delicious. We also tried every kind of grape we could find. I even picked grapes off the vines growing around town. Alissa couldn’t stop me, because everyone knows grapes are delightful, and not poisonous in any way.
But they had seeds in them and were extremely sweet. We couldn’t even finish these three tiny branches. And the social-acceptability of spitting out seeds onto beautiful cobblestone streets is questionable. Storing the seeds in a pouch in your cheek, and then barfing them into the closest trash can is not much better.
View from Bridge in Gengenbach
The next day, we hopped on a bus to Offenburg. We heard there was a wine festival there, but we never found it. Instead, we found another abandoned brewery. It’s hard to accept that two presumably awesome places are permanently closed. We sat in front of the building for a few minutes, hoping someone would come by and open, but it didn’t happen.
After wandering to the other side of the city, we found ourselves at the Brandeck restaurant beside the Kronen Brauerei, the brewery of the local common beer. It was pretty much just us and a bunch of elderly people. So we drank every beer they had, sipped neuer wein, and sat under the chestnut trees in beautiful, sunny weather.
All my photos are terrible. Possibly because we got drunk. I think we were there for four or five hours.
There’s an awesome castle on the hill overlooking the city, but we didn’t visit.
I know what you’re thinking. “But it’s a castle. Why go to abandoned breweries when you can go to a castle?” And you have a valid point. I don’t know. Honestly, it’s a little depressing. I bet you can hit those houses from the castle wall with a bow and arrow. If the people living here don’t already have a town competition like that, it’s time to start one.
Right before we left to get on the train, Alissa ducked into a bakery and grabbed a slice of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (“black forest cherry cake”). It was the most delicious cake I’ve ever had. Super rich cherries in a chocolate cake drenched with alcohol.
Like taking five delicious shots of cherry vodka
We may have been drunk again for the train ride home.