Our final morning in the Pfalz was a rather relaxed one. We enjoyed our last visit to the excellent breakfast buffet put on by Weingut Manz, then finished up packing before turning in the keys and bidding Wachenheim and the Pfalz farewell. Once out on the road, we picked up the A-65 Autobahn and headed southeast toward the Rhein before crossing outside Karlsruhe. We passed within 3 miles of where I had lived in Karlsruhe and I thought about making a detour to show my nieces the university where I had started my graduate studies and the building I had lived in on the edge of the city forest, but we had friends awaiting our afternoon arrival in Augsburg and we already had a detour through the northern portion of the Black Forest planned, so at the crucial interchange I opted to stay on the highway. My nieces had been sufficiently tolerant of my meander down memory lane in Hamburg, and in the back of my head I knew that if I pulled off for Karlsruhe it would turn into the same again – with the requisite stops in old familar places and associated stories – and that would most certainly not be a short visit.
Having picked a Black Forest tour route more by traffic connections than by destination, we had settled on a stop in Calw as the best combination of scenic drives and progress toward the end destination of the day at Augsburg. Accordingly we left the Autobahn at Pforzheim and meandered our way up the Nagold valley toward Calw… at least until we hit a construction detour. Given our general interest in seeing the area a detour wasn’t overly out of place, and the one we took lead us up out of the forested river valley onto a higher plain decorated with fields of bright yellow raps alternating with first growth hay, as well as smaller roadside strips of u-pick flower stands. We then descended back into the valley and eventually into Calw where we meandered a bit in the car before finding a quiet (and free) parking spot just outside of the old town area.
Once on foot, we headed off on a targeted search for cake. Black Forest Cherry Cake in particular, and we were successful. The cafe we found serving it had outdoor seating which would have been quite nice a bit later in the day, but at the time we were there it was a bit on the cool and breezy side and sitting inside was far more attractive.
After our tea and cake break, we spent a few more minutes walking through the section of Calw we were in before heading back to the car and letting the GPS guide us back to the Autobahn and onward to my friends’ home in Koenigsbrunn by Augsburg.
We were in a good traffic flow, running ahead of schedule, and in the midst of a rousing game of license plate bingo when we approached the exit for Ulm, which in the back of my mind I had considered taking for a quick drive through the town and then proceed onward to Koenigsbrunn on some of the more local roads if traffic had been heavy on the Autobahn. I saw no need to do so, and we carried on. A few minutes later we were stuck in a full blown Stau, as in a near gridlock traffic jam in the middle of the highway where nothing ca move and most people turn off their cars. After about 15 minutes or so some people around us started to get out of their cars and walk around, talk to each other, and generally kill time. My nieces thought it was quite humorous, so they also got out of the car and joined in the pop-up road festival for a few minutes before heading back to join me in the car at that mysterious signal that lets groups of people know that something is about to happen. After a total time stopped of roughly half hour things started to move again, and 15 minutes later we were pulling in the driveway at my friends’ house.
They had tea and coffee waiting for us, and after a short visit to settle in we headed out to explore Augsburg in the evening. Most of the buildings had already closed for the day, but it was still a very enjoyable stroll through a city filled with history as well as everyday activities. Although I had not planned on turning the trip into a Luther-tour, having visited Coburg earlier in the trip it was hard not to appreciate the connection as we enjoyed the garden in front of the rebuilt Bishop’s residence and passed by other sites that Coburg is where Luther stayed during the preparation for the Diet of Augsburg and the Augsburg Confession.
We continued our tour through the historic city center as we learned of Augsburg’s leading roles in medieval finance and textiles before eventually leaving the historic part behind us and returning to the car park. On the way there, however, we had a final encounter with the textile traditions of the city when one of my nieces noticed the window displays of a store selling traditional Bavarian clothing and was enthralled by seeing a store apparently selling nothing but dirndls. Cherry trees were also in full bloom, and our path out of the city was lined with cherry pink highlights.
Following an excellent dinner at one of our hosts’ favorite Italian restaurants, we returned to their home for an extended evening of conversation. One of my nieces who had gone several months without playing the piano noticed theirs, and as she was appreciating it was invited to play, a request she happily complied with.