Living the P.O.S.H life

I sat at the computer to write my blog and could not get my head around it, I kept nodding off, so I decided to have a power nap, well it was just after three in the afternoon. I came back into the land of the living at 7am the next morning.

Breakfast was a buffet, helps yourself, so I did, cornflakes, followed by a roll-on cooked ham and another on cheese and lots and lots of tea. My legs felt fresh after 16 hours of solid sleep and I needed them for the morning climb. High into the mountains, I went, higher than the highest waterfall. The snow was still lying in the cullies, so I was pleased to have my extra woolly poolly with me, it was cold. The rain was sporadic up there but when it did come on there was nothing woolly about it, heavy, cold and sleety. So my cape was on most of the day which hampered my progress into the headwind. Once at the top the descent was breathtaking. Why the whole area was breathtaking totally idyllic and picturesque with little traditionally built houses and farms. They seem to grow a lot of grass here but I did not see any cattle, maybe they are summer pastures or simply used to grow silage. Lots of sawmills and stacks of cut firewood.

When dad had his first car a little Ford Popular and when worked the day shift, he would come home from work on Saturday afternoon ready to put his feet up with his paper only to find mum had other plans, biscuit tins full of sandwiches and National Health orange diluted in lemonade bottles, dad was not putting his feet up, mum had other plans,

“I thought since it’s such a nice day you could take us for a run”

We all would squeeze in and off we would go,

“Where’re we going, dad?” I would ask

“Up to the highlands,” he replied

After a long trip into the hills, I asked

“When will we get to the highlands?”

“We are in the Highlands” He replied

“But there are nothing here but hills” I retorted.

Yet today when I saw the mist lifting off the hills I thought of that trip to the highlands, in dad’s Ford Pop.    

 My pilgrimage days are well behind me now but I am still instinctively drawn to churches, I suppose that having learned so much about ecclesiastical architecture over the years – knowledge begets knowledge. So yes I did visit the highest waterfall in Germany, the biggest cuckoo clock in the world, and the museum of one thousand cuckoo clocks, but the story that intrigued me was that of Maria in der Tanne, a small baroque church just outside the town. The story goes that in 1644 a young girl was cured of eye disease by the water of a nearby spring. Soon after a local tailor was reputed to have been cured of leprosy by washing in the same spring, and as an offering, the tailor placed a small statue of Mary in the cavity of a fir tree. From this comes the name of the church – Mary in the Fir. The statue was lost over time, then years later rediscovered by three Tyrolean soldiers in or around 1700. A small wooden chapel was built, and later a larger stone church, finally the one we see today, built by pilgrims. The Main baroque altar by J.A. Schupp in 1705 is very over the top the church must have had some very affluent patrons with very deep pockets.

At Martinskapelle chapel I came across a car park and a footpath that lead me some 50 meters to the source of the Danube.

When I rode the Loire River from its sours to the sea, I found the sours to be like the start of most rivers, no matter their eventual might, to be a watershed. The Loire had seven sources arranged around a volcanic plug, one was chosen as the official source.

The Danube is formed by the coming together of the Brigach and the Breg just east of Donaueschingen. The source of the Donabach which flows into the Danube at Donaueschingen is often referred to as the source of the Danube; however, the Breg is the larger of the two streams and springs at a higher altitude so you pay your money and you take your choice. Politics, and I’m sure the old boys’ network, in the end, won out, the government of the Baden-Wurttemberg were persuaded to uphold Donaueschingen’s claim so now ‘officially’ Furtwangen should no longer be labelled Donauquelle on official maps. However, since I would be visiting both on my sojourn none of this really matters.

Bregquelle, to my mind, is the true source of the Danube River, it is only a rock-lined basin in a meadow close to Kolmenhof; however, it did have a plaque stating the Source of the River Danube, good enough for me. 

Furtwangen is the first town you come to after leaving the Bregquelle so the first town on the Danube. The town’s long tradition of making high-quality clocks and musical boxes goes all the way back to the 19th century and has left the town with a legacy of craftsmanship that is still carried on, and updated today, in the work at the universities departments of microelectronics and precision engineering. I was fascinated with the town’s clock and watch museum, before pressing on into Donaueschingen for my stopover.

Donaueschingen sits astride the Brigach and is the seat of the Furstenberg family all the way back to the 13th century. Their residence is the Schloss Furstenberg palace built-in 1723, remodelled in 1893 – 1896 in the neo-baroque style that we see today. On the grounds of the palace and adjacent, St Johann parish church was where I found the large ornamental marble monument marking the “official” source of the Danube.

The Furstenberg family have long been associated with, and patrons of the arts and a major contemporary music festival, is held in the town every autumn. In the centre of town is a large bronze fountain featuring a group of musicians, reflecting the town’s association with music.

I had booked a hotel in advance and the most expensive of the journey, but then beggars can’t be choosers when you are in an area like this. I booked in, found my room and after dropping my gear, I stripped and headed for the bathroom, ‘magic’ a real bath. All accommodation for the elderly has walk-in showers, no baths. Yet something I use to love was a good soak in a bath. When I lived in a flat in Edinburgh we had no bath or shower for that matter, we used the communal baths just a few yards down the street. The baths were massive you could wash a whole family in them and for me pure luxury to soak away the day’s labours.  

Money, money, money must be funny living in a rich man’s world.

With the rain still, a constant drizzle so I shan’t be doing much outdoors maybe just a walk around town under an umbrella, and another early night.

Stay safe.

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