Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wander in the Woods

As a small town girl who loves the outdoors, I must admit that city living is a great experience that unfortunately leaves me a little homesick for the woods and wild.  So I was extremely pleased when I first learned about the German tradition of Familien Sonntagsspaziergang which translates to family walk on Sunday.  Reading about it is one thing, but seeing the woods on a Sunday or holiday is astonishing.

When my in-laws visited back in October we had our first encounter with this concept.  First, it's important to note that in Germany most places are closed on Sundays, with the exception of restaurants and loud noises (i.e. cutting the grass, loud music, etc) are not allowed.  All work is done on Saturdays leaving Sundays strictly for leisure.  I love this custom!

So without map or any real idea where we were headed the four of us piled into the car, punched in a location on the GPS and headed up to the Taunus mountain region to go for a hike.  Since it was a holiday, the number of cars we saw was not that surprising, we found a parking spot and headed up the trail soaking up the sunshine.  After walking the trail about 40 minutes we came to a plateau with a few buildings and lots of people...hmmm...interesting we thought as we approached.  Then as the signs were visible - we realized that these little places were restaurants selling beer, brots, and kuchen (cake).  We felt as though we were in heaven....a nice walk in the woods and stumbling upon food and refreshments, which was perfect as we had not yet had lunch.

After fueling up our bellies we headed back down to the car.  Again not exactly knowing where we were going once in the car, we decided to keep driving up the hill.  The higher we ascended the more cars we saw.  Eventually there were cars along both sides of the road and once we reached the top of the Feldberg (highest mountain in the Taunus at 878 meters) there were literally people and cars covering every open surface making it difficult to maneuver a vehicle.  The number of people was simply jaw dropping.  Back home people generally are just not this active.  Well, that was our first experience of a wander in the woods here.

Last Sunday I woke up with an urge to escape the city, to walk in the dirt not on cobblestones, to see towering trees not endless buildings, and to breath fresh clean air not the exhaust of thousands of cars.  So we went for a wander in the woods, thought we were lost for a bit and then after two hours found our way back to our car.  A perfect day!

Although, I had the need to get out of the city, I must at least say that Frankfurt is very livable city with many huge parks - a handful within walking distance from our flat - and lots of trees for a big city.  The Taunus mountains are only a 30 minute drive away and beautiful with great views of the region.  So far a great place to live and play.          

I love Familien Sonntagsspaziergang!