With fewer than two weeks left of my study-abroad program, I think I should dedicate this entry to the lovely city of Freiburg. I realize I haven’t written much about Freiburg because I spend so much time traveling, and I don’t want to lead my readers to believe that I don’t like Freiburg, because that isn’t true.
Let me take you on a tour of this quaint little city nestled in the heart of the Black Forest. When you’re walking toward the city center from my apartment, you’ll pass by a few local bakeries and grocery stores in the first five minutes of the trek. You’ll walk over what we call the Blue Bridge, which is directly above the central station. Once the temperature is above 15 degrees Celsius — or 59 degrees Fahrenheit — you’ll see teenagers and college students perched up on top of the bridge, eating their lunches or blasting music from their smartphones and iPods.
One thing to be on the lookout for is cyclists. Freiburg is filled with them. They zip by from every possible direction, and they won’t stop for you. You’ll play a game of “dodge the bike” at least two or three times a day.
As you approach the outskirts of the city center you’ll see the Stadttheater: the city performing arts theater. Next to it you’ll see a row of cafes and small restaurants. At the end of the row of cafes, closest to the Stadttheater, you’ll find one of my favorite places in town, called Portofino. It’s a cafe and, most importantly, a gelato shop. Portofino has more than 25 house-made flavors, and some of my favorites are passion fruit, mango, dark chocolate and baccio, which tastes like Nutella with chopped-up tree nuts mixed in. The best part about Portofino is that each scoop of gelato is only 1 euro, which is about $1.08. You’ll see lines out the door when the weather is warm, usually including a few people from my program.
The closer you get to the city center, you’ll notice the sidewalks are made of cobblestone. Although my shin splints have flared up a few times and my hips are probably unaligned from having to walk on the uneven surfaces, it is the quintessential feature to any old European city.
When you reach downtown, you’ll hear the dinging of the trams as the main lines intersect one another and warn pedestrians to get out of the way. On either side of the street between the road and the sidewalk, you’ll see shallow streams that look like miniature canals. They’re called Bachle and were built to cool off the city during warmer months. Legend has it that if you accidentally fall into a Bachle, you’ll marry a Freiburger. Despite how clumsy I am, I haven’t fallen into a Bachle yet, so I guess I won’t be marrying a Freiburger.
The true spectacle in the city center is the Munsterplatz, which translates to Cathedral Plaza. Six days a week there is a farmers market in the Munsterplatz filled with fresh vegetable and fruit stands, handmade utensils, beautiful flowers and, most importantly, bratwurst stands. You can get a delicious bratwurst sandwich with caramelized onions and curry ketchup for 2.50 euros, which is something I’ll miss dearly.
In a few weeks’ time I’ll leave Freiburg and have to say goodbye to its charm. I’ve loved almost every minute of my stay here, but I’m not done in Europe quite yet. I have accepted an internship with the European Union Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, for the summer. My European adventures will continue in the so-called European capital, but I will never forget Freiburg and my experiences here.