top five friday

Hello friends! Happy Friday!!! You know what they say about Fridays… you gotta get down. Also, they are fun fun fun fun. Also, everybody’s looking forward to the weekend. (Why yes, I did just make a Rebecca Black reference. Or three. Go ahead, judge me.)

Anyway, I’ve been thinking… it’s time to kick off Top Five Friday, which will hopefully become a regular installment! “Top Five” because I like alliteration, although I don’t want to copy my dear friend Kayla’s Top Ten Tuesday, partly because I don’t think I can come up with ten things about any given topic (:

So I’ve been in Freiburg for just over a week, and I’ve lived here for just under a week. I figure that by now I have just enough authority to rank my five favorite things about the city, so here goes!

5. The public transportation: This might seem like a strange thing to include in my list. But the public transit here is pretty nifty. As far as I can tell, the greater Freiburg area (if such a thing exists…) is roughly the same size as the greater Austin area. But Freiburg is a whole heckuva lot easier to navigate than Austin, because of the Straßenbahn system. There are 5 different lines that all convene at the Hauptbahnhof (train station) and then branch off in their respective directions. I take Line 1 from my dorm to the city center. Now, I have a confession to make. I am a Schwarzfahrer. I don’t pay for public transit. Eeeeek!!!! I know, I am a terrible person. But don’t judge me too harshly! Very soon, I will do one of two things: a) buy a semester pass, whereby becoming a legitimate public transit user, or b) buy a bike, whereby conforming to the Freiburg way of life. (See #2.)

4. The architecture: Freiburg is an eclectic mix of new and old. Many of the streets and sidewalks, especially in the city center and the Altstadt, are cobbled. The most recognizable landmarks are the Münster (the cathedral, which is currently being renovated) and the Rathaus (city hall), both of which are pretty old, like, hundreds of years old. I love being part of the city’s history just by living here. But there are also modern buildings, gleaming glass windows, wind energy generators in the hills, and lots of solar panels. It’s kind of cool having one foot in the past and one in the future.

3. The history: There are just all kinds of things to learn. For one, the Battle of Britain in WWII was started after a German air strike aiming for France accidentally hit Freiburg. Germany’s leaders blamed it on England and the airstrikes of London began. Interesting, huh? One really cool segment of Freiburg history is the Bächler system, these little… streams? ditches? gutters? I don’t know what to call them exactly.

You can kind of tell that these girls were pulling little sailboats in the Bächler...

But they’re filled with clean, running water and they line all of the sidewalks and roads here. They were originally built to prevent fires… in the case of a fire, the Bächler can be dammed up, flooding the streets and putting out a fire before it can cause much damage. And it works! There hasn’t been a major fire here since the Bächler were built. Just don’t fall into the Bächler.. that means you’re destined to marry a Freiburger. And also that you will have wet shoes.

2. The great outdoors: Freiburg is a very outdoorsy city. Situated in the Schwarzwald (black forest) it is surrounded by beautiful tree-covered hills and kind of has no say in the matter. But Freiburgers are outside!! All the time! There are trails all over the place, and people use ‘em, man! The best are the older men and women who walk around with a walking stick in each hand. I kind of want to buy some. (Walking sticks, not elderly people.) This is also a huge biking city. Almost every walking path is either also a bike path or is right next to a bike path. Downtown, there are more bikes on the roads than cars. It’s a very useful way to get around. As for me, the debate still continues… Straßenbahn or Fahrrad?? Stay tuned.

1. The (street) cuisine: Of course I have to mention the food, because oh my goodness is it delicious! Now, Badisch cuisine is pretty true to “stereotypical” German food… sausage, potatoes, Schnitzel, Spätzle, etc. And beer. Even though Freiburg is more in the wine country. It’s all SO GOOD. But the best thing about food in Freiburg definitely has to be the street culinary culture. Every day on the Münsterplatz, there is an outdoor market and it is the best thing ever. There are farmers selling homegrown produce and flowers, there are merchants selling spices and teas, and most deliciously there are vendors cooking up sausage! The “lange Rote” sausage is a Freiburg classic. It’s served on a roll and you order it “mit oder ohne” (with or without) onions. It is DEEEEELICIOUS. Also, Germany has a really large Turkish population due to the Gästarbeiter initiative that was started after WWII. So there are lots of Turkish places that sell fast, easy, delicious food as well, the most common being Döner: a pita with seasoned Kalbfleisch (beef) or Hähnfleisch (chicken), veggies, a sour cream-type sauce, and lots of spices. And finally, for some reason or another, there are an abundance of Eiscafés (ice cream places) in Freiburg. Which is perfectly fine by me. The ice cream is delicious. And fairly cheap… one kügel (scoop) for 80 cents! There is a particularly good place right across from one of the Straßenbahn stops that I frequent, and I’ll admit that I get probably stop there once a day. The most interesting flavor I’ve had so far is called “Sommer in der Stadt” (summer in the city): lemon ice cream with strawberry sauce and basil leaves. So good. (I realize how much I just wrote about food. But keep in mind that I am also exercising a lot… see #2.)

So there you have it! I realize that there is a lot of writing here for a Top Five list, but hey, I never claimed to be a concise individual.