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My Black Forest - Antea and Frans Fourie-Van Zyl from Standerton, South Africa

Federal State Baden-Württemberg

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Discover Germany accompanied Antea and Frans Fourie-Van Zyl from Standerton, South Africa. Twenty years ago, Antea worked as an au pair for a family that lives near Pforzheim. Since then she’s loved the northern Black Forest, and because she never lost contact with the family she worked for, she often visits them.

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The trip begins with a surprise.

Antea Fourie-Van Zyl: "There it is. Just between the trees you can see the white & red of the tower." This is the Büchenbronn observation tower. We go up the stairs with her to see what there is to see.

The Büchenbronn observation tower stands on Büchenbronn Hill, which is 608 metres high and lies to the southeast of the town of the same name.

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The 25-metre high platform provides a splendid view over the northern Black Forest and, weather permitting, even as far as the Palatinate Forest, Odenwald Forest and even the plateau known as the Swabian Alb. The distinctive steel structure with a total of 124 steps was built in 1883, even before the Eiffel Tower, and is now considered an industrial monument.

Antea Fourie-Van Zyl sees the small villages in the midst of the forests and the farms between them with their small fields as typifying the Black Forest.

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So she takes Discover Germany along on a visit to the lower Kapfenhardt mill, or Untere Kapfenhardter Mühle. It was once a typical Black Forest mill, with a water wheel seven metres in diameter. The wheel no longer powers the mill, but it’s still in its old place and has become a tourist attraction. The original building now houses a hotel and restaurant, and the flour mill is in an adjacent building. The hotel restaurant serves regional specialties, hearty meals made with home-grown ingredients. Bread and cakes are made from flour ground in the hotel’s mill. Meat is mainly from home-bred animals and their own butcher’s. The trout caught from the spring-fed ponds are a special delicacy.

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We go on to the Monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul in Hirsau. Antea Fourie-Van Zyl says, "This was built in 1091 – a long time ago."

The Benedictine abbey on the banks of the River Nagold was one of the most important medieval German monasteries and the largest Romanesque ecclesiastical building. The monastery began its decline in the 12th century, and with the Protestant Reformation it passed into Lutheran hands. In the late 16th century, the Dukes of Württemberg built a renaissance château on the grounds. The once famous abbey was burnt down during the War of Palatine Succession. All that is left of the basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul is a thirty-six metre high tower, but even the ruins of the monastery are still impressive. As Antea Fourie-Van-Zyl says, "If you look up, you can see the clouds moving."

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Now we are in Calw, with its lovely half-timbered buildings. Antea Fourie-Van Zyl thinks they’re the most beautiful in Germany. "They are very old. They are never the same.
Each of them has its own personality."

Calw is proud to be the birthplace of the writer Hermann Hesse. Exploring the narrow alleyways and stairs is a delight. Shopping, strolling, relaxing and enjoying cultural highlights all go together in Calw. The small shops, cafes, galleries and pubs blend harmoniously into the historical walls and half-timbered houses in the old town centre.

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Just a few steps from the market square, the town forest leads almost seamlessly into the surrounding Black Forest.

Antea and Frans Fourie-Van Zyl continue their stroll through the Calw, enjoying the atmosphere. They’ll certainly return, the next time they visit the Black Forest.

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