Cobbled streets. Glühwein. Bratwursts. These are the words which sum up my experience in Germany most fittingly.
I have lived in Freiburg in Breisgau (a city nestled in the Black Forest, close to the borders with Switzerland and France) for 4 months now. The city has grown incredibly close to my heart, and I am sure it will remain one of my favourite places for a long time to come. What makes me say this? Well, everything.
When I first arrived in Freiburg in late August/early September, the warm sun was still shining over the city throughout the day. Known as the ‘sunniest city in Germany’, it didn’t disappoint.
My days consisted of cycle rides down the River Dreisam in summer dresses, meeting friends for a drink by the Stadttheater, and going for sunny walks into the Black Forest.
Once the cold weather from the Alps moved in, Freiburg remained lovely but adapted itself to the harsh winter that was to come. As the days became shorter and the Christmas season came in, my love for the place grew stronger. Although the pandemic cut short some of the festivities like the famous Freiburg Christmas markets, the place didn’t fail to impress. With countless glasses of glühwein and infinite portions of bratwursts and schnitzel (a thin slice of meat, usually chicken, served with chips and vegetables) to enjoy, Christmas in Freiburg was divine.
The city has such a bustling atmosphere, there is always something happening, whether it be a concert taking place in the Konzerthaus, people cycling around with their children or live music in the centre of town. It truly does make for a special city.
Something else which I especially admire about Freiburg is that it aims to become a completely carbon-neutral, sustainable and eco-friendly city. It has come a long way towards this goal: the new football stadium for SC Freiburg uses solar-powered energy to power the games, cyclers take priority over cars on the road and there are many food-sharing stations around the city. Food-sharing has exploded in popularity around the world as a way to limit food waste and ensure people are able to access lots of different types of food locally. Freiburg has succeeded greatly in this task. You don’t have to walk far to come across a lebensmittel stand where fresh produce is being shared and given away.
As my time in Germany is coming to a close and I am beginning to prepare for the second half of my year abroad, during which I will travel to Paraguay, I look back at my time here fondly. The somewhat small and not well-known city has become such an important place for me and I would encourage everyone to visit it themselves.
Image: Sophia Graham