It’s been an economic power, the heart of a silver mining community, flattened in multiple wars and more recently, been one of the greenest cities in Europe but to me Freiburg will always be the place where Bani was called an asshoole by a angry cyclist.
After a breathtaking drive through the Black Forest, a job interview and fixing the van I was in a fantastic mood as we rolled into the city in the south west of Germany, a mood galvanised by the realisation that the following day was the first that I didn’t have to drive, leaving me free to fully enjoy the finest Germanic beer the pubs had to offer.
Heading straight into the centre we strolled through the labyrinthine streets and past the staggering cathedral before ending up at a traditional watering hole in one of the many squares. Enjoying the laid back service in the sunny old town the beers went down easily as we settled in for the afternoon.
Several pints and a few bowls of chips later Bani was doing time trials to see how quickly he could put his nose in all four provided sauces and deliberating the deliciousness of fried potato goods. Deciding to head back to the van for dinner before returning back into the town at more acceptable time to be face painting with ketchup we walked back along the stream to the van. Along what is a very popular cycle route into the heart of the city, as well as a local favourite cooling off spot on the small banks, Bani’s staggering walking got him on the wrong end of a foul mouthed cyclist. Unable to plot a a straight route along side the river he decided to try and walk off the previous beers by elongating the trip as he meandered a winding course across the road. These unusual walking patterns came much to the surprise of an overtaking lady who’s unfortunate path was cut up by the swaying student, leading to an angry swerve out the way and the retort of labelling Bani as an “asshoole”. Quite the unexpected reaction from a seemingly docile and passive elderly woman, who cycled off in frustration.
Deciding we needed a few more steins we returned to our new favourite bar, taking the safer, cyclist avoiding tram. After a few more drinks and bowls of chips we ventured off into the streets again to see what late night entertainment Frieberg had to offer. As we walked past the main square we slowly realised that everyone was sat down and our fatigued legs suggested that we joined in. Surprisingly, Freiburg has quite the breakdancing scene and the group which took over the square for their practice had granted us front row seats to step up 2. Bani was enjoying it so much he’d thought he’d let them know and tried to show his appreciation. Strolling up the group he drew their attention, as well as the sizeable crowds. After a few words with the group he then tried to give them some money for their hard work. This group however, were no buskers. They were just practicing for a competition and didn’t want any money, and instead rejected Bani’s kind offer and sent him dejectedly back to me, looking like a bit of an asshoole.
The next morning our sore heads, and Bani’s sore pride were dutifully restored by the city that caused the mornings suffering. Before we could even muster the energy required to cook ourselves some breakfast a white van pulled up and out hopped a German family asking if we were hungry. Stocked full of foods that had reached the end of their shelf life, they filled up our cupboards with all kinds of fruits and vegetables and some worryingly smelly yoghurts before telling us all about food sharing. All good germans are typically spot on with their recycling, but small groups have taken it to the next level and take any food that is still good from shops who no longer need it on their shelves and then give it away to anyone who wants it. The food sharing movement is a growing trend across Germany and whilst saving tonnes of food wastage, it also helps nurse the hangovers of travellers.