Buses, Beers, Babes and the Black Forest- part two

So there we were, two wee lasses sitting outside a train station in the extreme South of Germany, wondering whether we were the victims of a pretty good practical joke.  We were waiting to be waiting to be picked up by Bens and Sebastian, our friends from Prague who’d invited us to come stay with them in the Black Forrest.  Finally, an hour or so after we arrived, (having traveled via three trains with some pretty impressive hangovers) we got a text message saying Bens was in hospital, having taken a corker to the head while playing soccer.

I didnt know I looked so good in yellow


While Bens went to sleep off his concussion, Sebastian took us to meet his mum and dad in their 600 year old home in Wolfach. Not only did his mum cook us the best meal we have had since Vincy’s in Hungary, she got us dress up in the traditional carnival gear for their town.  Each town across this region has a week long carnival, where everyone participates in various parades and activities.  Wolfach has 7 characters and participants adopt a character for the carnival.  The costumes are amazing (Sebastian’s sister hand-made his and it took her 18 months!!) It’s such a contrast to Australia, which doesn’t have such traditions and 1000 year old communities (at least not any more!)

Bens, Devine, Sparkles & Sebastian


After dinner, Sebastian took us to his flat in Balingen, and for the next two days we were treated like princesses, including the use of his car while he was at work, apples and bakery treats. He also casually mentioned that Balingen is home to Europe’s largest saddlery store- and it was HUGE- (like Bunnings for horse nerds).  Intoxicated, we drooled our way around the store for hours- and the only way I know it was all real was that I now have some beautiful, long, oh so sexy leather riding boots in my cupboard.

The store’s one English speaking assistant was very patient, and she needed to be, because it turns out that one of my legs is 2cm skinnier than the other (it’s a miracle  I can run straight!) This makes fitting boots that are very fitted, quite tricky.  By making some small compromises, (which included wearing 2 socks on the left leg and losing circulation in the right), I found the new loves of my life.

Day two, and we decided that as part of our European riding tour, we should get on a horse again. Yep, that would be twice in 4 weeks (and yes, my buttocks recovered from Hungary, thank you!)  We eventually found an amazing quarter horse farm near Sebastian’s and were taken out on a wonderful ride in the Black Forest. Our guide, Sven, (“Sunny”) hadn’t spoken English for over 10 years, but did an excellent job, and we laughed and chatted as we rode in the sparkling sunshine, surrounded by a haze trees and blossoms, with a genuine Grimm’s brothers looking castle high on the top of a hill in the distance.

Sparkles & Devine riding Europe

Sparkles & Devine Riding Europe

We only had one language breakdown of any importance- I thought Sunny told us that he was a singer.  I said “Oh really? (with delight)  Can you sing us something?” and he said “Yes, for about 6 months now.  But I have my horses and my dog”.  Awwwkwaarrrd.

Hohenzollern Castle

We reluctantly left Sunny and the horses, and headed to the aforementioned castle.  It sits on the top of a hill, and as we walked up to it through the trees, it felt as if it could be Sherwood Forest, and men with trumpets (and very revealing tights) could ride past at any moment.

The castle was originally built in the 12th century, but burnt down and was rebuilt several times.  Ironically, while this castle looks just like the medieval castle of your (Disney inspired) imagination, its most recent rebuild was during the 19th century in the medieval style- the exact reverse of Prague Castle (See Clocks,Czechs,Castles and Chiwawas).

That armor can't have been too friendly on the goolies...

Enjoying sunshine, castle views and treats from the medeavil kiosk


Remodel or no- I thought it was brilliant, like being in a fairy tale.  The only downside was, to get in the castle’s interior, you had to take a tour- which was in German.  Ya. I may not have mentioned yet that neither Aimee or myself know any German save for ‘strudel’ and ‘guten tag’, so we just smiled and nodded a lot, and made up our own commentary.  We did get a couple of strange looks as we took slightly inappropriate photos by the display of medieval suits of armor.

With still a few more days until we needed to be in Spain for our month at the Natural Horse Riding Centre, we were contacted by our friend Ron (of Summer Camp fame) to come visit him in Amsterdam.  Being at liberty to do so, we discussed the possibility for a good 5 minutes, before deciding it was a great idea.

Europe being what it is, there was an overnight train from Stuttgart to Amsterdam at just the right time, and all too soon Sebastian was driving us to Stuttgart (on the condition that we got dinner at a pub that was showing an extremely important soccer game).   We bid our kind host goodbye and reflected on how someone we didn’t even know  2 weeks earlier had affected the whole course of our holiday!*

Station bums...


The train left at 1.30am so we let Sebastian go home, and for a couple of hours Aimee and I were ‘those’ people again… this time sleeping on a bench on the platform til the train arrived.  The youth of Stuttgart were very friendly though- one offering me some of his kebab (an actual kebab people!) and another walked up and handed me a mobile phone to talk to some guy on the other end, which made for an interesting chat. (“Ya der Strudel?” I think I said)

Stuttgart Train station, circa 1am





Finally, the train pulled into the station and we piled our gear on and looked forward to first sleeping, and then waking up in Amsterdam and seeing our friend Ron.  But that is a whole and other story.

Bye for now

S.P. Arkles


* I stayed in touch with Sebastian and his lovely parents.  Sebastian recently visited Australia, and I shared our culture- AFL (Brisbane Lions getting thrashed- Carn the Blues!), including a visit to the nearby German Club, the Sunshine Coast beaches, the Eastern most point of Oz (Byron Bay) and introduced him to the best band this country has even seen- Art vs Science!

About The Tina Sparkles Experience

Apparently, there are people who go traveling and just see things and nothing weird happens. I'm not one of those people....come on holiday with me and find out why!

One Response to “Buses, Beers, Babes and the Black Forest- part two”

  1. Great story Sparkles, but STILL no mention of the Black Forest cake… Maybe in Part 3??? 🙂

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