Familie M. Springmann
Hinter-Ibach 6
Oppenau-Ibach (Schwarzwald)
Tel - 7804/651 ~ Fax - 7804/910430

(Comments, photos and recommendation courtesy of PWilson374)

...Our visit to the Christmas markets in the Black Forest and Alsace was a dream trip for three shopaholic women. My husband's annual elk hunting trip in Colorado provides the perfect excuse for my own trip and it was a gal trip to Germany and Eastern France.

My friend Lois and I arrived in Frankfurt on November 24, picked up our car, and headed south to Stuttgart. My friend Rickey had flown from Atlanta to Stuttgart where we had arranged to meet her. Mission accomplished, we headed further south to the Black Forest. We had reservations for 7 nights (yes! an entire week!) at the Springhansenhof, a bauernhof located between Oppenau and Bad Peterstal in the hamlet of Ibach. We arrived around mid-afternoon and were exuberantly greeted by Frau Springmann and her son and daughter. Frau Springman speaks no English. We speak no Deutsche. However, her daughter was able to translate most of our conversations. Before taking us to our ferienwohnung (apartment), Frau Springmann invited us into her home and served us cherry schnapps. While the schnapps was tasty, it was like drinking white lightning!

We were then escorted to our quarters and shown around the other facilities. Our apartment was very comfortable and roomy, with a large bathroom, pleasant combination living room/kitchen with satellite TV,

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two large bedrooms,

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and a wide balcony overlooking the valley.

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We were also introduced to the pony and sheep.

The farm is definitely a working farm, with large dairy cows in the barn. We readily determined their presence because of the strong odor of eau de moo poo in the air. Thankfully, the strong smell was not present in our quarters. The bauernhof is perched up high on a hillside. I believe winter guests do a good bit of cross-country skiing. There is a nice sauna at the house for guests.

We settled in and unpacked our luggage (how wonderful to unpack for 7 days), then jumped back into the car and headed for the supermarket in Oppenau. Here we purchased provisions for our stay, including some lovely rotwein (Spätburgunder) from Durbach, a nearby town on the Badischen Weinstraße. Then back to our cozy apartment for a light supper and an early turn-in. The night was cold and frosty and blazed with a gazillion stars.

Some highlights of our stay were:

(1) our trip to visit the zum Sternen in Urach;

(2) our visit to the wonderful, wonderful Christmas markets in Strasbourg;

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(3) munching roasted chestnuts at the Christmas market in Freiburg while the vendor teased us about America still not having a President and, of course, sipping hot mulled wine;

(4) dinner at the Café Rebstock in Oppenau, where we twice dined on excellent dinners prepared by chef Jean Luc Ohlman (I highly recommend his café)

(5) a day trip to Stein am Rhein in Switzerland and a lunch of fabulous rósti at the Restaurant Klosterstubli;

Hotel Adler in Stein am Rhein - - - - - Stein am Rhein

(6) the charming walled village of Riquewihr in Alsace and the delicious Alsacian cuisine at Le Tire Bouchon

Pat in Riquewihr - - Riquewihr

(7) dinner with the Springmann family on our last evening at the Springhansenhof, (everything - cheese, butter, wurst, sausage, bread and apple wine - was homemade by Frau Springmann) with lots of after-dinner schnapps (we felt quite schnappy when we went back to our apartment!) Frau Springmann worked from sunup to sundown. She fed the animals, milked the cows, cleaned, scrubbed, made cheese and homemade bread (in a wood-fired oven no less) and goodness only knows what else she did. She was cheerful and exuberant and we were flattered that she invited us to supper in her home. I had brought a bag of shelled pecans from Texas for her. She was surprised and pleased.

Familie Springmann

(8) the huge Christmas market in Stuttgart and dinner at the Paulaner House; and

(9) last but not least, our meeting with Cornelius and his daughter Connie for a pleasant day in Heidelberg.

Pat - Cornelius - Connie in Heidelberg

For those interested in Christmas markets, they begin the first week of Advent. While Strasbourg, Heidelberg, Freiburg and Stuttgart have huge markets, the smaller markets are equally charming.

Lois at an ornament booth

In Strasbourg, you can sip vin chaud (hot mulled wine) and eat crepes. In Heidelberg, try the gluhwein and hot sauerkraut with bacon and onions or roasted potatoes. Stuttgart had so many food stalls it was difficult to decide what to eat. One booth served charcoal grilled fish! It's fun to just stroll around and watch the crowd. In the town of Riquewihr in Alsace, the entire town was decorated. Along the main street shopkeepers would pass out macaroons fresh from the oven to entice customers to buy a dozen. After one bite we were buying dozens. The town is old, very old, with its medieval walls and towers still intact.

Alas, the time passed quickly and soon it was time to go home. We left Heidelberg our last morning (an hour late!!) and just made our flight back to Houston. Our rented Mitsubishi Galant handled the road very well at 200 kph! Poor Lois still has white knuckles.

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