In the early morning we started off on a long hike in the quasi-wilderness, looking towards the highest spot over the small town of Oberried, Germany.

The sky was very blue when it was shining through the cloud cover. While we walked, we could hear the quiet hum of the forest, in chorus with all those morning birds. We walked for hours and hours.

It was cold at times. We walked over snow patches sometimes. It was occasionally warm when the sun came out, and it rained in intervals; soft rain… and then it poured.  We hid in a hunter’s lookout, and shared warm coffee from our thermos.

The journey tried our backs and legs for sure, but filled our spirits.

After our day-long trek we found ourselves at a local Gasthaus named Zum Hirschen. We had just walked into a Sunday-evening dinner with muddy boots and folded up pant-bottoms. The Gasthaus was surprisingly busy, so we found ourselves at the undressed Stammtisch — a table for locals.

We were joined by a local named Manfred, who squeezed in between all of us in our corner. This was a Buffalo Bill-like, elderly man equipped with mustache, short, rugged hair and after a beer or two, we discovered he had an excellent sense of ‘Schwarzwälder‘ humour. There were also a few ladies working at the Gasthaus, as they have for 20+ years. They all looked astonishingly alike, with short dirty blond hair and dressed in Dirndl, which is a type of traditional dress worn in southern Germany, Liechtenstein and Austria, based on the historical clothing of Alpine peasants.

In Austria, you hear that Germans don’t laugh or don’t crack jokes, but once there, you heard them laughing and working with their customers from miles away.

During our weekend adventure we chose to stay at a Bauernhof dated 1665, and which sat on top one of the hills overlooking Oberried. At the Gasthaus we discovered that it was owned by who the locals referred to as “the flowerman,” or otherwise known as Adolf Schweizer, and his wife, Rosa, to whom he’s been married for 65 years.

They were very friendly, but the fact that they spoke the Black-Forest German dialect made us have to strain our ears and brain remarkably hard to understand. On several occasions we ran into the couple usually in the morning as we were heading out — Adolf in a wife-beater t-shirt and Rosa in a well worn sweat suit — themselves ready to continue their day’s work at the Hof. There were no animals at their place, but the large greenhouses nestled between the brook, the fruit trees and the sheep on the hill, was something we were all quite keen on.

We spent a few the days in Oberried but we never got to taste the cake famous in the area called Schwarzwaldkirschtorte, or black-forest cherry cake. The cherries in this region are supposedly delightful, we were told, and we were encouraged to return while the cherries are ripe in the summer, and to have a cake underneath the cherry tree in the backyard.

It is definitely a thought…

During the off season however, the locals suggested we try the cherry schnapps — called a “Willie” by the locals. Whatever that means or refers to, it sent us off dancing into the night, and will probably bring us back to the region in the future.