Today was a German holiday: the 3rd of October is the day we celebrate the reunification of Germany in 1990. In Pakistan this was usually a special day for us – here in Germany I often feel that people don’t think much about it, its just a day off work. I had spontaneously gone to visit my brother Sunday evening and wanted to head back to Freiburg today after lunch. The train wasn’t too full, despite the holiday – but we ended up getting stuck in a small town called Efringen-Kirchen, about 60km away from Freiburg. I seriously considered cycling home…but was discouraged by the fact that I had no food and hardly any water and all the shops would be closed. In the end, after waiting for about half an hour, we were informed that our train could not continue and we would have to get off and wait for the next train, due in about 30minutes. I took my bike and decided to explore Efringen-Kirchen. I soon realised that everything was indeed closed – not that there were many shops to start with, but both the bakery and the one or two other shops I passed by were shut. I saw a sign saying “Istein 2km” and figured I might as well enjoy the sunny day going to the next station by bike instead of waiting around. I had always wondered about Istein – going this way by train countless times I always heard the town announced over the loud speakers when we stopped, but I had never visited the place. It didn’t take me long to reach the little town and it struck me as quite pretty – lots of vineyards, beautiful little half-timbered houses and the backdrop of a hill with large boulders and cliff-like rocks. It reminded me of some of the landscapes I had seen in the Danube valley.
I stopped to take a picture and shortly after spotted some people going for a walk in a small graveyard. Right behind them was a little chapel, up in the cliff. I parked my bike and climbed up some stairs to check it out – a sign informing me that I had discovered the 150m high limestone rock “Isteiner Klotz” and the small chapel of Saint Veith, apparently dating back to the 12th century. (Sorry, I didn’t actually take a picture of the chapel…next time)
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It was pretty fascinating, although the way to the top of the rock was closed off and part of the area designated a nature reserve, so I couldn’t actually climb up to the cliffs or go into some of the caves. I had to be content with looking inside the little prayer chapel and enjoying the view of the rocky hill from below. After a few minutes I returned to my bike and made my way to the Isteiner train station to catch the next train to Freiburg. This time the train was extremely full and we had to figure out a way to fit rather a lot of bikes in a small space…but most people were in a good mood, despite the inconvenience of the cancelled train. When I mentioned my unsuccessful attempt to buy food a lady even offered me a Landjäger  🙂 What happy misfortune, that a train malfunction led to a beautiful bike ride, discovering a pretty new place and meeting friendly people on this holiday. Happy 3rd of October everyone  😀

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