If you associate Germany entirely with autobahns and wurst, Freiburg will surprise you.
It’s known as the most ecologically conscious city in Germany. There are tons, TONS of bikes. In neighboring villages, solar panels plaster the roofs. Today it’s raining, but people are still cycling—many protected by special ponchos that cover their handlebars and hands.
Freiburg’s Jazz & Rock Schulen has been a Berklee partner school for over a decade. The Berklee study-abroad program there, however, is only four semesters old. Not that you’d be able to tell: The JRS’s International Music College has only 92 students, so the Berklee visitors really have a home here.
The school takes up a total of four floors in two arts buildings plus a freestanding auditorium—far more cozy than Berklee’s ever-expanding campus. But the walls have neon graffiti and photos of luminaries who have performed there. Young men with blonde dreadlocks sat listening to a theory lesson. The sound of furiously played drums escaped from a basement practice room. In other words, it felt very familiar.
I promised not to take pictures today, so as not to publicize the rare bout of bad weather in this most Tuscan of German cities. Here are yesterday’s tourist shots instead.
Freiburg is a historic city at the corner of Germany, France, and Switzerland, with a big college and a gorgeous old downtown. People crowded the Christmas market, particularly the mulled booze and crepe/waffle stands.
Though most everyone seems to speak some English, from my first meal it was clear I needed to review menu German. Fortunately I recognized “feldsalat,” and “kartoffle” as being Deutscheland specialties, the former recommended by Berklee international programs honcho Amanda. I ended up with an entirely delicious soup-and-salad lunch.
That’s potato (kartoffle) soup with feldsalat, a German green that goes by different names in different parts of the country, JRS artistic director Bernhard Hofmann told me today. I found some growing wild on the Schlossberg, the site of the city’s long-ago destroyed hilltop fortress.
That hill is steep. And yet older couples walked up there. I saw all these joggers, and people on mountain bikes. These guys are FIT. Hopefully this picture gives you an idea of the steepness.Looking at these photos has made me hungry, so I’m off to the Goethe Institut dorms to meet the students for a traditional dinner. Oh, this post’s subject line? It’s apparently what you say here instead of “my treat” or “it’s on us.” The JRS staff members are incredibly helpful and hospitable.
More news as events warrant—