As I am sure everyone knows, Germany is the country of perfection. An intricate network of highways and impeccable roads connect all its cities, every historical landmark is properly highlighted and every little piece of nature is arranged so that anyone can enjoy it. It would seem pretty hard to get lost in it with so much perfection all around. But here we are, breaking the rules once again. Getting lost was exactly how we started our short summer trip to Frankenjura. Somewhere after Nuremberg, despite the lovely sunny weather outside, our vision got cloudier by the minute. With one huge topo and a GPS that was not working, the town we were looking for was nowhere to be found on our roadmap. And the adventure began. Not only did we get lost on the streets of Forchhheim, but we were nearly trapped there, not knowing how to get out of the city. Nobody spoke English and we had to follow directions given in a frantic sign language mixed with some German words out of which the only thing we could understand was “raus” (out). It was in this rhythm that we passed through some gorgeous valleys and by colorful traditional timber-framed houses. Despite the fact that we did not know where we were, it really felt as if we were driving right past paradise. And just as we were giving up hope, we finally read the magic word on a small signpost, Obertrubach.
During the week that followed, time miraculously dilated and it seemed as if we spend weeks rather than days with all the new information we were trying to digest, the lovely places we’ve visited and the lands we explored. We climbed as much as we possibly could, but we also made time to pay a short visit to some of the nearby cities, Nuremberg, Forchheim, Pottenstein and, of course, Obertrubach, our primary base camp during our trip. We tasted so many beer varieties, tried different crags, ate delicious homemade cake, which was sold at almost every corner, and we simply let ourselves get carried away by the serene atmosphere around.
Also known as Fränkische Schweiz, meaning Franconian Switzerland, Frankenjura is an incredibly picturesque area to say the least, characterized by forest-covered hills, smooth flowing valleys, dream-like little villages, castles and, of course, over 10,000 sport climbing routes. Hansel and Gretel, if they ever existed, I’m sure it was through these mesmerizing woods that they got lost and found the enchanted candy house. While it may have been nothing more than a trap for the two kids, we found our very own candy house in the forests at Frankenjura and it was a tasty bite of heaven on which we greedily feasted. It is a huge touristic and climbing area, bordered by Bamberg to the northwest, Bayreuth to the northeast and Nuremberg to the south. You will find plenty of guesthouses, or Gasthof in German, apartments for rent and campsites.
We did not imagine the impact Frankenjura would have on us. Here I am, two weeks after returning home, with my heart and mind still trapped in those labyrinthine woods. When I first heard about the area, some small crags in the middle of the forest, I immediately imagined mosquitoes and damp. I couldn’t have been more wrong in my life. Luckily, some spark of wisdom hit me and got curious to see what was there. Crystal-clear rivers gently flowing down narrow valleys, never ending forests, Wolfgang Gullich, the first 9a route ever climbed in history, the birthplace of the “redpoint,” and cake, castles, private breweries, or Privatbrauerei in German, beer gardens, or Biergarten, schnitzel, weissbier, or hefeweizen, or simply ask for “Weizen”… Did I leave anything out? These are the emblems of Frankenjura and they are quite tasty and intriguing I might say, inviting you to explore their every side and climb up each and every one of the bizarre limestone formations piercing the skies, found at every corner, as if they sprung up out of nowhere like mushrooms after the rain.
Stay tuned for more Frankenjura adventures!