Fringe Box



Great Fun Had By All On Twin City Visit

Published on: 4 Aug, 2012
Updated on: 20 Aug, 2012

Participants report on an enjoyable trip to Guildford’s twin city (Guildford, of course, is still  a town) by members Guildford-Freiburg Association…

The visitors pose around the Guildford Mosaic in Freiburg

Twenty one members and friends of the Guildford-Freiburg Association recently returned from a very enjoyable coach trip to Freiburg, Guildford’s twin city for the past 33 years, world famous for its environmental achievements.  In 2010 it was named as “European City of the Year” by the UK’s Academy of Urbanism.

Freiburg Cathedral

The group stayed right in the centre of the city’s pedestrianised old town, a stone’s throw from the magnificent 14th century Gothic cathedral. They were welcomed by one of Freiburg’s city councillors at a reception in the Town Hall, when he gave a charming speech in English, without notes. There was also a friendly welcome from old friends in the Freiburg Anglo-German Club.

Freiburg Town Hall

There followed four days of activities in and around the city. A tour around the fascinating old town provided orientation to those in the group who had not been before. It included a visit to the cathedral’s workshop to hear about the on-going repairs to the building’s fabric and to watch stonemasons exercising their skills in remaking worn parts of the building.

A cable car trip gives views over the whole area

Some people visited the beautifully renovated Augustiner Museum, with its wonderful collection of mediaeval art and sculpture, and, as a contrast, the city’s Modern Art Gallery. A journey by chair-lift took the group to the top of Schauinsland, Freiburg’s local mountain, with its fine views over the city and the Rhine valley and a close-up look at two of the city’s wind turbines. Short walks into the Black Forest whetted people’s appetite for future longer stays.

A ‘home zone’ in the eco-friendly Vauban district

No trip to Freiburg would be complete without a visit to Vauban, one of the world-famous eco-friendly neighbourhoods in the city, with its 5000 inhabitants. The group heard how all the houses are built to a low energy consumption standard with many fitted with photovoltaic solar panels, with surplus electricity sold into the city’s grid. The development is connected to the rest of the city by a frequent tram service – just one example of Freiburg’s superb public transport.

Bikes are a favoured method of transport

About 70% of Vauban’s residents have chosen to live without a car and of course cycling is a favoured means of transport, as it is elsewhere in the city and its surroundings. The group agreed that Guildford could learn environmental lessons from Vauban and indeed from the whole of Freiburg, the “Green City”.

The visit to a nearby vineyard

The area round Freiburg is famous for its excellent Baden wine and the group paid a visit to a local vineyard, where the wine is grown and produced using organic methods. After tasting a few of the wines, all were agreed on the excellence of the product and several cases of it were loaded on to the coach. There were other opportunities to try the local wines as the annual Freiburg wine festival was in progress – a very lively and colourful event held in the cathedral square.

Freiburg is on the edge of the Black Forest and the group visited three villages in the forest – St Peter and St Märgen, both with beautiful Baroque churches, and the charming lakeside resort of Titisee where one or two members bought cuckoo clocks. A few people went on a guided walk in the same area. The final evening of the visit was another highlight, spent enjoying an excellent meal in a restaurant overlooking the city with members of the Freiburg Anglo-German Club who had arranged this year’s event to be a celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee.

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Peter Slade, Chairman of the Guildford-Freiburg Association and tour leader, for whom this was the thirteenth visit to Freiburg commented: “This trip was another opportunity for Guildfordians to sample the delights of our twin city. Once again we experienced the warmth of the friendship and hospitality that we always find when we are there. Guildford is lucky to be twinned with such a lovely city, environmentally-friendly and with a terrific buzz.”

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