Freiburg

A university town.  City of bicyclists.  City of trees, of Bächli und Gässli, surrounded by mountains. A city that divides its trash and returns glass bottles for refunds.   A city of graffiti and art museums, sculptures and numberless advertisements, announcements, placards, petitions and message boards.   With men and women in medieval and renaissance garb giving theatrical historic tours, carrying lighted lamps and telling the old stories.  City of trains and Strassenbahnen, Peugots and Volkswagens.   City of lecturers and small theaters with packed audiences and poetry readings and concerts.  City of a thousand tiny cafes, international students  and tourists.  Indian restaurants, Turkish cafes, Italian gelatarias, German bakeries, and street conversations in all tongues.  City of the blue steel bridge over the Bahnhof, where the students sit, high on the arches, slouching against each other like lovers, drinking beer out of bottles like derelicts, swinging their legs like children.  Beggars and bums and street musicians, vagrants and punks, hipsters and drunks.  Provincial and intellectual, hectic with a predictable rhythm, and everywhere, everywhere bicycles.  Except the Fußgängerzone.

So we got to know Freiburg through city tours, through evening strolls, through long afternoon lunches and mornings lingering over coffee and newspapers.   Through tall glasses beer on the Schlossberg, shopping of a morning in the Marktplatz, and through the cobblestones under our feet we got to know this old town.  This place where people came because it was a free city, where you could work and maybe things would be better.

And we got to know Freiburg through the street musicians who play accordions and flutes, violins and guitars, who sing without asking, who offer their hard-won talent without introduction, but appear as suddenly as birds.  Unbidden and lovely.  To whom belong all the change in my pockets.  Sing to me again.

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