University towns: Freiburg

View from Schlossberg, above the city of Freiburg

I've lived in college towns most of my life, I realized this afternoon, walking back through the Altstadt through a mix of returning students, locals, and tourists.

College and university towns are special places, often with a more progressive feel than the surrounding areas, whether they're famous public university cities (like Berkeley, Ann Arbor, or Cambridge) or small college towns in the southern United States.  I've lived in both sorts and now live in an eclectic, progressive southern city not particularly defined by its small university and local college, but which nevertheless has the feel of one.

View from Schlossberg
None of the university towns where I've lived before had views quite like this.  Lovely.

You can see the "winter garden" up on top of our HomeExchange apartment with a click through to a larger image -- it's the glass-enclosed space in the center of the photo marked by the green circle -- a wonderful place to enjoy.

It's striking to be in Freiburg, home to one of Germany's oldest universities.  It's the epitome of a progressive European university town, with a strong claim to being the most environmentally-friendly city in Germany, with a push toward solar, encouragement for biking, green attitudes, etc.

I've seen more bicyclists here than anywhere else I've lived or visited, with perhaps the exception of Amsterdam.  And they're committed to year-round bicycling, too, as commuters and shoppers, not just fair-weather jaunts for exercise.  And, they're people of all ages, too, from elders to children who don't look old enough to be able to ride efficiently, but they do.

Visiting Freiburg's citizen service center outside the Altstadt found us marveling at its architecture: on the south and western sides of the building, the wooden panels are replaced by solar ones. Remarkable.
Freiburg's citizen service center
Hopefully, we'll be seeing more of these kinds of designs in the U.S., too.   I've seen other examples of innovative ways to incorporate solar panels in buildings elsewhere, including an apartment building down the street.  There are already solar panels everywhere on roofs.

The bicycle shop around the corner seems to cater to the multitude of folks who have city bikes with simple maintenance requirements.  The bike my gardening companion has been enjoying riding is a sturdy example -- a solid 3-speed with handle and pedal brakes, quite different than his road bike at home, but fun, regardless. 

The corner bike shop