Sunday, September 16, 2007

Baden-Baden: 2 nights / 1 day

We arrived at 7pm at the train station and had a short 15 minute bus ride into town.

Our hotel was at the top of the hill next to the church.  It was quite a hike after 10 hours on the train.  75 steps at least when I stopped counting up stairs.  But the streets were all cobblestone and narrow.  Since the church bells ring every 15 minutes from 6 am to 10 pm, I was afraid sleeping would be difficult.  It wasn't and I think we've now made the conversation to European time.  We took no naps the next day.

The room we had for two nights was nice.  The bathroom was a very welcome upgrade from the one we had in Vienna.  At least it didn't smell...  Unlike the other toilets, this one was very American in that the water hole (or whatever it's called) was at the back.  All the ones in Vienna were at the front.  Why?  Dunno.  The only downside was that it was on the 3rd floor and those 50lb bags were getting heavy after all that hiking to just the hotel.  The Frau had no problem taking Heidi's bag up and she looked thin and wiry, not even 100 lbs soaking wet.

Breakfast was good.  Meats, cheese, bread, jam, butter.  Heidi is enjoying the coffee.  I'm liking the hot chocolate.  The Germans must like their sweets because the hot chocolate is always available at cafe's etc, usually 3-4 versions, with whipped cream, without, spiked with Rum, etc.

We had awoken late and rushed downstairs to eat so afterwards we took showers and didn't get out to enjoy the day until 11:30.  The previous day of travel and shaking out the last bits of jet lag had us starting the day late but felling really good.  It's vacation anyway and we weren't on any timeline to begin with.

We strolled around town and through a very cool garden.  Like our parks only less cut grass and more tree, foliage and trails.  It was right next to a private palace with large intimidating castle-like walls.  Would have been cool to go inside but is was closed to the public.

There's two baths in Baden-Baden.  And old school Roman style bath, called Friedrichsbad, which supposedly takes 3 hours to get through.  There's umpteen (17 I think) different stages - water at 38C then a shower, then water at 58C etc.  Heidi expressed some concern because a few of the stages involved mixing men and women together... nude.  Yes.  Nudity is not a problem here.  There was also a newer bath, called Carcalla, with similar stages but you were a swimsuit.  Both baths are actually steeped in history as is the town.  It's built on an old Roman settlement and the baths are on top of hot mineral springs.

We settled on Carcalla and Heidi immediately signed up for a 50 minute massage.  While she got her message, I toured the old Roman ruins.  Previously a Roman soldier bath house had existed here and it was interesting to see how they heated the floor, etc.  I joined Heidi after here message.  The entire bath house was very cool.  Many different showers, whirlpools, aroma steam rooms, and even and all nude area with steam log cabins.  After a couple hours we left feeling like jelly.  Very relaxed and at ease.

We were now ready for some dinner and settled on this nice restaurant we came across.  With the streets small and the buildings right next to the street, the building are usually square around the block and have a passageway to the middle of the building with a garden, fountain, etc.  It's very private and very nice.  This place had tables set up there.  Food was great.  I'd add specifics but I don't have the information near me now.  I took a few photos as well.

After that we stopped for some ice cream, strolled some more and then stopped a bar.  We got to know the bartender Chris, who is originally German, now lives in Miami, Florida, but has been here for two years visiting family in Baden-Baden. More on the beers later but we found some interesting information about Budweiser and Lowenbrau. 

As we were leaving town this morning a couple commented on our large rucksacks as we had them on our backs walking down the 75 stairs to get to the bus station.  I commented that my German wasn't so good but that yes, we were on our way to the train station (Bahnhof).  We stopped and then had a 10 minute conversation with them.  Hans and Margaret were on their way home from church.  My guess would be their 60s/70s.  Margaret could not speak any English but Hans was pretty good so we proceeded to have a conversation in half German and half English.  We told them we were on our honeymoon and headed to Rothenburg.  Hans said they had honeymooned their years ago and that we would love it.  Margaret was commenting on our hair color and eye color and saying how beautiful she thought Heidi was.  When I looked over I could see tears welling up in her eyes which made me almost tear up.  It was a very warm nice conversation and of course Heidi loved it. 

We can't wait to come back here to walk the Lichtentaler Allee, see the Casino, and go the the Friedrichsbad.

I'm running out of time waiting for the train so until then...


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