Thursday, March 26, 2015

Baden Baden: eine "undeutsche" Stadt // An "Ungerman" City

March 15, 2015

The Sunday after my family left I made a day trip to Baden Baden, a town in the foothills of the Black Forest. It wasn't originally on my list of places to visit in Germany and I didn't feel inclined to pay for a train ticket, but when a few friends put together a trip by car I decided to join in. Baden Baden is only about an hour away from Mannheim and we arrived mid-morning, giving us plenty of time to explore.

Valentin, our driver of the day, looked up sites to see beforehand and found some medieval ruins on one of the mountains above the town. Aside from a few railings and wires put in for safety, there was little evidence that the ruins had been disturbed by modern life. We only saw a few other people exploring the castle and otherwise all was quiet. The castle was in such disrepair that it was hard to picture it as a complete building with people living inside. We walked through every room and passageway we could find and climbed all the staircases to the top tower to get a magnificent view of the town sprawled out at the bottom of the valley.

When we had finished exploring the castle we looked at a map and found that there were numerous other ruins higher up the mountain that were  an easy hike away. We decided to find some of them, deviating from the path a few times to climb up the more interesting rocky sections. Most of the ruins were just sections of rocks stacked on top of each other, but one of the more developed spots has stairs cut into the side of the rocks that looked just like Shelob's lair.

Photo credit: Valentin 

We eventually made our way down to the town in the early afternoon. The streets were full of people and most restaurants and attractions were open despite it being Sunday, probably due to the draw of tourism. The town itself is beautiful and doesn't look "German" at all -- most likely because of its long history as a spa town that attracted visitors from across the continent. The baths are modelled after the ancient Roman baths, and as it's spring, the riverbanks throughout the town are covered in flowers. We didn't make use of the baths or the casino (Baden Baden's other main attraction) so all that was left to do was walk around and enjoy the beauty of the streets and parks.

Paved rivers with incredibly clean water
The compass map with famous cities 

Though I didn't expect to travel to Baden Baden, it was definitely worth the visit. The combination of perfect weather, fun companions, delicious food, and beautiful sites puts the town near the top of my favourites places I've been in Germany.

Photo credit: Valentin

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