I traveled from Munich to Baden Baden yesterday… and only barely made my connection. The train was late getting into Munich, so of course we were behind the whole way. I made it by 3 minutes! Whew. I got checked into the hotel and waited for my college friend Paul to arrive. He has lived in Germany for 12 years now and is only an hour away from Baden Baden. He and his son came to see me. It was so good to see him, as we realized it had been about 10 years since the last time! Much too long! We went to a castle ruin (Altes Schloss Hohenbaden) and explored. I since learned that this castle was built in the 12th century, but fell into ruins following a fire at the end of the 16th century. The views from each level that we climbed was incredible. The Black Forest spread out all around. As a result, it is considered one of the most attractive destinations in the northern Black Forest.
We then set out for a drive. It was great! We drove all around the Black Forest, through quaint little towns, and towering trees. It was a great time for Paul and I to catch up and for me to see the Black Forest. As I hadn’t realized that the train station was so far outside of town, I knew this was my only real chance to see the countryside. We stopped in a small town for some food at what seemed to be a traditional German restaurant. I had my first Riesling in Germany! It was good! Paul translated the menu for me and I went with a beef dish and spatzle. Branching out!
I relaxed the rest of the evening and slept until I woke up this morning. I went and got a quick pastry for breakfast before heading to Friedrichsbad, an Irish-Roman bath, which is literally across the street from my hotel! Score! I saw a video on this bath and was very excited to give it a try. Baden Baden is known as a spa destination, but this bath is a different experience. It is a 17-step process, but I only went with the middle package. Which really means I got everything except the crème massage. I specifically decided to go this morning because Mondays are separate days, whereas Sundays are co-ed. Considering you are naked throughout, no thanks.
I was pretty hesitant at first, but I tried to tell myself that Europeans are much more comfortable in the nude than Americans are! You start with a shower, then a hot room (not quite a sauna, not quite a steam room) where you laid on wooden chairs and the dry heat dries you off, then you shower again, then a soap and brush massage (she asked me if I wanted the soft brush or hard brush… soft, please! And whether I wanted natural soap or olive… let’s try olive!), then another shower, then a seriously hot steam room/sauna (SO HOT), followed by, you guessed it, another shower, then a cooler pool/thermal bath, then an even cooler Jacuzzi soak, then a cold pool bath (this is where there will always be the risk of seeing men… thankfully there weren’t any in the pool with me, but I could see two in the step before the pool, so I was SUPER uncomfortable and got out before my 5 minutes were up), then a little warmer thermal bath, then another shower, then a cold shower, then a COLD bath (I stepped in and was all, nope, peace out), then warm towel to dry off, a moisturizing area, and finally the resting room (technically the last stop is the reading room, but I didn’t want to go there). The resting room was fantastic. They take your towel (sheet) that you dried off with, put a new one on a table (which already has a thermal blanket on it) and wrap you in the sheet and blanket. Sung as a bug. I totally fell asleep. It was glorious.
Afterward, I came back to the hotel to get ready and set out for lunch, ice cream, and a leisurely walk around the cute city center. I even did a little browsing in stores. It was exactly what I needed. A relatively laid-back couple of days. If all goes well, I will be cruising up the Rhine tomorrow, though I have a few questions and can’t seem to get them answered. So I might be flying by the seat of my pants a bit tomorrow!