Baden-Baden, old and new
Our time in Baden-Baden was definitely a high-light of the trip. Baden-Baden is an old resort town, made famous by its thermal waters and spas. Known by the Romans, there are 29! natural springs in the area. During the 19th century, Baden-Baden was the place to see and be seen by society’s elite. Boasting luxury hotels, a casino, and a pumproom, Baden-Baden was a place to come and get away from it all, and engage in some good old fashioned hobnobing.
The main draw for us were the thermal spas. Going on long trips, especially those to foreign countries, is a stressful endeavor. I like to set-aside some time in our trips, usually at the midpoint, to relax. And what better place in Germany?
Trinkethalle, concert, and shopping
After checking into our hotel, the Hotel Am Sophienpark, we wandered down to the old casino and saw a sign advertising the daily free! classical concerts. The hall you see pictured is in the casino building. Was it the best classical concert? No, but it was free and a fine way to pass a gloomy and rainy afternoon. We also walked around and looked into all the shop windows (so many cool, curated designer boutiques!).
After a week traveling through Germany, we were ready for some relaxation. There are two thermal baths in Baden-Baden: Caracalla and Friedrichsbad. We chose to visit the less regimented, go-at-your-own-pace, Caracalla. After a short walk from our hotel, paying the very reasonable entrance fee, and finding some available lockers, we hit the baths.
The center of the facility is a huge heated pool that is half indoors, half outdoors. There are jets around the edges of the pool that massage your back, and even jacuzzi areas in the outdoor portion. Upstairs, on the second floor of the facility, are all the saunas and steam rooms. There was even a blue room with soothing sounds. Each sauna room is at a different temperature, up to 90 degrees Celsius. There was even a salt inhalation room. This portion of the spa is 100% clothing free (yes, including bathing suits) environment. And honestly I wasn’t bothered by it. Everyone pretty much keeps their eyes to themselves. Plus, the attitude there is different.
(no pictures, for obvious reasons :))
Hohenbaden castle and Schloss Favorite
As you can see, the weather was a bit gloomy on the day we went to Hohenbaden castle. But it added to the atmosphere. We drove to the base of the castle and hiked around the remains, all the way up to the top tower (accessible by ladder). In the photo, Petey is standing on top of the highest remaining tower. The ruin themselves are kind of magical, more so (in my opinion) than all the grand houses and residences we visited. There’s a real sense here of people going about their daily lives, that doesn’t come through in the restored houses and palaces across the country. Or maybe I’m just a romantic like that!
Schloss Favorite was the hunting lodge/maison de plaisance of the Margravine Sibylla Augusta. Built during the first half of the eighteenth century, the interior is predictably Rococo is style (not allow pics inside). You get a real sense of just how much money was spent building this grand house.
The tour was conducted in German, but we were given typed English translations. I wish the tour guide hadn’t been in such a rush (I mean, there weren’t any groups after us), I could have spent a lot more time in those beautiful rooms! There are also some truly stunning ceramic pieces housed in the museum portion of the house.
Our hotel: a wonderfully beautiful, classic hotel. The rooms were the largest we saw during our entire time in Germany. The bathroom was also large and nice. They served a decent breakfast, and the location can’t be beat.
Thermal Baths: Reasonably priced, and enjoyable. Why don’t we have these in America? Or at least as many?
People: we met a couple while at dinner one night who live pretty close to where we live in Washington! What a small world it is!
Weather: lots of rain and fog
Have you read my last post about our visit to Trier, Germany? You can here!