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A Day in Baden Baden

28/01/2016 - 12:09-1 Comment by | bangladesh flag

The Old Castle

The Old Castle

Winters in the south and southwest of Germany are not brutal. On the contrary, they are quite mild and make you long for some snow. However, on the upside, you do not need to hibernate till the first spring blossom nods at you. With temperatures ranging between 7-9 degrees, interrupted by sudden bursts of sunlight, travelling can be quite fun.

Last Saturday, my son, Ayman and I decided to be daring winter travelers and went on a day trip to Baden Baden. We had a friend living in the city who had promised us a thorough tour of the city. I must confess that he lived up to his promise. It was a wonderful trip. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a little and give you a brief background of the city.

Baden Baden (short for Baths in Baden-Württemberg) is a spa town built on the thermal springs, gently tucked into the folds of the Black Forest. The town has inspired many artists and writers, such as Brahms, Dostoevsky and Chekov. In fact, Dostoevsky is said to have written “The Gambler” in Baden Baden, while continuing to gamble at the famous casino.

Our tour began with the tour of the Baden Baden Airport, where my friend happens to work.  He gave us a tour of the hangar, where we posed for pictures on the airplanes and helicopters and then drove around the airport. He told us how during the Cold War, units of the Royal Canadian Air Force were accommodated at the base which was later converted into a civil airport in the 1990s.

When he suggested that we go to France for lunch, I thought he was joking. Apparently, he was not. France was only ten minutes away and it took us a three-minute ferry ride across the Rhine to reach Alsace! After driving through some sleepy French villages we felt pangs of hunger that only a hearty meal of schnitzel and pommes frites could satiate. So we decided to return to Germany.

On our way back, we saw a fragment of the Maginot Line standing there like a forgotten relic of the past. For those of you who cannot recall what I am talking about, the Maginot Line is a stretch of concrete fortifications, obstacles, and weapons installations that France constructed during the 1930s to keep away the Germans. It didn’t work, though.

The lunch in Alstadt was a success. To aid our digestion, we took a walk around the town, looking at the Lichtenthal Monastery, the Festspielhaus, and the glittering Kurhaus, built in the early 1820s. We did not have time to enjoy a thermal bath at Friedrichsbad, which is a pity because it is the main attraction which draws thousands of tourists every year to this town. Built in 1877, it is a beautiful temple to traditional Roman-Irish bathing culture.

Walking along the 350-year old Lichtentaler Allee was an experience in itself. With the River Oos running through it, the huge park is fringed by majestic hotels and elegant mansions. Though, I am biased toward the Neckar, I must admit that the gurgling Oos has its charms too! As I walked across the delicate ornate bridges lining the banks of Oos at regular intervals, I felt like walking through a huge garden out of a Henry James novel. There seemed to be fountains everywhere!

As we returned to the spot where our host had parked his car, we caught a glimpse of the Neues Schloss or New Castle – the former residence of the Margraves of Baden. Unfortunately, as the building is private property, the castle and its grounds were off limits to visitors, which was quite disappointing.

However, instead of pining after it, we decided to visit the Hohenbaden Castle or the Altes Schloss (Old Castle) sitting on top of a hill. Built in 1102, it was home to the Margraves of Baden from the 11th till the 15th century. Nowadays the castle is a popular site for weddings. Coincidentally a wedding was being held on that very day!

The view was worth climbing up the steep, winding staircase. The vast expanse of Schwarzwald or the Black Forest lay beneath us for us to marvel. The silvery streak of Rhine separating France from Germany ran between France and Germany, shimmering in the setting sun as the fringe of the Vosges mountains peeked over the horizon. Yes, it was time to go home.

Tags: English Blog Post, German Cities, Holidays & Events, Society & Culture

Comments

1 Comment

    Thank you Afsana, I like this very much. It is so informative and so nice writing.

    Comment by Zinnat Ara created 06/04/2016 - 07:47

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