Oh, Baden-Baden. Known as a retreat for the wealthy, holiday destination of the Queen and Obama. For us, the gateway to the Black Forest, our first stop after crossing the border from France.
For a couple of Aussies, Baden-Baden was insanely obscure. We’d never heard of it, read about it, or seen any flights that went there. No one we know has ever visited. So in we drove to the visitors centre, thinking we’d need a guide around town. It was a lovely round wooden building, positioned over a stream. The air was SO fresh, the stream so calming. It was so green.
The guide told us to go and park in a very specific place, and then walk. Whichever way we wanted. So we did.
And what did we find? A town that looked straight out of the Sound of Music. Mansions with rolling green manicured lawns, miles of rosebeds, fountains and cobblestones and pastel pink buildings. Cake shops and restaurants overhanging the water. Erdbeer (strawberry) markets, packed with fresh berries, and the tastiest apples we’ve ever had.
We meandered along the stream for hours, passed by people on well-groomed horses, happy cyclists, picnickers. We found a bridge over to one of the mansions, wandered the grounds, and discovered it was a hotel. We stopped in for apple cake and milkshakes served on the lawn.
We stopped in to the cutest little cake shop, and were served by a very stern German grandmother-type. We ordered our cakes and she whipped a pencil out of her utilitarian apron, scribbled some figures. She returned in a moment with our slabs of erdbeer cake and apfel cake, placed in front of us with the air of a woman with no time for faff.
Once again, the hours upon hours of midsummer daylight we spent taking in the town. Obscure, maybe, but incredible. I’ll definitely be back. But now, back on the road to continue deeper into the Black Forest.