Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
152Trip End Ongoing
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Baden-Baden is a town so nice, they named it twice! At least that is what Bill Clinton apparently said so Steffie and I drove down there today to check it out. We were going to go yesterday, but after 3 days in the kitchen and rain outside, we weren't really in the mood for travelling. Baden-Baden isn't far from Edingen, it is only an hour drive south along the A5 Autobahn. We left around 10am and drove past Karlsruhe and into the town. Before we reached downtown, we stopped off at the Info Centre for a map and the obligatory souvenir pin.
Baden-Baden has a long history of being a bathing or spa town. It was settled by the Romans and for the last 200 or more years has enjoyed its status as a tourist town. Apparently the reason it has a double name is because the town Baden was in the state Baden
We were also here as tourists and began our stadtspaziergang at the Trinkhalle which is literally a hall built with a drinking fountain in it some 170 years ago. These days it houses an information center and cafe, but you can still drink the water from the fountain. We crossed over the Oosbach River and into the Alt Stadt which like Heidelberg has pedestrian only shopping streets. After a nice coffee, we set off for the Neues Schloss up the hill.
Being on a hill meant climbing up through the narrow, windy, cobblestone streets, but sadly the Schloss was closed and under renovation. After catching our breath, we headed back down to the Stiftskirche which had some modern additions to the entrance, but was overall very impressive inside. Apparently it is the resting place of some of the margraves (less than a duke, but more than a baron!) of Baden. This was also the point where all the spas started popping up like the massive Friedrichsbad and Caracalla Therme.
The museum was closed, but under the Friedrichsbad are the ruins of the original ancient Roman baths
I wanted to go to the Faberge Museum and see all the handcrafted eggs worth thousands, but the entrance price was 12 Euros ($15) so it was a little out of our price range so we walked down to the Augusta Platz where there was an ice skating rink built over the top of a water pond. It was funny to see people skating on the ice over the water! It wasn't really cold enough to be ice skating, in fact except for a few days the winter hasn't even been freezing.
We crossed back over the Oosbach to Lichtenaler Allee which is a popular, 350 year old, 3km long walking avenue alongside the river. Here is where the museums, art galleries and theatre are located and we took a look inside the Staaliche Kunsthalle. The admission was free and it was a good thing because if I had to pay 7 Euros to see a bunch of video installations and 3 rooms of art then I would want my money back
Back at the Trinkhalle was a fairly large Christmas Market which is unusual because the usually close on Christmas Eve. Steffie and I had a last gluhwein each, unfortunately it wasn't very good. I wanted to eat at the markets for dinner, but it was still too early so after wasting some more time walking around the market, we left for Strasbourg. We had planned on crossing the closest bridge over the Rhein River, but it was closed so we drove down to the border town of Freistett for dinner. I couldn't be bothered trying to order a meal in French so we had an early dinner in a local pub.
Five minutes after we got into the car, we were crossing the bridge over into France. I was hoping that they would stop as at the border so that I could get a stamp in my passport, but sadly there wasn't really a border at all. It was just like driving into the next state except the signs changed to French. Having gotten that out of the way, we drove down Highway A35 into Strasbourg (Strassburg) in Alsace. We checked into our hotel in the northern suburb of Schiltigheim only 3kms from downtown.
That makes six countries: Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Germany and France!