Visiting Germany’s Baden Baden

All I knew about the German city of Baden Baden was that it was a famous spa town.  But I also recall the English football team had boot camped there with their WAGS one infamous tournament of which there have been so many.  So I equated it with failure, inevitability, and the hopelessness of England to ever be successful at soccer again after one great and surreal moment in 1966.  Off I went to visit Baden Baden and try to heal the memories and expunge the dreadfulness of overpaid footie players.

Baden Baden is really quite a short drive from Strasbourg.  The border between the two
countries, France and Germany, is evident and comes upon you quickly.  It’s dull and ironically is marked by a mosque at what was the checkpoint. One brief autobahn ride and within an hour we found ourselves in this very beautiful and well-manicured town.  There were tons of fancy hotels with spa facilities advertised everywhere.  There is an elegant long ascent up a wide series of well-kept gardens.  There was a delightful clay court tennis club that looked like it had been there for years, it had a turn of the 19th century fell about it and its doors were open to whoever fancied a game.  A rushing river cut through the center of the gardens and people were strolling along its banks as if they were in a French impressionist painting.  It was so damn civilized.

There were lots of Range Rovers and Audis but nothing too flashy.  It was very much a Sunday place.  In fact, every day, I imagine, seems like Sunday here.  Women with hats and couples arm in arm.  We grabbed a good lunch at a belle époque restaurant.  The food was a welcome relief from the heavy meat meal of its neighbor over the border.  All I could think about was how this region had been tossed around like a tennis ball in that clay court for 50 years.  I didn’t get to go to a spa.  It seemed complicated and difficult to figure out how to gain entrance. You knew the spas were somewhere but it just didn’t seem that if you wanted to go for a spa holiday, you would
choose this place.  Maybe it wasn’t sexy enough or accessible enough.  Or maybe I just missed it!  Baden Baden is absolutely worth a visit.  It’s beautiful and it even had a couple of Sequoia trees towering in the gardens.  How strange that at the top end of the town, beyond the hotels, something that seemed so terribly northern Californian was front and center.  Redwoods.  California, Germany.  Go figure.


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