Declaring Undying Love for Baden Baden, Germany

Let me tell you about a little town called Baden Baden. Nestled in gentle rolling hills, it’s one of the most scenic small towns in the state of Baden Württemberg in the Black Forest. It was by far my favorite day trip destination when I was living in Freiburg, Germany. I went to visit the famous Baden Baden thermal baths and loved it there so much I went back to visit 3 times. People liked to make fun of me because they felt like thermal bathing was an activity best left to retirees, but I’d like to think I just have a great taste for the finer things in life.

Here are my tips for planning a day time spa adventure in Baden Baden:

  1. Use the Baden Wüttemberg day ticket when travelling with multiple people: Baden Württemberg Day Ticket Rules

 

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2. At the Friedrichsbad Spa, you can go the traditional route and do the in depth two hour bathing in the original chambers for around 40 Euros, or you can choose to go next door to the Caracalla spa which is a very nice indoor/outdoor pool. It’s a cheaper and more family friendly option. (Swim trunks are allowed in this section of the thermal baths). It’s the same healing mineral water at a fraction of the price, so if you are uncomfortable bathing without clothes as is required in the original part of the spa, this is the way to go: Caracalla Spa

3. Bring your own towel if possible because otherwise you’ll have to rent one for an outrageous fee. If you don’t have a towel you can buy one at a nearby DM, Germany’s most popular drug store. All the stores in the area are ready to serve incoming tourists with their bathing needs. If you forgot to pack a swimsuit, you can also be sure that H & M will have you covered for a cheap emergency bathing suit.

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4. Try to plan your trip to Baden Baden in the spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming. ‘Nough said 😉

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5. I would say that if you wanted to do some exploring of this hilly town, make sure to squeeze that in before bathing at the mineral baths. My experience is that once you finish bathing the hot water you will be left exhausted, overly relaxed and dehydrated, not a  good recipe for exploring. I know you’re excited to witness the iconic baths, but trust me, if you try to climb all those steps for panoramic views after 3 hours of steamy swimming, you might not end up exploring at all.

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6. Don’t forget to visit one of Baden Baden’s amazing cultural museums. There are several great options to choose from.

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7. There are so many great restaurants and cafe’s to choose from, but if you get overwhelmed by sit down prices and don’t want to cave and go to an American Fast Food Style restaurant, why don’t you give a German Fast Food Franchise a chance. For example, there’s a great chain called Nordsee that sells fish platters and sandwiches and it’s directly on the way to the thermal baths. There’s also a Chinese restaurant really close to the thermal baths called Lotus. I really liked it and it’s really cheap. However, it seems to have mixed reviews on Trip Advisor.

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8. Also, keep in mind that the train station for Baden Baden does not stop in the town center. You will need to pay a few more Euros for a Bus Shuttle into town. That really threw me off the first time I went. If you are scared and confused about how to buy the ticket just ask a local and they’ll gladly walk you through it. There’s a “slow” bus that will make many stops and an “express” bus. Either one shouldn’t take you all that long so just take whichever bus comes first.

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9. Finally, remember that there is no right or wrong way to explore a city. If you want to walk all over town the whole day and learn every cultural and historical thing about Baden Baden, knock yourself out. If you love window shopping, then by golly you should go window shop. If you want to relax in a park somewhere or decide you feel like going to the hotel a little early, take all the time you need. Sometimes life is all about those quiet adventures.

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Hope you all enjoyed this post. For more photos from my travel adventures, follow me on instagram: @colormeadri

See you all next time 🙂

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Konstanz on the Bodensee

Last summer I travelled a few times to the beautiful lakeside town of Konstanz. Germans almost universally fantasize about spending summer days on Lake Constance or as the Germans call it “Bodensee”.  Boden means floor or ground in German. See in this context means lake. The name makes perfect sense because this enormous body of water, situated at a lower elevation than its surroundings, is the product of run-off water from the German, Swiss and Austrian Alps. We mostly stayed around Konstanz, but we did take a short ferry ride to another town. Unfortunately the name of that town escapes me but we were still on the German side. Enjoy these photos and see for yourself if you want to join the Germans in their desire to vacation on the Bodensee. Check out this link to plan your trip. 

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Rooftop Garden in Konstanz

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Picturesque Historic Buildings

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Let’s go sailing!

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Alex and I Bodensee

My sister and I waiting for the ferry to take off. (People always think we’re twins).

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Village nearby we reached by the ferry.

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What a view!

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The Alps in the Distance

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Me being a tourist.

 

Painting with Georg

When I lived in Freiburg, Germany I took an art class with a local painter named Georg Schell. I remember the first time my friends and I trekked to his studio located deep into a very wealthy neighborhood known as die Whiere. We climbed up the steps to his studio, and first encountered a hallway filled with rows of water bottles and large paintings carelessly stacked against each other. The studio itself was entirely covered in oil paint smudges, filled to the brink with paintings covering both the walls and ceilings. Georg prized working fast most of all which yielded him an insurmountable collection. He was such a prolific artist, that the town of Breisach in France gifted him a studio, overlooking the scenic countryside. I have met few people more creative and have met no one who dresses quite like him: always dressed formally, with a black vest over a white button down shirt, black slacks, leather shoes, most of the time a nice black hat.

The first class he was a bit too excited to meet us and scared a few people off with a combination of his enthusiasm paired with a tendency to stand a tad too close to people. I left the first class confused because he had given me a single wilting rose to take home. He put it into an empty plastic water bottle with the top cut off. The bottle used to hold carbonated water and was not the most suitable vase, but no one had ever given me a rose before. I left the rose sitting on the kitchen counter in my dorm, which my roommates saw as very sweet. In that way Georg indirectly helped me make friends.

His advice often made no sense. He’d tell us things like, make it purple or use more water, without telling us why. Everyone’s least favorite Georg phrase was “Entschuldige bitte, aber das ist schon fertig”. When Georg said this it meant he thought your painting was finished despite the fact that you probably only worked on it for 3 minutes and you weren’t even sure what it was yet.

Georg emigrated to Germany as a young man from Serbia. He talks lovingly of his mother, but much more lovingly of Alsace in France, wine country. To this day I’m convinced we were enrolled in a wine and food tasting class rather than a painting class. Almost every class ended with the opening of a different bottle of expensive French wine paired with cookies, fancy salamis, pan fried trout, or various fruits. Thanks to Georg I know now that I love white dessert wines and don’t much care for fish eyes or alcoholic free beer.

Leaving Georg on the last day of class was hard. He held everyone’s hands for what seemed like an eternity. With tears in his eyes he pleaded, “Kommt bald wieder”, or please come back soon and visit. The man gave openly to us, beyond what was expected of him, not expecting anything in return. Whenever we shared a glass of wine, he always used to say, “One does not drink wine alone. It’s meant to be shared with friends.” These words, the taste of new foods, new wine, new friends, will never leave my memory.

Why I studied Sociology in undergrad?

I first became interested in the study of Sociology at the age of 11, before I even understood what Sociology meant. During a summer in Boulder, Colorado, we frequented the locally famous Boulder Bookstore, where my mother and I would spend hours exploring the shelves, acquainting ourselves with new reads, and unbeknownst to the both of us, developing new interests entirely.

I became engrossed with a collection of books which discussed modern-day issues, such as runaway capitalism, race relations in America, and food systems in America. Among my first “Sociological” reads were books like Don’t Eat This Book by film maker Morgan Spurlock, and Nickle and Dimed by journalist Barbara Ehrenreich. I was in love. The books I read about fast food made me rethink entirely the choices I made around food and awakened me to the reality that for some families, fast food is one of if not the only options to feed their families. I enjoyed reading books by authors who were active participants in exploring unjust social realities, who championed social reform through the spread of awareness of the problems they perceived around them. I wanted to follow. This is why I chose to study Sociology.

I am still glad I studied Sociology, but leading up to graduation, Sociology in the academic context had begun to feel like the wrong path for me. In undergrad I began feeling like I wasn’t writing papers and putting together projects out of passion, but rather obligation. The spark I originally had for social reform was not sustained.

Sensing that I needed to re-ignite this desire to learn more about the world and its people, I took a different approach, and took a year abroad in Germany and Denmark. I am so glad I did this. My German improved tremendously. I worked on a farm in the Black Forest and learned about sustainability in a class about Green Business practices. I talked to more strangers than I ever thought I’d speak to in the course of my entire life. Most importantly I soaked up the stories of the locals both from direct conversation and eavesdropping. I’m convinced those stories have shaped me and will continue to shape me.

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While I prepare to make goals and plans for the next few years of my life, I hope to take the lessons I’ve learned both in my studies in Sociology and my experiences abroad and use them to enrich other people’s lives somehow. While the manner in which I will achieve this is still partially unclear, I hope at the very least to be a resource to people, and to be a listening ear to the stories of others.

❤ Color Me Adri

Lebensgarten Dreisamtal: Deconstructing a Greenhouse

As I walked towards the Lebensgarten this morning I could hear bongos and guitars playing in the distance. Clara, Chris and Miriam, as it turned out, had camped out in the garden’s tent so they could be ready to go for the big project of the day, namely driving to Donaueschingen to take down old greenhouses gifted to the Lebensgarten. The work still is in progress. I was only able to go for today, but I’m very excited to see them installed at the Lebensgarten in the coming weeks.

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The drive was incredible. I had gone on most of that highway on the way to go snow-shoe walking in Feldberg, but I had never been to Donaueschingen.

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When Clara said she had received word that she could take home new greenhouses for free, I never would have imagined they’d be as large as they were.

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All eight of us stood in amazement, not knowing exactly where to begin. But like good Germans everyone effortlessly broke into groups, some drawing an architectural sketch of the greenhouses’s frame structure, others devising on the fly a system for labeling each individual metal beam (there were hundreds) so that it would be understood where each piece went in the reconstruction phase.

We had breaks now and then with coffee, pretzels from the local bakery and later pizza and soda. The atmosphere was very relaxed. I notice that the workers in the garden always schedule in breaks, more breaks than I’m used to working in America, but I think that’s an important aspect of the German work culture. When one is working, they are really working, but they know how to rest so they can be more efficient for later.

I had various small jobs throughout the day. First taking advantage of my height by taking down cables. Later unscrewing bolts on beams from ladders and holding down ladders for others. At the end I was assigned to cut the plastic covering so it could be fully removed. Near the beams were strange pointy looking plants. I began to pull them away and found my hand stung despite me wearing gloves and my arm was turning red.

I turned to the person next to me and said, “Ich denke ich bin allergisch gegen diese Pflanze. Was ist es eigentlich?

He laughed and said, “Alle sind allergisch gegen diese Pflanze. Es heißt Brennnesseln.

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For non-German speakers I noticed I had an allergic reaction to the plant I touched, told the person next to me and asked what it was. He laughed because everyone is allergic to the plant, because it is called Stinging Nettle.

I had heard of the plant before but wasn’t aware it had medicinal properties. Chris said on the drive back that he had used it to heal an injury to his Archilles Tendon. Talk about painful.

I had an amazing day and think everything about the project was inspiring. First of all I am inspired by the incredible teamwork of the workers of the Lebensgarten. Secondly, I am impressed that the greenhouses were given away for free, since greenhouses of that size can cost upwards of 20,000 euros (when sold new I’m assuming, or perhaps even used). Thirdly, because the team had the patience to disassemble the greenhouses because of a passion to recycle something that would have otherwise never be used again. Since they were a little old the plan was either to give them away to anyone willing to do the work or simply get rid of them. Everyone working today shared a passion for nature and for recycling something that could be made new again and I found that to be very exciting.

Rainy Weekend: Freiburg Dances into May

Thursday I worked again at the garden. My body is sore every day and there’s still dirt in my fingernails I can’t get out, but I know I’m doing work that I care about so that’s all that matters. Additionally, all the physical labor is making me be more careful about what I eat to fuel my body and about getting plenty of sleep. I can already feel myself gaining more muscular strength. Perhaps all I need are a few more greens and some epsom salts and I’ll be feeling better than ever.

Yesterday was May 1st, a holiday in Germany. Many people go out to drink the night before to welcome in the spring time and “dance into May”. I was hanging out at Amanda’s playing about the most complicated board game I’ve ever played in my life when a few more of her roommates walked in just having come back from a party from the night before, which was confusing considering at this point it was almost sunset. When Amanda and I realized all she had at home to eat was noodles we went downtown in hopes something would be open for dinner.

We ate döners in Yufka wraps in the rain amongst tourists and very hungover people. I had gotten the feeling that it was national German hangover day and I didn’t get the memo.

It’s been raining all weekend and it makes the black forest look magical like an image from a children’s fairy tale. Also this weekend was another FC Freiburg home game. The stadium is one train stop from my WG which means theres an 150% chance that any given time that I decide to go grocery shopping on a Saturday I end up coming back to a Straßenbahn packed like a sardine tin with people decked out in red and black.

I had been debating in my head earlier this week between going to Stuttgart on Saturday or staying home, resting and studying for midterms. I think I needed the rest after all and I love watching SC Freiburg fans on their way to a home game. I think I’m satisfied with my decision.

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April 28, 2015 Lebensgarten Dreisamtal

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Today I started out picking out weeds from a field we literally just de-weeded last Tuesday. It felt strangely rewarding, because there were admittedly a lot less than last week. The ground was soft and crumbly from the rain earlier that morning and roots slipped out easily as did tiny rocks that keep magically appearing out of nowhere. While I was working I suddenly realized I didn’t know the capital of Alabama anymore, which bothered me the entire time. I looked it up when I got home. It’s Montgomery in case anyone is wondering.

Lately people who live around Kirchzarten have been coming in to help with the gardening, which I find so inspiring, a community coming together to help out a local farm. One woman is a dancer and I think she has the best sense of humor. She apparently loves fennel, which we were planting together today. She choreographs dance and said that she has a great spatial sense. She didn’t even really need a ruler to know how far 35 centimeters was – the distance we were supposed to leave between the fennel plants. She talked to the plants, saying that they’d grow big and strong some day and asked one fennel plant “where it thought it was going”, that it had to get back in line, like a dancer, between fennel A and fennel B.

(Keep in mind all of this was said in German and I’m incredibly proud to even be at a point where I can understand most things people tell me).

I love when we take breaks, not only because kneeling on the ground all day is tiring, but because we have tea and cookies and talk. Today the other gardeners were shocked to learn that in order to drive comfortably from one end of America to the other it would take approximately 5 days.

The Lebensgarten is considering buying a small greenhouse, which sounds very useful. In other news the rhubarb plants are growing big and strong. I feel myself growing stronger as well!

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