Baden Baden is located at southwestern Germany, near the Black Forest. Baden means bath or spa in German. Naturally this spa-heaven and the town is littered with many spa resorts. Too bad for me, I did not go for the spa. [Psst… in truth I am not too comfortable being in a mixed nude spa]. My friend told me its about €50 for a 2 hour session, but I’m not sure if I remembered correctly. Anyway, I’m not going so I didn’t pay attention.

The city is pretty nice; very clean and posh. I love the shopping streets around Leopoldsplatz. Private transports are not allowed in, so its a heaven for leisure walkers/shoppers but city buses are allowed. There is a small stream cutting across the park near Trinkhalle and the water is so clean and clear; it looked like it just came out of the tap. A notable landmark is Festpielhaus (Opera house), it was converted from an old train station. Pretty cool! There’s also a castle on top of the hill, Neues Schloss but its now a private property. It used to be open for public. According to my local friend it was bought by a wealthy Arab and he wanted to convert it into a hotel or resort; but the government and locals were against it. They view the castle as a natural heritage and shouldn’t be capitalize for profits.

Baden Baden City

Festpielhous (Opera house)

Other than spa, the second most talked about ‘thing to do’ is Black Forest. For 2 days I took bus from Steinbach to Baden Baden town, passing the Black Forest and I just can’t see the fuss over this Black Forest. I think the view of the scattered villages and vineyards around Baden Baden town were more beautiful and breath-taking. [Too bad I never manage to take a good picture from the bus ride] Finally I asked my local friend about Black Forest and lucky I never mention anything about picking berries. Accordingly, before WW the forest pine+fir trees are all over hundreds of year and its very dense and dark inside. Its a dangerous place because there used to be thieves and witches [HA HA]; maybe Robin Hood used to ‘party’ here! Anyway, the forest is not as dense anymore due to massive logging after WW1&2 and a storm 10 years ago. I went to Mummelsee and climbed to the mountaintop overlooking the lake; the storm did leave a lasting impact.

Mummelsee: Track in Black Forest going to mountaintop

Mummelsee: Track in Black Forest going to mountaintop
Mummelsee: Looking down at Mummelsee lake

Mummelsee: Looking down at Mummelsee lake
Mummelsee: At mountaintop, after effect of Lothar storm (1999)

Mummelsee: At mountaintop, after effect of Lothar storm (1999)

Guess Robin and the gang need to move into the city now and the forest is safe for hikers like me *wink*. The next day I went to the southern part of Baden Baden and hiked across the vineyard and forest to Schloss Hohenbaden (Altes Schloss, Old Castle). As expected, the partly ruin castle is now a restaurant with a great view overlooking the valley of vineyard and township/village. My host told me if there is an old abandon castle, it will turn into a restaurant. Very true! The construction of the castle began in 1102, and was further developed under Markgraf Berhard (1372 until 1431) and again under Markgraf Jakob (1431 until 1453). At the end of the 16th century, when it destroyed by fire. [source from internet :)]

Vineyard

Vineyard

This is my favourite picture. It was taken from the restaurant at Old Castle, with Neuweier village and the vineyard at the background. My friend and I tracked almost 3 hours to reach the top and used hiking trails. However, you can drive up if you have a car. We lost track of time, going around the area and watched the sunset from the fortress tower; then practically ran downhill to avoid walking in the dark!

View of the vineyard and Neuweier

View of the vineyard and Neuweier

Oh… about the wine here! Its excellent, considering my host made the selection himself. He selected a fruity and sweet red wine … :)

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