germany: baden-baden

When You Have Money To Burn

I absolutely love castles and all the fairy-tale romance they stand for.  When booking the tour, one of the highlights for me was checking out Hohenzollern Castle on Christmas Day – Merry Christmas Sharen!  Again, as life (yes, I’m absolutely referring to the demands of work yet again) was hectic, I didn’t actually Google Hohenzollern Castle prior to the trip to find out what I could before making my way out there.  The location of this castle is absolutely stunning as its built on top of a mountain 855m high and provides spectacular views.  As we drove up as close as the tour bus could get to the castle, my heart was all a flutter.  It looked magnificent and I couldn’t wait to find out the story behind why it was perched on a mountain.

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Since we decided (aka were told by our tour leader to not take the shuttle bus reserved for seniors) to walk up to the top, I started to feel my legs turn to jelly as we made it from one staircase to the next and I started to feel like I was back in Australia trying to conquer heart attack hill once again.  It dawned on me that they perched this castle in this location to ensure that nobody would invade it.  Sadly, once we reached the gates and entered, the winding uphill walk just continued on.  I’m a trooper so slightly out of breath, I soldiered on and  started thinking maybe the castle belonged to a recluse weirdo who thought of pouring his money into a stunning castle instead of a remote cabin hidden in the woods as that was the thing to do at the time.  Ahh, that would have been a fabulous story if it wasn’t all just make-believe in my head.

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Turns out that my instincts have led me astray on this trip once again as none of my conclusions were remotely close to the truth.  As the tour commenced and I had my slippers and cape in place listening to a pony-tailed and rather odd man drown on and on about the family who owned the castle.  I soon realized that this was the 3rd version of the castle and it was built as a family memorial and no one had actually ever lived in it.  The closest it ever came to being occupied was the current owner threw his 30th birthday party in the castle which lasted for days.  There were people in designer shoes, dancing all night, and all that jazz but it was the furthest thing from the Downton Abbey scandal that I was hoping for – boo!  There were no stories of love and heartbreak as the castle was passed from one generation to the next.  There was only rooms that were never lived in and staged for suckers like me to come and visit.

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One of the things that I remember the pony-tailed man saying before I tuned him out completed was that you should buy a castle when you have money to burn.  He then droned on and on about the maintenance costs and keeping the staff in place and such.  Sadly, I feel the same why about visiting a castle without any great history behind it as well.  You win some, you lose some and at the end of the day, I walked away with some great photos but not as excited and dying to know more as I usually am when I visit a castle.

Categories: GERMANY, germany: baden-baden | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just Another Pretty Face…

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Maybe this is something that comes with age and weariness of travel but I’ve gotten to the point where I’m over going to places that are stunning but offer nothing to stimulate me beyond that.  Maybe it’s just me but I feel that if I’m going to put in time and effort of a visit than I would like to find some substance underneath all that is visually simulating.  Granted a few hours in Tübingen is equivalent of a drive by in my books but this university town left me bored.  It had a very distinctly European look that I’m getting to know well with its canal, castle, and old historic buildings that made for pretty pictures but unfortunately nothing else.  I liked the allure of this being a city that was largely unscathed by the Second World War but for some reason after walking around, it left me wanting more.  Maybe if I had visited when school was in session or if my visit had been longer than my opinion would have been different but I walked away from here thinking once is good enough for me in this lifetime.

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Categories: GERMANY, germany: baden-baden | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tumbleweeds, Anyone?

Empty Streets of Baden-Baden

Empty Streets of Baden-Baden

I found myself in Baden-Baden for Christmas this year and with absolutely no prior research, I was expecting it to be a winter wonderland.  Once again, I was WRONG (turns out my internal weather predictor is also broken!) as the weather proved to be rather pleasant in a no need for a jacket kind of way.  Without a shadow of a doubt, it looked like I’d be having yet another Green Christmas this year.  Truth be told, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this but when you’re in the mood for a little snow, this little detail is nothing if not heartbreaking.

Nevertheless, with jacket in hand, I went off to explore all that Baden-Baden had to offer.  Despite the fact that our tour specifically stopped in this little German town over Christmas, it was essentially shut down for the holidays.  Nothing was open.  The thermal spas that the town is known for were closed.  The shops (some mighty fine vintage finds I might add) were also closed.  Even the Christmas Markets all about town were closed.  If I’ve ever been in a setting ideal for the beginning of a horror movie than this was it.  Aside from the 40 of us on tour, the streets were empty.  It was as though we were at the beginning of a slasher film and everyone was in awe of this picturesque small town and not seeing the evil that was bubbling just underneath the surface.  If I’ve learned anything from horror movies, it’s to stay with the group and I did just that.  Despite the fact that I wanted to see the castle, I stayed with the largest portion of my tour group and explored whatever they wanted as day turned to night.

Smack In The Middle Of Town

Smack In The Middle Of Town

Beautiful Cathedral Found On Our Walk

Beautiful Cathedral Found On Our Walk

On the surface, all seemed alright and I started to think that maybe I should expect nothing more than a quiet dinner with group before calling it a night in this sleepy little town were internet wasn’t a necessity in life!  This is where I went wrong for the second time that day.  After the sun had set, the people in this town all started to emerge.  Perfect and beautiful in that just stepped out of Gossip Girl kind of way, they all appeared one after another and started to congregate in the nightclub we were in.  They were young (pale too I might add but don’t worry, I reminded myself that vampires are a myth and not proven fact) and out like it was your average Tuesday night.  There were no signs of it being Christmas eve, there were no ugly jumpers, or families out together.  They were the young and beautiful who looked like they had spent the last 5 hours grooming for the evening.  As they quietly swayed to the techno beat, I looked around in awe and not sure what to make of it.

As I escaped the nightclub with a fellow traveller, we couldn’t stop talking about how weird it all was.  Its Christmas and yet the queue to get into the place we were abandoning was around the block.  I’m glad that I gave it a go and celebrated Christmas Eve as they do but I’m 100% certain that I’ll never ever do Christmas in Baden-Baden again even though I have full intentions heading back to this town someday.  Hopefully it will be when the crowds are out and the stores are open and I can just sit back and relax instead of worrying about what lies beneath.

Categories: GERMANY, germany: baden-baden | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Festively Dressing Up Naked Limbs!

Ever since I built my first pin-hole camera, trees were one of my all time favourite subjects and so why would I expect my photos from the recent tour of the German Christmas Markets not to have an abundant of them is beyond me.  As I sort and examine over 1,000 photos taken on the 11 day tour, I figured it was only right to share my favourite 3 that have been all dressed up for the holiday season.

Cologne Christmas Market Beauty

Cologne Christmas Market Beauty

All Dressed Up for the Cologne Christmas Market

All Dressed Up for the Cologne Christmas Market

The Beauty On The Streets of Baden-Baden

The Beauty On The Streets of Baden-Baden

 

 

Categories: GERMANY, germany: baden-baden, germany: cologne | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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