Sunday, October 3, 2010

Baden-Baden, Germany

Rankings spa towns visited so far Baden-Baden (population 50,000) easily tops the list. The resort boast multiple five star hotels, a casino, nearby airport (convenient for jet-setters), is awash in big name luxury boutiques (clothing, jewlery, watches), sports a nearby golf course and of course, impressive homes.
Many call Baden-Baden the grand dame of spa towns. Through the centuries (from Roman times) European royalty (including that little fellow Napolean) have dipped their toes in the thermal waters and relaxed with walks through the famous Black Forest (a heavily wooded mountain range--not a forest ).

The first thing this cyclist does upon reaching the city center 8:30 AM on a rainy morning is find a butcher shop. Why? I'm hungry and butcher shops in Germany usually open at 8AM with hot tasty sausages, breaded pork, a meatloaf-like concoction of bologna, chicken legs and pork roast normally on the menu. My favorite? Sliced pork roast on a bun with mustard is not to be believed and Germans know how do do it right (don't get me started on this stuff as it's suppose to be about sweets).
The second thing I do is locate Cafe Koenig. Why? Remember four posts back when I visited the patisserie in Wissembourg, France with the fantastic macarons? The cashier gave me several articles about the store and one was a write-up in a trade publication. Though in French, the publication contained an article which seem to be profiles on top pastry shops in the Alsace region and one was Cafe King in Baden-Baden. The photo above shows the exterior of Cafe King and the photo below the window display.

I love Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte (Black Forest cake to us Americans) and the slice I have here is historic! Unlike the American version, in Europe alcohol is normally added to the mix. The cake is pictured above and below (minus the piece eaten by yours truly).
Some of the other goodies look good but I'm saving myself for more Black Forest cake later in the day as it's only 930 in the morning.
It rained the whole day--drizzle at times followed by heavy downpours. Most of the photos were taken from the cover of awnings or trees. This is an entrance to the extensive pedestrian-only shopping area.

Tour bus groups are everywhere and are easy to spot as they march along in herds.

The building to the left of the chapel is the entrance to the thermal spa complex.

White building is part of casino complex.

Theater building in distance.
Yep, that's a metal 20 foot tall rose stem you see on the grounds of a villa. I was intrigued by the various works of art on the grounds as well as the villa as there're no signs or even a name on the mailbox. Was it someone's home or an office? German companies can be very secretive. I stopped an older gentlemen walking by and asked if he spoke English. He does and said it's an office for Burda, the German media company. Hmm, that interests me even more. Back in 1999 I attempted to visit the head office of Burda in Munich back in 1999 and nobody would give me the time of day. Burda, a family-owned, privately-held conglomerate with interests in commerical printing, magazine publishing and assortment of other businesses had revenues last year of over $2.5 billion.
So, who's hanging their hat in this villa. Probably avid art collector Frieder Burda, the 74 year old son of Franz Burda, who founded the company back in 1898. I'm guessing Frieder Burda lives in Baden-Baden since he coughed up $25 million to build the Freider Burda Museum here in 2004.

Was able to catch a photo of the cascading water during a lull in the rain.
Look closely on the upper right side of photo and you see a castle--though it looks more like a monastery.
I cycle over to check it out when it starts pouring down rain...for the next few hours. So the photo of the castle wall taken under cover of a large tree is the best I can do. The castle is undergoing a three-year renovation to be turned into a luxury hotel.