There is a place where both common man and rich man can come and experience the best of well-being or bien-être as the French would describe it. The Germans have it and it is called Baden-Baden.
Okay, so perhaps that is a little dramatic but I think I’ve hit the best of good fortune having a cousin live in this amazing spa town.
Baden-Baden is a quiet but not dead place. While internationally friendly, it is obvious from looking around; this is a mainly German traveler destination. Only by the good nature of the German citizens here have I been able to traverse this mountain-tucked town without much problem in the language department. However, BECAUSE of this characteristic, Baden-Baden retains its regional charm, reasonable prices, and a lack of jadedness when it comes to foreigners. Hence, I love it here.
Baden-Baden is the town it is due to natural hot spring water from the mountains that surround it. In this part of Germany the “mountains” would be rather dwarfed for what an American is used to having been both east and west and seen the mountains there. However, these mountains have attracted Pagans, Romans, and everyone else for the high mineral content and healthful effects of the water found there.
There are two main spas here. I have so far only visited the bathing suit wearing one and it was unlike anything I can begin to wonder if the US has as well. I really, really doubt it. The place is a complexed yet organized network of hot tubs, pools, grottos, steam rooms, saunas, showers, and climate controlled lounges that one can move around in at their own leisure for however amount of time they are willing to pay for and I can say that every euro is worth it. Simply luxurious.
Probably going back or to the nude spa tomorrow. Hard to decide!
I’m not sure is this is all of Germany or just Baden-Baden, but I find here I certain degree of relaxedness I’ve never encountered before. No one is uptight that I’m American, let alone a foreigner who doesn’t speak the local language. The atmosphere is low key and earthy. Everyone here is to relax or, like Jessica, is in the business of relaxing. I’m surrounded by organic food, recycling receptacles, natural mineral hot springs, and women whose thighs for once do not resemble toothpicks. For someone like me, this is heaven.
I’ll make the confession on the language level that I have loved this “Liz’s English Week in Baden-Baden” as I’m calling it. Really, what I’ve learned about the French and France this semester is overwhelming to consider. My language skills have shot through the roof from where they started. I’ve gone from “I know a little French” to where I’m being introduced to Europeans by my host family and Jessica as, “This is Liz. She is an American who speaks English and French.”
All the same, being able to take a break and talk in one’s native tongue once in a while has been incredibly good. With an almost religious devotion, I’ve gone to the Anglophone Wednesday Café Meetings almost every week and talked to my Mom and whoever else (Dad, my youngest niece, Aunt Helen, etc.) on Sunday evenings.
The Anglophone Wednesday Café Meetings are mainly made up of Americans like me but we only call it Anglophone because though we only speak English there, more than just Americans come. We get Canadians, Swedes, Mexicans, etc. all of whom show that the general theme is those who are very comfortable speaking English amongst native speakers who, after a hard day’s work of French, crave throwing around a lot, and I do mean a lot, of English slang and word play.
Specifically for me, I just love using “to get.” It isn’t always easy to translate “to get” as it has many key uses in everyday English and allows a speaker to communicate many things with very few different words. Once you get “to get,” I say, the rest of English should be a walk in the park. The only French person I’ve met who understands what I’m saying with that statement has been Pauline, the assistant to AHA’s head coordinator Sue at CIDEF. Pauline is French but studies English and (God bless her) has actually bothered to visit not just easy-to-get-to England but the United States. Girl gets “to get” like no other French person gets it. She obviously had gotten a hold of a lot of English skill state-side as there is no way to even trip her up with very specific and new English (and specifically, American) vocabulary like “tramp stamp.”
Uh, that would be a long story that involves Pauline’s love for getting tattoos and my love to look and learn about them.
Going back to Baden-Baden from that detour.
Looking forward to see what future things await this week and looking for the best way to get to a local nunnery here. It is apparently a local pilgrimage site and I find the Christian presence here very unique as it blends almost seamlessly with the old pagan presence of Barbarian and Roman times. Example: there is a Catholic church here called (in translation) Church of the Three Oaks. Mythology buffs out there will put Northern Europe with three oaks and get the cult of Thor. Because of the mountain springs and hence the association of this place making a person physically well, every culture has also made Baden-Baden a place of spiritual left their mark in some way or another. It makes Baden-Baden an even more interesting place to spend a little vacation time in.
Last note: I've had my first German-made pretzal today at a local bakery where I just communicated for the woman to give me whatever she recommended. She handed me the special of the day, an organically made classic verizon of the dozens of varities. So I've achieved another neccessary bread-related cliche of Europe. Baguettes in France followed by pretzels in Germany.
- Spring Vacation Review (part 3, Provence and goodi...
- Spring Vacation Review (part 2, Strasbourg)
- Spring Vacation Review (part 1, Transportation, An...
- Another List and leaving Avignon Today
- Being in Strasbourg
- Friedrichsbad, something a little different
- Baden-Baden in a little more detail
- Baden-Baden and Me
- Quick Update on the Teacher/Spring Break Thing
- Mardi Café
- Le week-end de Pâques
- Normandy and a lot of other things to tell
- ▼ April (12)