Day 10 (June 22, 2018 – Baden Baden, Germany): “Black Forest Business”
It was about 5:40am when I awoke. This was about 40 minutes later than I expected to get up because I didn’t hear the alarm. The issue was that Julie had closed the door to the room that I was sleeping in as Tahia and I traded places. She was apparently too scared after seeing something on TV that really scared her while I was randomly flipping channels last night.
So I quickly ate some kefir with berries and banana, and then I was quickly out the door. By 6:15am, I had recovered the car, paid about 17.8 euros for the amount of time parked last night, and then I headed out on my own.
The traffic was somewhat light at this time of the morning though it did seem as if the city was starting to come alive with commuters as the streets weren’t totally empty. Regardless, it didn’t take much time before I found myself on a twisty mountain road on the most direct path south towards Todtnau.
I had originally contemplated heading southwest towards Staufen am Breisgau, but it was too far out of the way for the limited time in the morning that I was going to be out and about while Julie and Tahia were allowed to sleep in.
The drive went by pretty smoothly, though the GPS managed to route me onto a spur road that ascended to the top of the Todtnauer Waterfall, where the road was headed up to the town of Todtnauerberg. I managed to get there at 6:55am, and it was quite chilly as the car had indicated that it got as low as 3 degrees C.
There was a little bit of a windchill. Yet, I took the time to look at a large map signboard that suggested that there was quite a ways to go down to the bottom of the falls, and I suspected that this upper starting point wasn’t the most optimal.
So I returned to the car, then went back down the way I went up before turning towards the town of Todtnau. At one of the hairpin turns on the descent, I saw the cafe doubling as the entrance spot for the waterfall. There was also a very long pullout where I could park the car, then follow a footpath right back towards the waterfall trail entrance.
At 7:05am, that was where I stopped the car, quickly got my gear, and then started the walk.
I could see that this place would normally collect a fee, but the gate itself wasn’t closed or anything, and it was pretty much open access to continue the slightly uphill walk leading right to the falls after about 6 minutes.
There was a shelter as well as a few of these wooden lay-down chairs (for lack of a better term) to recline and enjoy the sounds of the falling water. Regardless, I could see that this waterfall was impressively tall, and it was quite unlike the Triberg Waterfalls that we saw yesterday in that this was more of a singular waterfall (Triberg’s Waterfall was more of a multi-part affair).
I didn’t bother with any of the other connecting trails switchbacked their way up alongside the falls to the top, and neither did I take the traiil going down all the way to town. Indeed, I just enjoyed the falls all alone while the sun remained behind the surrounding cliffs so it wouldn’t force me to virtually look against the sun at the falls.
By about 7:55am, I was back in the car. Along the way, there was one other lady who was about to go on her own walk to the falls. So even though I was alone for the entire time, I noticed that it probably wouldn’t be that way for long.
Next, I drove back to Freiburg even though I had contemplated taking a detour towards Staufen again. But with so many waterfalls that I had planned to see on this day, I continued heading back towards Freiburg along a wider but similarly twisty road along the L126, which eventually took me back onto the expressway at the 31 between Hollensteig and Freiburg.
I eventually entered the city from the east like yesterday before returning to the Karlsbau parking structure at 8:30am. When I made it back to the apartment, I saw that Julie and Tahia were still in the middle of having breakfast and they still weren’t packed. And it wouldn’t be until about 9:45am when we finally made it back to the car to start the day.
This made me wonder if I could have gone to Staufen after all. Oh well, what was done was done. There was still lots to do on this day and the first order of business was to drive north out of Freiburg along the 3 then on the 294 behind a long caravan of slow drivers again (just like it was when we headed to Triberg yesterday).
We’d eventually leave the long tunnel just east of Wolfach, and that was where we finally left the 294 and continued north towards Bad Rippoldsau, where we’d finally arrive at the signed car park for the Burgbach Waterfall at 11:10am.
From my trip research, I thought that I was in for a bit of an extended walk. So I let Julie and Tahia stay in the car and keep on catching some Zs napping while I was doing this hike solo.
The hike itself was pretty straightforward as I followed a local’s road up past some homes before the trail deviated from the road. After about 20 minutes, I was then on a more conventional narrow footpath though it climbed even more steeply than the uphill road that I had walked to get to that point.
Eventually, I joined up with another trail junction where the signs pointed me to continue left and make the final uphill towards the base of the Burgbach Waterfall.
Unfortunately, once I got there at 11:45am, the lighting on this falls was pretty much right up against the sun. That said, there were some trees blocking the sun’s rays somewhat though I really had to position myself strategically to take advantage of it.
I also tried to compose photos of the falls from higher up the steep slope though that scrambling was a bit on the awkward side, and the further away I got from the falls, the more the sun became a nuissance.
So after getting my fill of the falls, I quickly made my way back down to the car park at 12:10pm. That was when the car park was suddenly full of cars. Apparently, this place was quite the popular spot.
Next, we continued our drive towards Oppenau. The GPS had routed me to take the B500 then cut across towards the town as well as the next targeted waterfall at Allerheiligen. However, Julie’s phone navigation took me on a much more roundabout path.
That costly detour probably left about a half-hour or so on the road. Regardless, we’d get to the town of Oppenau at 12:55pm, and we managed to find the restaurant that Julie had targeted to eat lunch at. This place was called Balhaus Rebstock, and it was in a pretty charming building protruding out onto the neighboring canal or stream passing through town.
The interior of the restaurant had quite a bit of an old-world charm to it, and the food we ended up eating was a nice blend of beef rump steak along with some local trout. Tahia shared what we were having.
I had to use a bit of my German to get by on the communication issues, especially since we had to make sure that Julie couldn’t have anything with gluten in it (which was turning out to be quite the challenge in our travels throughout Germany so far). And we also started to take better advantage of using Google Translate though it still helps to know some of the German grammar so the Google Translate can be even more powerful than just blindly entering in an expression and trying to repeat it to a German-speaking person with limited English.
It wouldn’t be until about 2:25pm when we returned to the car. By this time, the sun seemed to have disappeared behind a thicker layer of clouds.
Next, we drove towards the Allerheiligen Waterfall, which was just a short distance north of town. The falls itself was well-signed, and we eventually arrived at a fairly spacious car park at a hairpin turn at around 2:35pm.
We then entered the trail, where a sign indicated that it was merely 0.4km to get to the falls, but it was 1.3km to get up to the Roman cloister ruins (or klosterruine). However, the falls was really more of a series of waterfalls that the trail went besides.
The first couple of waterfalls were small and attractive, but it was really the third waterfall that had an impressive pair of drops. We kept walking up the steps to see if there were any more waterfalls, and after getting up to what I called the fourth waterfall (which were really more smaller cascades), we pretty much turned around when we saw that the trail had flattened out.
By about 3:35pm, we were back in the car, then we continued driving up the road and eventually parking at the well-signed P1/P2 lot by the Klosterruine Allerheiligen at 3:40pm. We then promptly walked a short distance along the small access road to get up to the ruins themselves, where there was a cafe next door to it.
Tahia figured out that these ruins were Roman because she saw Roman numerals on some of the inscriptions of the artifacts on display there.
At 4:10pm, we returned to the car, and then we continued driving towards Baden-Baden. Eventually, after passing by a busy scene at the Mittersee (wasn’t sure what that was but there were tour buses there), we then arrived at a signpost for the Geroldsauer Wasserfall at 4:50pm.
However, when I saw that there was some guesthouse, and that it was a 1.4km walk to the falls from here, I realized that there ought to be a closer trailhead and access point than that.
So we continued driving, and we’d eventually get onto the narrow Geroldsaustrasse, which was pretty much 30km/h through the small village before we got onto a forested road leading us to a pullout with room for perhaps less than half-dozen cars. There were two vehicles already there when we pulled up.
From there, we backtracked down the road until we saw the “Zum Wasserfall” signs pointing the way down to the waterfall itself. There was a shelter there where a family was chilling out. The smell of cigarette smoke was strong as someone in that family was lighting up.
This was an easy waterfall to visit though it was probably one of the smaller ones as well. Still, there was an air of intimacy with this quaint falls, and if it weren’t for the cigarette smoke in the air, it would probably be quite the place to chillax for a while.
It wouldn’t be until about 5:40pm when we finally made it to the Vicentistrasse Car Park, which was on the northeastern end of the zentrum of Baden-Baden.
From there, we had to walk down the cobblestoned streets and sidewalks as we had a little trouble finding the apartment. It wasn’t until Julie asked a local that we realized that we were on the wrong side of the street.
Eventually, we got to the Royal Apartments and followed the email instructions to get the key out of the mailbox, and then get into the building. But once we got into the interior of our room, that was when we saw just how baller it was.
Indeed, the yellow rugs with elegant wallpapered walls and shiny brass frames mixed with wooden furniture made this place seem like we had just stepped into some aristocratic abode. And it added to the high culture that Baden-Baden was known for (or at least its famous casino at the Kurhaus).
It was about 6:20pm when we were getting settled in the apartment, and then Julie and Tahia went downstairs to the local supermarket to buy some food for dinner and breakfast. However, when they returned at 7:35pm, Julie was disappointed that they didn’t have any meats. In fact, we would have to drive well out of town to find a bigger town with such products.
Eventually at 7:40pm, we started walking around town looking for this Thai-Vietnamese restaurant as we were getting a bit tired of German food (or at least the gluten free steaks and insert other meat here like fish, chicken, pork, etc.). This place was called Zamui, and it seemed like we were the only ones there.
The food was relatively reasonably priced compared to how much we had spent eating out throughout this trip, and the crispy duck curry that I got along with Julie’s king prawns curry, and Tahia’s goi guong definitely hit the spot.
After the dinner, it was starting to get chilly, but we still seized the moment and walked around town exploring the shopping arcades and cafes as we tried to see what we could get away with at the Casino. When we’d eventually make it to that Kurhaus Casino, we were only able to explore the lobby.
Unfortunately with Tahia in tow and our peasant-like attire, we knew that we would be unable to experience the action and the old world high-roller ambience that we were aware was going on inside.
Afterwards, as the skies were continuing to get darker, we then went over to the nearby Trinkhaller, which was an impressive building fronted by arches and a hallway with some frescoes. Even with the low light, there was a bit of an intimate glow to our photos from here.
Then, Julie and Tahia were getting tired so they started to retreat back to the apartment. Meanwhile, I was determined to check out the Lichtentaller Allee, which was said to be the top thing to do in Baden-Baden without doing any of the baths or the casino.
As I made it to the streamside outdoor walk, which was lined with trees and some baller-looking hotels on the other side of the stream, I tried to soak in the ambience.
Normally, being out alone in a park like this at night wouldn’t be the wisest thing to do, but I didn’t feel such a threat to my own safety here as many couples were going out for romantic strolls while the younger ones were busy causing trouble by honking their horns and creating attention to themselves over some World Cup related thing.
Perhaps I had to keep playing tourist in order to disarm any perceived notion of me being that creep loitering around the Lichtentaller Allee alone and up to no good or something like that.
By about 10:25pm, I had finally returned to the apartment after the end of my whirlwind tour of Baden-Baden. Julie and Tahia actually waited for me to return because the doors were locked and only they had the key. So in hindsight, they probably should have gone with me to the Lichtentaller Allee to really soak in the experience and seize the moment as they were probably waiting for me for about a half-hour as they were getting worried about me.
And with that, we spent the rest of the night getting cleaned up and trying not to make more noise than necessary as the floors had that wooden creak to it, which meant that the neighbors below could probably hear our footsteps.
The shower felt comfortable, and even though Tahia insisted that she sleep on the twin bed next to Julie, I was fine sleeping in the living room couch (as I couldn’t figure out how to pull out the bed part underneath)…