Almost two years ago we spent some 2.5 months in Europe spanning France, Germany, Balkans and Adriatic. It was a trip I did mostly on my own with three small children (ages 8, 5, and 1) with occasional friends or family joining us while hubby worked back in Canada but he did manage to get 2 weeks or so to join us for a bit.
What I forgot to include before and I fixing now is our time in Germany, specifically, edge of Black Forest and Frankfurt where we spent one week. When I was a child, there was a show on TV called The Black Forest Clinic (Die Schwarzwaldklinik) and I always admired the paysage. I don't think I imagined that one day I would be visiting. Technically, we were only on the outskirts of the Black Forest and I am hoping for a better visit next time to venture in deeper into the forest where Hansel and Gretel encountered the wicked witch.
It is in the foothills of the Black Forest, on the banks of the Oos River close to France and Switzerland. It is a very beautiful sleepy little town that is quite expensive which is not at all the surprising knowing its history of attracting royals, the rich, the artists and celebrities. Town has an air of elegance and luxury, but the time has not passed it by like some other places we visited. It is very well maintained and very much still the place to come to relax and enjoy colonnaded buildings, manicured parks, intertwined neo-baroque and art-nouveau styles, thermal baths, villas and spas surrounded by forest.
During the 19th century, the town rose to become a meeting place for celebrities, who were attracted by the hot springs as well as by the famous Baden-Baden Casino, the luxury hotels, the horse races, and the gardens of the Lichtentaler Allee. Clients included Queen Victoria, Wilhelm I, Napoleon III, Berlioz, Brahms, Turgenev, and Dostoyevsky.
Baden-Baden is a setting in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (though the city is given a different name), as well as for Turgenev's novel Smoke. Baden-Baden at that time nicknamed the European summer capital and reached its zenith under Napoleon III during the 1850s and 1860s. The Russian writer, Dostoevsky, wrote The Gambler while compulsively gambling at the Baden-Baden Casino. Johannes Brahms' local residence, the Brahmshaus, can still be visited today.
During this week in Germany, we also made the trip to Frankfurt. I still had the rental car with me as I got upgraded for free to Mercedes S350 because I could only drive automatic - needless to stay, Mercedes and Autobahn go really well together. I digress, I extended the car as it was worthwhile for $30/day so we could do a few day trips. One such was to Frankfurt before I took the car back to Strasbourg and made a trip out of that as well - but that is for another post.
In Frankfurt I have a cousin who played host while we were there and showed us around. City is very nice and very different from what we've seen in France. Just looking at this St. Bartholomew's cathedral you can see what I am talking about.
You can read more about these travels and amazing time we had here: