Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Snow!! And, unrelatedly, Baden-Baden.

It's snowing big, fat snowflakes!! This is the first snow I've seen falling this year, and it's happening after half the trees are already in bloom. We missed whatever snow they had in Heidelberg over Christmas. Cool!

Last weekend we had a great visit from my friend Mary, who came over from the States, spent a few days in Koeln, and then came down to Heidelberg. Our paths have unfortunately not crossed that often since college so it was really great to spend some time together, and it put my mind back on a lot of old times that I really hadn't thought about in a while.

On Mary's second day here, we took a trip down to Baden-Baden, a nearby town which we'd been meaning to see since we moved to Germany. Baden-Baden is a different type of place. The typical little German town might have a Marktplatz with some half-timber houses, a church or two with some sort of significance, maybe some bits of town wall here or there and an Eis cafe. Baden-Baden is, as its name suggests, known for its baths and has been a resort town even since the days that Mark Twain came through. A stone-paved canal runs through the center, there's ritzy shopping, a long, beautiful park, a casino, lots of hotels, and of course the baths.

Baden-Baden Mar 08

Near Friedrichsbad (Frederick's Bath) there's a spigot* with thermal spring water running through which you can feel and taste. I wasn't expecting it but the water actually felt really nice even just on my hands. Maybe I'll be converted to this whole bath concept yet. I didn't taste it, but Mary and Damon reported that it was really salty. A sign warned people not to drink over a certain small amount each day.

The downside to Baden-Baden was the remoteness of the train station. We had to take a somewhat long bus ride, which was made even longer on our way home by tons of Sunday traffic. A woman on the bus overheard our English conversation and wanted to know what happened to "our wonderful dollar", and asked "isn't the health care there terrible?" Oh, so blunt.

We finished the day at the somewhat touristy Zum Seppl restaurant/bar in Heidelberg. The food was mediocre but the inside of the place is pretty cool to see at least once.

*Who else pronounces it "spicket"?? American hick dialects represent!


  1. Ah, yes, but bluntness is good!

    My son spent last year in Freiburg. His new friends certainly wanted to visit the US, but had no intention of wishing to live here. They had heard enough about firearms in the home and lack of universal health care.

    Meanwhile, there are many people in the US absolutely convinced that this is still the best country while also being the only Western country that believes health care should be for only those who can afford it.

    More people should travel or preferably, spend extended time in another country.

    KarenM in NC

  2. We're being threatened with snow at the end of the week. I hope it doesn't happen.

    It's not pronounced 'spicket'?

  3. It is easier to get a handgun in Germany than in my home state - and health insurance is only universal in Germany as long as you enter the system by a particular age (a big problem for foreign grad students) and aren't working free-lance. Then you can find yourself up exactly the same creek as an uninsured citizen of the States.

    Anyhoo, I think the question was whether complete strangers should impose their unwelcome opinions on others in public spaces. I vote NO.

    Our weather is completely wacky today too! Baden-Baden is strange - so many other parts of Baden seem so down to earth, not Baden-Baden.

    I am _not_ from the sticks (see the no guns thing) and we say "spicket".

  4. Weird! We selected very similar pictures to put up:

    It was great to see you two.

  5. I don't know how you can get legally a gun in Germany unless U have a pretty good reason. U need a Waffenschein (issued by the City Adminstration) and only after thorough perusal by the police. Health Insurance is available for every German citizen even if you are at university.

  6. spicket! holla!!
    i do not miss snow, but i'm glad YOU'RE excited about it. ;)

  7. It is a funny trait that the Germans assume you agree with them when talking politics. At least, that is what it feels like when they express their opinion some times; as if that opinion were the only opinion available. Does it feel like that because we're not German, or is it really like that?

    I still get a lot of people asking us - aren't you going the wrong way, i.e., what Americans would want to live in Germany? And don't the Germans usually want to go to your country?

  8. Karen: I agree that traveling or living abroad are great, educational experiences that I wish were available to more people.

    J: My pronunciation dictionary (yeah, I'm that kind of nerd) lists both SPIK-ut and SPIG-ut as correct. But my husband always makes fun of me for "spicket" so I assume it's some kind of rural thing. :) Maybe it's not!!

    Ann-ona-moose: Your assessment of Baden-Baden is spot-on; I just couldn't think of the right words for it. Re: "spicket", see my response to J above. :)

    Mary: Cool! :)

    Sara: As long as I don't have to drive in it or shovel it!

    Gardner: I think Germans might assume that if you are in Germany, you're part of a self-selected group which agrees more with their politics. Who knows? We also always get the comment about how people normally move in the other direction! Oh well, at least it can provide some conversation. :)


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