The Black Forest

Baden Baden, Germany

Here’s a series of photographs from a trip Vic & I made to the Black Forest in early spring.

The journey down there was harrowing. On the Autobahn the slow lane is too slow, the middle lane is too fast, and the fast lane is ridiculous. It was all I could do to keep our tiny rental on the road as cars blew past us. Vic and I do not drive well together to begin with — she’ll insist I’m driving too fast and I’ll insist on ignoring her — so we were relieved when we’d made it to our destination.

A wind turbine in green fields seen beside the Autobahn on the way to Baden Baden Looking up at the church steeples of Bamberg Cathedral
Peering up at a stone clock tower in Bamberg. A jet and its contrails are seen overhead
A pastel-pink church clock tower spotted in Bamberg The old city hall in Bamberg: A tudor-style building sitting alone in the middle of two canals
Tudor cottages and their waterfront gardens along a canal in Bamberg. A black barge moored in front
Hanging branch of a Cherry Blossom tree in Bamberg 'Centurione 1', a sculpture by Igor Mitoraj, depicting a mans head with scalp absent. Seen along the canals of Bamberg
A street leading down to the canals of Bamberg An ironclad postbox painted yellow

Scenes from a brief diversion we made to the postcard town of Bamberg

We stayed in Baden Baden to visit the Friedrichsbad, an old roman bath from the 1800s. The experience was “traditionally german,” which of course meant we’d be naked the whole time. After stripping off in the changing rooms, we proceeded to the entrance where, to my horror, we were greeted by staff who still had their clothes on. I looked about frantically for reassurance that we were, in fact, meant to be naked already. None came. The attendant was unfazed and showed us through to the first chamber. I noted the presence of other naked people there with some relief.

We were cooked for 3 hours in a series of baths and saunas — pausing briefly to be massaged in between. I use the term “massage” here with some reservation. It was a vigorous all-over scraping with a coarse brush. “Punishment” might better describe it. It turns out 3 hours of relentless exposure is enough to convert even the most awkward of nudes. I was pretty comfortable with my own bareness by the end of it.

A grand, gold and silver church organ in Bamberg The green, oxidising iron dome of the Friedrichbad in Baden Baden. As seen from a hill nearby

At right: the iron dome of Friedrichbad, a bath built in the 1800s in response to public demand for nudity. Even the name of the town, Baden Baden, means "Bathing Bathing"

Besides the baths, we made a day trip into the Black Forest which was anything but black in the early spring. I’m a sucker for a good castle and Altes Schloß, an old ruin overlooking Baden Baden, was a classic. We took a long walk through the woods, spotting not much more than a field mouse. There was a decided lack of hooded bandits and swordsmen.

Altes Schloß, a castle ruin overlooking the Black Forest

Altes Schloss overlooking Baden Baden and the Black Forest beyond

A pathway leading around Altes Schloßinto the Black Forest. Lush green trees all around Vic disappearing out of the dungeons of Altes Schloß into the daylight

After settling on a strategy for how to weather the drive home without killing each other, we had a pleasant journey back. It’s been hard to escape Berlin during our time here so we were glad we’d made the effort to get out and see more of Germany.