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Published: April 14th 2019
View of the city from one of the surrounding hills.
My first full semester as a lecturer at a university of applied sciences had been pretty packed, and as much fun as the teaching is, preparing and giving seven 90-minute lectures per week is quite a challenge. I had no material from my predecessors that I could use, so I had to prepare everything from scratch. Some of the subjects, like for example personnel psychology or digitalization in HR, were not that hard to prepare, but there were other subjects that I had last studied during my undergraduate degree myself, so my weeks were seven-day-weeks. Consequently, I was glad once the semester was over and very much looking forward to a long weekend in the town of Baden-Baden. My mum had given me the trip as a birthday present. I caught a train from Dortmund to Stuttgart, and my mum welcomed me at the train station. She lives close to Stuttgart, still in the small town that I grew up in.
The weather was splendid, so we had lunch in the garden of a restaurant and then headed off towards Baden-Baden. The city is a health resort because of its hot springs. The first ones to discover this were the
Protestant city church with a beautiful fountain in the foreground.
Romans, and consequently they built all kinds of baths there. In the late 18th century it was re-discovered as a health resort and developed more and more. Consequently, there are a lot of buildings from the 19th and early 20th century, giving the city a mundane atmosphere. Baden-Baden is beautifully located at the edge of Black Forest on the river Oos.
We arrived there in the early afternoon, after having gone through a few traffic jams – as you do on a Friday afternoon in Germany. My mum had booked a room at Hotel Badischer Hof, a former Grand Hotel that still maintained some of its former character. The hotel is located at one end of the city, so after checking in we walked along the river into the city and had coffee and fantastic cakes at Café König, one of the most traditional cafés in the city. They not only make their own cakes and cream cakes, but also chocolate, and they have a very pretty outside sitting area in the shade of old trees overlooking the pedestrian area. We spent the afternoon walking around the city. My mum had been here before, but I had not. There
... where the composer Johannes Brahms lived for some time, in the district of Lichtental.
are many hotels, restaurants and cafés. There is also the bath and the springs, of course. And there are a famous casino, a festival house, and various parks. After our afternoon walk, we had a dinner outside by the river Oos and then had an early night because we were both tired.
The next morning, we had a lovely breakfast out on the hotel veranda and then gave ourselves a real treat: a wonderful massage and then some relaxing and reading. Later in the morning we headed out to visit the house where the composer Johannes Brahms had lived for some time. The house is not right in the city centre, but in the district of Lichtental. One can reach it by walking down an avenue called Lichtentaler Allee that runs through a beautiful park along the river Oos. Or one can go by car, but then one has to take a detour through a tunnel. We did the latter since walking would have been a bit too far for my mum. The house is rather small, located just above a side road on a hillside. Mr Brahms had lived on the top floor with a few small rooms,
Kloster Lichtenthal I
The fountain in the courtyard of the Cistercian abbey.
from 1865 to 1874 during the summer months. This meant that he was also able to live close to Clara Schumann, whom he was a close friend of and most likely also in love with, but they never became a couple. There are a lot of pictures of the famous composer, and I got a bit of a feeling of what kind of person he might have been. It was also very helpful that the lady who was in charge of selling the ticket, a volunteer dedicated to maintaining the composer’s heritage, gave a lot of information and was not only very knowledgeable, but also very enthusiastic.
Within walking distance from the Brahms house there is an abbey of Cistercian nuns, Kloster Lichtenthal. It is 750 years old. The gothic church dates from the 14th and 15th century, and the wall and gate were built in the 18th century. There are still Cistercian nuns there. They have a guest house and offer spiritual guidance, but there is also a primary school. And there was a wedding taking place in the church when we got there. I particularly enjoyed the calm and peaceful atmosphere in the courtyard, with the fountain
Kloster Lichtenthal II
Entrance gate with the courtyard in the background.
in its centre and the old trees surrounding it. There is also a café, and since the cakes looked very good, we sat down and had coffee and cake. Afterwards we took a stroll into the park with its wonderful old trees, flower beds, and pavilions. Afterwards we headed back into town to relax a bit before heading out for dinner.
On Sunday morning we again had a wonderful breakfast on the hotel veranda before taking a walk up the hill to enjoy the view of the city. Then we walked into Gönneranlage, a stunningly beautiful rose garden with all kinds of different roses. Simply beautiful, there is not much more that I can say. On our way back we passed the fancy “Brenners Park Hotel and Spa”, a very traditional and well-known plush hotel. And guess what? We had coffee and cake there, sitting outside in the garden enjoying our time there. Another little treat! Afterwards we felt refreshed and ready for a visit to Museum Frieder Burda, a museum of modern art. The building itself is a piece of art: It was designed by architect Richard Meier and what I found very significant about the building were
Lichtentaler Allee I
The tree-lined road connecting the city centre and the district of Lichtental.
the straight lines, the brightness of the entire building, and the vast amounts of light that the big windows let into the building.
There was an exhibition of light artist James Turrell. His art could be called “perceptual art”. He uses light in a way that challenges the spectator’s perception. For example, in one room (the installation is called “Apani”) we could spend some time and while the light was changing, I had the feeling that we were somehow entering infinity. The walls had completely disappeared. This is called “ganzfeld”, a homogenous visual field that leads to sensory deprivation. It was originally used in experimental psychology, later on also in parapsychology. The idea is that sensory deprivation in the ganzfeld leads to better perception of psi-mediated input. There were more light installations, all of which trick our perception. Moreover, there were pictures of installations he had set up in other places. For example, in Roden Crater in Arizona, an extinct volcano, the artist is in the process of designing a sky observatory. His work is very hard to describe, but he has some of it displayed on his website http://jamesturrell.com/
. After our visit to the museum my mum took
Lichtentaler Allee II
View from one of the pavilions towards the flower beds and into the park.
some time to relax, while I went for a run along Lichtentaler Allee. Later on we had dinner in town.
The next morning, after a last wonderful breakfast out on the hotel veranda, we started heading back to Stuttgart. We decided not to use the highway, but instead to take one of the scenic routes through Black Forest. This allowed us to make a stop-over at Kloster Hirsau, a former Benedictine monastery that is now dilapidated. The site is really ancient: The first chapels were built in the 8th and 9th century, the monastery was first built in the late 11th century and at times was one of the most significant monasteries in Germany and a place in which quite a few reforms of church originated over the centuries. Nowadays, there are a few outbuildings left, a church, a Romanesque bell tower, and the remains of a cloistered courtyard. It has a wonderful atmosphere and I really enjoyed being there, between the dilapidated walls and the old trees. However, we could not spend too much time there, but had to go back to Stuttgart so that my mum could drop me off at the train station and I could
Bridge over the river Oos leading into the beautiful rose garden.
catch a train back to Dortmund. I really enjoyed Baden-Baden, I think it is another city in Germany that is very worthwhile visiting, and I hope I can go back one day and explore a little more of it.
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