Baden-Baden Panoramaweg

View from the old castle, Baden-Baden
View from the old castle, Baden-Baden

It seems like we’re going to be doing a lot of hiking during our trip to Ireland, so yesterday Jan and I decided to get a short practice hike in before we leave. However, Jan also wanted to be back in time to watch the Champion’s League final in football, so we needed to pick somewhere fairly close. Being only about a 30 minute drive from Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden seemed like the perfect choice.

I’ve been to Baden-Baden a few times before, sometimes for events (I saw the musical Evita there), occasionally passing through to catch a flight (Karlsruhe-Baden Airpark is around 12 km west of Baden-Baden) and once, while I was a language assistant, all the teachers went on a daytrip to Baden-Baden, taking in the old castle ruins (pictured above) and an exhibition of Marc Chagall’s work at the Frieder Burda Museum.

The Evangelische Stadtkirche, with a fountain in front of it
The Evangelische Stadtkirche, with a fountain in front of it

For our hike, we decided to do part of the Panoramaweg (Panorama Route) – a hiking trail that goes all the way around the town of Baden-Baden and down into the Geroldauer Tal (valley). It was “Trail of the Year” in 2004 and is considered to be one of the finest footpaths in Germany.  The entire route is 42 km, but for those who don’t have 10-12 hours to spare (or just aren’t fit enough… the latter would be me!!), it’s subdivided into 5 different stretches. You can see the entire route here: http://www.naturparkscout.de/mapbender/frames/index.php?PHPSESSID=26c33f0978997e0137d85ee9839fe707&gui_id=npscout_schwarzwald_public

The individual sub-rotes are:

1. Bernharduskirche – valley station of the Merkurbergbahn funicular railway, 6 Kilometer
2. Merkurbergbahn valley station – Forellenhof / Fischkultur, 8 Kilometer
3. Forellenhof / Fischkultur – Waldparkplatz (forest car park) Malschbach, 10 Kilometer
4. Waldparkplatz Malschbach – Tiergarten, 13 Kilometer
5. Tiergarten – Bernharduskirche, 5 Kilometer

We did roughly the last 3 stretches, although we didn’t actually start at the Forellenhof.

From Karlsruhe, we took the train to Baden-Baden – it was an IRE (Interregio Express), so Baden-Baden was the second stop. From there, we took a bus to Lichtental (see the map I linked to above). It should have been Oberbeueren, but for some reason the bus we took ended at Lichtental so we began our hike there, walking through Lichtental (a district of Baden-Baden) until we found the first sign directing us on to the Panoramaweg.

This way to the Panoramaweg!
This way to the Panoramaweg!

As you can see, the sun was shining, for the first time all week! I was expecting to have to hike in the rain (which admittedly may have been good practice for Ireland!) but we got lucky. About two hours before we finished our hike, it started raining a little, but it stopped after around 20 minutes. Despite the sunshine, it wasn’t the warmest of days (highs of around 12°C), but to be honest I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any warmer! All that exercise generates enough heat of its own…

Oberbeuern and a lot of trees
Oberbeuern and a lot of trees

Most of the route takes you through the woods, occasionally guiding you through a field or a small village.

In the woods
In the woods

The first leg of our hike took us in a circle around Oberbeuern and down into the Geroldsauer Valley, with its gorge, stream and waterfall.

Geroldsau
Geroldsau
Down by the Grobbach stream
Down by the Grobbach stream
The Grobbach
The Grobbach
Geroldsau Waterfall
Geroldsau Waterfall

The waterfall is 9 metres high and looked very pretty with the sun shining on the top of it.

After viewing the waterfall, the route took us through part of Geroldsau, up the hill and back into the woods. A short time later, we reached the Malschbach carpark – part one of the hike done!

Looking down on Geroldsau
Looking down on Geroldsau

Back in the woods, we sptted this pretty looking bird. Anyone know what it is? We didn’t! (Click on the photo for a bigger version if you can’t see the bird among the leaves)

Pretty bird
Pretty bird

The next point of interest was the Louisfelsenhütte – a hut on the Louisfelse, a Felse being a crag and Louis presumably the person said crag was named after.

Louisfelsenhütte
Louisfelsenhütte

I love the slightly overgrown stone steps leading up the the hut! From the top, we had a really nice view of Baden-Baden. This was about 5 minutes before the rain started, so the sky is rather more grey than in previous photos…

Looking down on Baden-Baden
Looking down on Baden-Baden

Three hours later, we were finally back to civilisation!

Welcome to Baden Baden!
Welcome to Baden Baden!

From there, it wasn’t far to our final destination, the Bernharduskirche.

Hurray, we made it!
Hurray, we made it!

From there, it was just a short bus ride back to the train station, with aching legs but a real sense of achievement!

All in all, we walked 27 km (roughly 17 miles) and were on the trail for 7 and a half hours. If Jan’s GPS tracker is to be trusted, 4 of those hours we spent actually on the move, while the rest was stopping to take photos, look at butterflies and eat muesli bars.

The entire route is excellently sign posted, making it almost impossible to get lost. Just look out for the green circles:

Look out for this symbol
Look out for this symbol

Where there’s a fork in the road, the sign also has a little black arrow in the bottom corner telling you where you need to go. And if it’s really confusing, a few metres further along, another green circle lets you know that you did take the right path.

All the start and end points of the individual sub-trails can easily be reached by public transport (if it had been raining heavily, we could have stopped after the first 11 km and taken a bus back to town from the Malschbach carpark). Facilities are hard to come by along the route (although there would have been a small restaurant close to the waterfall), so if you’re squeamish about peeing in the woods, make sure you go before you leave! Decent, waterproof shoes are a must – especially if it’s rained recently (some parts of the trail were very muddy!) And remember, no matter how much your muscles are aching, unless you’ve actually injured yourself, you can keep on walking if you have to! Personally, I would have liked to stop at least an hour before we actually did, but with no choice but to continue, I kept placing one foot in front of the other and surprised myself by making it all the way back to the church. Today, I’m aching all over and walking like an old woman, but it was definitely worth it! Gap of Dunloe, here we come!

Advertisements

In which I prove I’m British by talking about the weather… again

So last night I was sitting in my room writing a letter – yes, some of still do that! – when suddenly I heard a loud drumming sound above me. Yep, you’ve guessed it, it had started to rain and being on the top floor I could hear it landing on the roof. Rain seems a little weak a term for this stuff though – it was so loud that I actually went and looked out of the window to check that it really was just water falling from the sky and not… I don’t know… ice? Bits of rock? Small children? And then it started to thunder. I’m sure you can imagine I didn’t get much sleep last night. Stupid weather. It seems we only got the tail end of the storm though – in Baden-Baden they had winds of 100km an hour (please don’t ask me what that is in miles!) and hail stones, at least so the local news has been telling me all day. (The boss and his wife have gone on holiday so we had the radio on at work… with local news reports every hour and a preview of what they’re going to tell us on the hour half an hour before).

And then there was today.
There is a tram that leaves the stop next to where I work at 2 minutes past the hour. If I leave exactly on the hour I can just about make the tram. That’s how close the stop is. So today I left work, carefully locking the door behind me, and stepped out into the world. By the time I reached the stop I was soaked… and I mean really soaked, to the extent that water from my hair was dripping down my neck and my trousers were practically falling down because they’d become so much heavier than usual. And that within two minutes. I know I’ve said this before but… how can anyone claim we’re not messing up our planet? Weather patterns like this just aren’t normal people!

My night of pretending to be posh

It took me an hour and a half to do my hair last night. I just don’t have the kind of hair that you can do things with. It’s incredibly thick, which hairdressers will tell you is a good thing, but it’s not. Next time you’re in a place that sells hair accessories take a look and see how many of them have a little sticker saying “for thick hair”. If you manage to find more than 3 it will be a miracle. If more than 1 of those is not ugly please tell me where that shop is, I need to go there right now!
Anyway, last night. I knew I couldn’t leave it down, not for a posh restaurant, so it had to go up. My first attempt took 10 minutes and a dozen hair clips. From the front it looked ok, but then I saw the back. It was a mess. So down it came. I then tried putting part of it up and leaving a bit down at the back. It didn’t work. At all. Six tries later I was sweating, exhausted and frustrated, but at least I’d managed to get my hair up. By the time I’d managed to get my make up done we were running late and had to rush into town. Rushing in sandals with heels isn’t good. I now have blisters on the balls of my feet, which hurts a lot and makes it difficult to walk, I won’t be wearing those shoes again for a while! It was worth it though, the rest of the night was amazing!

When we arrived at the hotel we were first shown to our room. Yes, we had a whole room all to ourselves! The nice waiter man took our jackets then suggested that we head over the the bar for some aperitifs. They called it a bar, and there was indeed a bar at one end, but the room itself looked like something in a stately home. It was amazing! Portraits on the wall, nice carpets and posh armchairs everywhere. Wow! We ordered our drinks, which were incredible. I had a cocktail of champagne with strawberry liquer and strawberry juice. To go with our drinks we were rought some hors d’ouvres. Little pieces of bread cut into circles and squares with tiny but perfectly arranged toppings. Fabulous.

After the appertisers we headed back to our room. We were served our starters and the wine expert came by to advise us on what to drink. We started with a sweet white wine that tasted almost like lemonade. Later we switched to a dryer white wine, which I then stuck to for the rest of the night. There was also a red wine to go with the later courses. I tried the red wine but didn’t like it. The starters (can’t remember what they were) were followed by foamed goose liver pate with goose mince arranged on top of it. It tasted a lot nicer than it sounds! Next came the fish course. We had kingfish fillet, which I really enjoyed. Then came something that was called “Flusskrebs” in German. I’ve just looked it up and found out that means crayfish, so there you go. It was quite nice anyway, but I couldn’t have eaten too much of it. Good job posh portions are only little! After the crayfish came the part I had been waiting for all night. Meat! It was ram I believe (trying to translate from the German here). I usually prefer my meat well done, and this was only medium, but it actually tasted incredible. All of these courses were served by 3 or 4 waiters at a time, who then placed the plates in front of us all at once. Before each course our waiter came in and explained what we were about to eat.
The meat was followed by cheese, which was brought in on a huge trolley. A waitress explained what was on the trolley and then put together a selection on a plate. This took a while as she had to do it for each of us individually. And finally we had pudding – a gorgeous chocolate cake, followed by coffee (I had cappucino), little chocolate covered fruit sweets (the waiter insisted that everyone had to take at least one) and finally some liqeur. We all chose a pear one which came from Vorarlberg in Austria. I had to go for that one of course because I used to live there. I was told that the final bill came to over 2,000 euros. Wow! Jan insisted on paying for my share. I have such a wonderful boyfriend 🙂

So that was my posh night out. I would definitely recommend everyone to do it at least once, it’s an amazing experience. And I found out this morning that Baden Baden and Brenner’s Park Hotel are on the list of 10,000 places to visit before you die. Only 9,999 places to go then 😉

Shoes and other things that girls worry about before a night out

Loking at my stats, I’m quite pleased to see that my bookcrossing blog got 25 views yesterday and another 5 today. Now if only all 30 of those people have signed up things would be perfect. The more bookcrossers there are out there the higher the liklihood that I’ll find a free book lying around just begging for me to take it home and read it. Free books are definitely among my favourite things in the world. Actually, I quite like anything that I don’t have to pay for, but books are definitley among the best.
Good old Joachim Loew and his cigarette are still getting me a lot of traffic as well. His nickname is Jogi you know, which amuses me greatly. In German a ‘j’ is pronounced like an English ‘y’, so Mr. Loew shares his name with a certain cartoon bear. *snigger*

I’m feeling quite excited today. Jan and I are off to Baden Baden tonight with 6 other people. We’re going to a rather posh hotel called Brenner’s Park. I’m not sure how many stars it has… 4? 5? I just know it’s posh. And we’re going to have a 6 course meal there. Six courses! I don’t know how I’ll fit it all in! I’ve spent the whole morning making random comments like “I really need to pluck my eyebrows” and “I’m not sure what shoes to wear”. I expect Jan was quite pleased to escape back to his flat where he’s going to do computer sciency type stuff until it’s time to get ready. He wanted me to meet him at Marktplatz later so we can get the tram to the train station together, but I insisted that he come here first so I can take a photo of us in our posh clothes. It’s not often that I get an opportunity to get dressed up in posh clothes. I need photographic evidence to prove that it is actually possible for me to look good.

I have to go and write another job application now. This time for a company in Mannheim. Then I can get back to wondering what on Earth I’m going to do with my hair tonight.