We were naked as Jaybirds!  I’ll get back to this later.

The featured image for this post was our last evening at sea on our Baltic cruise.  It is a sail boat in the far distance.  Although pricey, we are glad we took this cruise to experience places we would probably not have gone to as a stand-alone trip.  Although, under the right circumstances, we would love to see more of Stockholm.  Maybe a Nobel Prize would do it.

Hamburg

After getting off the train, which had been loaded onto a ferry (my mind is still spinning over that part), we stayed overnight in a Hamburg hotel.  The walk from the train station to the hotel was very wet.  The next morning, we decided to use our luggage rain covers.  They work great … when you use them.

 

Trier

After a 5-hour train ride followed by a shorter one, we arrived in the lovely old city of Trier.  Our apartment was very nice, with a beautiful view over the back garden and into the hills.  The first thing we did was find a laundromat.  It was a 30-minute walk.  While our clothes frolicked in the machines, we ate dinner.  Overall, a successful evening.

This image is of Porta Nigra, the original Roman gate into Trier.

 

Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena lived here and was instrumental in making sure this city had a proper church.  Trier might be slightly over-churched.  This second image shows the oldest Christian church in Germany.  It is the Roman one on the left.  Right next to this is a later, Gothic church.  I’ve included some interior images from the Roman church.  Note the unusual organ pipe arrangement.  The cloisters were a joy to walk through.

  

  

A highlight of our German leg was the trip to Cochem for our cruise on the Mosel River to Beilstein.  This small midlevel town is referred to as the Sleeping Beauty of the Mosel. Camping along the Mosel is a German institution.  Many set up their campsites right after Easter and leave them for the season.  This strategy gives them their weekend or longer getaways in a most beautiful location.

The Mosel region is full of vineyards.  A majority of them are on steep inclines, some almost look vertical.  Being German vineyards, they are perfectly straight.  Order is a priority after all.

 

Baden-Baden

Our train car became a party when eight adults came aboard after our first stop.  Out came the wine bottles and glasses, tons of food, and non-stop laughter.  It was rather contagious fun.  I was impressed how quickly they gathered up everything and detrained so efficiently … but once again, Germans.

When I purchased our train tickets they were to take us all the way to Baden-Baden.  However, one stop before our destination, we were told the train only went to Rastatt because there was maintenance going on in between these two cities.  We would be taken to Baden-Baden by bus.  I was not quite ready for the chaos that ensued.  A whole train load of people started squeezing into the buses that were waiting.  I was somewhat confused and asked an ‘almost English speaking’ train personnel what the procedure was.  I didn’t know if we had to buy tickets or just stuff ourselves into the buses.  I thought he said we needed to buy tickets but Marsha was observing something different … people, with their luggage, jockeying into position for the 30-minute, hot, stuffy ride to Baden-Baden.  When we finally oozed out of this bus, we took another one to the town center and then climbed up above the city to our great apartment.  My shirt felt like it just came out of the washer; we were soaked.  Our apartment was a corner room with windows.  We quickly opened up the place and enjoyed some cold, bottled water our host had waiting for us.  We eventually cooled down, changed clothes, and went out exploring that evening.

Baden-Baden is a spa town dating back to the Romans.  About 150 years ago this was the place for Europe’s royalty and aristocracy to come and ‘take the waters’ in the baths.  The two most famous are the Friedrichsbad (1877 Roman-Irish Bath) and the Caracalla Spa (more modern).

On our second day, we went to the adults only, Friedrichsbad spa.  This has a 17-step process: shower, warm air bath, hot air bath, shower, soap & brush massage, shower, 2 thermal steam baths, thermal full bath, thermal whirlpool, thermal exercise bath, shower, cold water bath (‘cold’ cannot quite describe this pool), dry off, cream massage (we passed on this), relaxation room (actually it was a circular, quiet room where they swaddled you in sheets and blankets for a 30-minute nap), and finally a reading room.  And we did this completely naked!  We were surprised at being so comfortable with this.  Everyone was the same.  And hey … we are 66 … who cares?

The next day we went to the Caracalla Spa, your fundamental German, family spa complete with bathing suits. The main section was basically different pools and aroma rooms. It was nice, but there were way too many kids.  No, we are not getting old and crabby but … “Hey! Get off my lawn!”

The second floor had a wide variety of saunas and steam rooms.  This section was garment-free.  The outdoor wood-heated saunas were very nice.  We ended our spa day here by spending a few minutes in the Blue Space Sensory Room lying on contoured, translucent, lounges that emitted blue light, sound, and vibrations.

Compared to spas in the US, these were very reasonable.  We would come back to Baden-Baden just for the Friedrichsbad.

The image below is from our walk on Baden-Baden’s river promenade.

 

Next week we will be in Munich and Berlin.  I’m pretty sure we will be challenged from the history of these two cities.  Until then, try something new; we sure did!

 

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We look forward to hearing from you.

Preston & Marsha

Don’t Retire: Reload – Groovin’ on the Flip Side