Not quite so cold last night so a better sleep. A bit cloudy today so we decided to backtrack a little and do some sightseeing in the car. We left fairly early and got on the Alpine High Rd to Baden Baden, stopping only at Mummelsee. It's a deep but compact glacial lake high up on a ridge. Lovely to look at, even on a dull day, you can stroll the dirt path around it or hire pedal boats. There's some legend about mermaids and mermen, as due to it's high altitude and chemical composition there are no plants or animals in the water. They've really made the most of this little spot and it's very civilised. A few little touristy stalls, a playground, and a nice looking hotel with a gorgeous cottagey shop and deli on the ground floor. Got some quirky magnets, a busty Bavarian rubber duck for Jason, and some salami sticks for the girls. Would be even better there in the sunshine.
On the road again we made some photo stops at picturesque villages before driving and parking up in Baden Baden, which was more sprawling than I had imagined.
The centre is paved and pedestrian only and is pretty, but not so much in an historic way, more in an upmarket chic way. Even the oldest buildings, the spa itself, the roman ruins and the pumphouse while splendid also have very modern touches. You had to pay for a 3hr session in the spa so that discounted is unfortunately. As Jason said, without the kids we'd have been in there like a flash! We let Em lead us around for a while and she picked a nice leafy beer garden in one if the side plazas for lunch. The waiters and waitresses were all dressed traditionally which she liked. We hd a light lunch and a drink (which megsy slept through) and the kids were given some toys by the staff - very nice. We looked in some of the shops - some extremely high end outlets - and I found a day spa that did waxing. Yay! Could finally be hairfree again! Jason kindly waited with the kids and I had what was the most relaxing and painfree wax ever. The spa itself was gorgeous, very calming and beautiful sounds and smells. The beautician was from Russia and so gentle I hardly felt a thing - although probably not the best idea getting treatments when unable to speak the language as she was a little more...thorough...in the bikini department than I had intended!
I felt very relaxed afterwards and we walked over to the pumphouse which actually holds the tourist info. All of us bar felix tried drinking the warm spa water, and the girls managed more than us adults! The casino next door was grandiose and very high end but I never really see the point of casinos. Not my idea of fun I guess. I thought Baden Baden had a more classical, though eclectic character than other local towns, but would not say no to a week of rest and relaxation here!
We returned to the car and drove to Forbach, home of the longest wooden covered and self supporting bridge in Germany. Very pretty, reminded us of east coast America and Bridges of Madison County though I presume they originated here.
Then on to Calw, a town Jason had picked out of the book as wanting to see. It was characterful, but not as well laid out as some others. It was not too late - about six - but the centre seemed deserted. One of it's claims to fame is the house Herman Hesse (famous german author) was born in and a statue commemorating him. Jason suggested we have dinner out as it was getting late so we found one of surprisingly few restaurants overlooking a square and an old stone bridge with a consecrated tiny chapel on it.
The restaurant was modern but warm, part of a hotel, and quite busy. The waiter kindly translated the menu when he had time and we had an unexpectedly nice meal. All the meals were served with a large side salad. Jason and the girls had technically a hamburger and chips, but they were exceptionally well done and the 'burger' was a melt in the mouth steak. They were kind enough to cut the girls burger in half and serve it on two plates. I had wanted the salmon which was sold out but was recommended a pork dish which turned out to be delicious. It was superbly cooked pork escalope resting on some fresh basil pesto, complemented by slices of polenta serves on a divine tomato chutney. The tomato recipe was apparently the waiters sister's. I am going to try and recreate that dish as it was heavenly. After the meal I took the kids out into the hotel courtyard where there were some balls lying about and we played for a while. All in all a very nice evening. Is so good to enjoy being out with our family rather than stressed. We got back to camp late but were ready to jump straight into bed. No rain thank goodness.