By the time we arrived in Baden-Baden it was already dark outside. This is a city that celebrates it’s long history as a premier spa town. People from all over the world come to enjoy the healing waters, shop, and gamble in the Casino. The main draw, of course, is the spa that sprung up around the springs.
But, our goal wasn’t to enjoy the springs. It was to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in a scenic area and enjoy what the Black Forest had to offer. And it all happened by accident. Our goal initially was to visit Munich but we took a wrong turn on a highway and realized we were only an hour away from the Black Forest. Our weekend was decided. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the Christmas market was already underway.
We were thrilled. We hadn’t been to this market yet. At first glance, it actually looked a little small. But you can’t really see the whole thing from the street. I would classify it as a mid-sized market and since it was the beginning of the season, there weren’t a lot of people there. It was also raining – I suspect it rains and snows a lot in Baden-Baden so if you go, bring your umbrella just in case.
Enjoying the Market
Each Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt in this part of Germany) has the same elements – Gluehwein (mulled wine), food such as German pastries and Bratwurst, and stalls filled wares sold (and perhaps even made) by locals. One year, I bought little handmade straw ornaments tied together with thread and embellished with glitter. That’s how we trimmed our tree.
Before you go any further, just a note about buying beverages at a Christmas Market. They usually involve what’s known as a Pfand. The posted price for mulled wine this year was 3 Euro but the Pfand tacked on an additional 2 Euro. When you bring the mug back, you get the 2 Euro back. So it works like a deposit.
So why travel to visit the different markets? Because even if you’ve been to one before, each city, town, or village brings something special to the table. Can you imagine my surprise when I heard a donkey braying as I was drinking my Gluehwein? Yes, this market boasts a life-sized nativity scene, complete with live farm animals. Kind of cute, don’t you think?
Make Your Own Experience
Besides taking in the atmosphere, I encourage you to make your own experiences. For my husband and I, we love roasted chestnuts. Though they aren’t a traditional element at most markets, being able to snack on them while browsing really adds to the experience for me.
And would you believe that my husband doesn’t even like Gluehwein? For him, a good market is one that offers up an Irish Coffee so that he can have something to sip while I finish my wine. Just because mulled wine is traditional doesn’t mean you have to drink it if you don’t like it.
Getting to Baden-Baden
We got to Baden-Baden by driving. The Autobahn 5 pretty much goes right there. Once you get off the highway, just follow the signs. There is also a regional airport in the area (Karlsruhe/ Baden-Baden) and you might be able to find smaller, connecting flights there. Or, you could fly into Strasbourg because that is only about 60 km away.
Another popular way to get there is by train – Baden-Baden does have a train station.
I highly recommend this market. It was much quieter than some of the larger ones like Munich and Strasbourg (in France) but it was still a good size and left us with plenty to do and enjoy.
Source: Personal experience