A Trip-Trip to Baden-Baden

Silent station
From Köln it takes about 2.5 hours to make it to Baden-Baden, with a short stop-over in Karlsruhe. The French influence is still present here, as this was French-controlled territory after WWII, and France itself is only 10 Kilometers away. Baden-Baden would probably be a different experience, I told my wife, if one were rich.  I window-shopped and saw a wristwatch on sale for €27,000.  There was a cheaper one for a respectable €5000. Rumor has it Egyptian president Muhammad Mubarak comes once a year to stay in a €300/night 5-Star hotel…

…so with my lunch money of €10 and my radio kit in tow, I ventured through the crowds of Swiss, Italian and French tourists to meet a colleague from Southwest German Radio.

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Underway, the Kölner Way

When many Americans talk about seeing Europe, the bulk of these people can be divided into two groups: the tour bus or backpacking crowds.  Some folks spend their hard-earned dough on a blitz-offensive of Europe like the kind seen in “National Lampoon’s European Vacation,” rushing city to city in an attempt to “experience” Europe in an insanely tight time frame.  Rome, Berlin, Paris, London, fly back home.  Others try to backpack through Europe, and spend a lot of time in hostels.  This is a fine option for younger folks, but not everyone.

But our troupe doesn’t fit into those categories.  We are European veterans, having taken our time to see the on- and off-the-beaten-trail sites.  And with a baby, and no car, the list of “Crazy things we have done in life” has just gotten longer.

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Bavaria, Baroque and Religion

Orff

Religion is one topic many journalists won’t touch with a ten-thousand foot pole.  Religion is complicated, people are passionate, and when one is working on deadline, a complicated and polarizing issue like religion doesn’t do good things for the blood pressure.

I’ve been cutting back on the coffee, though, so my blood pressure can take a subtle dose of religious analysis after a long few days in Munich.
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A Taste of German Law and Order

Museum

If you’d ask someone what Karlsruhe was known for, the person would probably think you were joking–Karlsruhe doesn’t have the kind of tourist-money-attracting sights as its neighbors.  The city is an hour or so from Stuttgart and decidedly separated from other major cities in Southern Germany.  And this fact was a perfect reason to place one gem in Karlsruhe, the constitutional court, or Verfassungsgericht.

There’s nothing in Karlsruhe…but good old fashioned law and order.

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A Day at the Wannsee

It’s not a short trip to Wannsee, especially with the city’s commuter rail system still lagging.  From Schmargendorf, one must head north to Theodor-Heuss-Platz to catch the 218 bus toward Pfaueninsel, Peacock Island.  It takes more or less an hour, along curved, wooded roads, before the lake comes into view.  It’s serene, and beautiful–two descriptors which make Wannsee’s historical identity all the more troubling.

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A Change in Perspective

Through buildings
There’s a certain comedy to attending language classes in a tourist zone.  First, there’re tourists everywhere.  And though I hate to generalize, tourists seem to all follow the same m.o.  They all seem to have expensive Canon Digital SLR or Nikon Coolpix cameras.  They all seem to push aggressively down the sidewalk heading somewhere…until they stop in the middle of the same sidewalk, and ask each other where they’re going.

Tourists also tend congregate in safe zones: monuments, cathedrals, shopping centers, etc.  But fortunately tourists tend not to ride the city bus to the end of the line, and that’s where our troupe found itself earlier this week.

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Zu Hause in Berlin

Sun at rest

It’s nice to begin to settle–settling is an often underappreciated activity.  It’s nice to settle into your favorite chair; it’s nice to settle in to a soft, warm bed before a well-deserved rest; and it’s certainly wonderful to settle into a new home, albeit thousands of miles from your last one.

So far, Schmargendorf has treated us fine with its captivating views and convenient shopping layout.  With our ever improving German, we’ve navigated the worlds of finance, electronics, retail, postal services and public transportation with little trouble and few casualties.  And today brought my first full day of life in German.

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