Not Relaxing in Baden-Baden

“You can’t work,” pronounced The One as he leaned on his suitcase to close it. “Plain and simple.”

That was the directive delivered to me from on high a couple weeks ago on the very eve of our trip to the legendary spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany—and it wasn’t an unreasonable one. The last time The One and I were scheduled to vacation there with our friends Matty and Janet, I had to cancel the night before. While they winged it to Germany in business class, I was mired in work at home. Besides, how many times have I left the poor guy sitting at the table, alone with his dinner, while I hunched over my computer, every once in a while shouting, “Just a few more seconds, Mon Cher! Promise…”

While I couldn’t give up work entirely cold turkey—I had to do something—I did push away from the computer far more that week than I have in years. Lest you think it was for the baths–those ancient springs that purportedly have healing and life-giving properties–think again. How could I–someone as overcranked and ADD as I–sit in those pools for hours on end, like Matty, and not go stir-crazy? (He clocked an average of six hours a day in the baths. His overly tanned, 71-year-old skin looks like Gucci crocodile loafers when he finally deigns to exit the waters.) During my first dunk, I was so fidgety, so preoccupied with mentally playing out how I could bitch slap Mark Zuckerberg right out of Facebook and make it my own, that I could have created a tsunami.

It took only one more aqua descent before I realized that the water cure just isn’t for me. What calms me is work. What clears my mind is work. What causes huge fights at home is work. What compels me to go on vacation where all I do is work is work. (Jesus. I guess it’s time to go back to therapy.)

But for the sake of interpersonal vacation détente—translation: I was too scared to risk provoking the ire of The One—I left camera, tape recorder, reporter pad, pens, and business cards at the hotel. Instead I resorted to guerrilla reporting tactics, relying on my iPhone’s camera and GPS to chronicle our stay. So here it is: a just-for-the-hell-of-it slideshow devoted to Baden-Baden and the foods of the Black Forest and German state of Baden-Württemberg. Well, as much as I could manage to cram into my overaddled, waterlogged brain before The One suspected me of working.

Since my video camera was in lockdown, I included this movie to give you a sense of the place.

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  1. Wow really David? no Sole water and thermal water for you? I feel the Badehaus causes a whole in my stomach and I like to munch on some goodies afterwards.Luckily the food is l ooking good there otherwise you would have had to go to Straßburg. ^.^

    1. Helene, I “liked” the waters but didn’t “love” them. I could see going back and spending an hour or so each day in the baths. Not these marathon session Matty loves. And we did go to Strasbourg. We adored it and are going back soon.

  2. Your trip looks heavenly and delicious! We once spent 5 days in Budapest right down the street from the famous baths and spent almost all of our time in the market – with side trips to museums and tea salons. Wonderful! The images of your trip remind me of that. I must get to Germany, the food looks fabulous! And you know what I think? About vacations? Whatever makes us happy! We each have our own way to relax and destress. And if the baths don’t do it for us and food and recording our voyage do, then that’s what we should do. It looks like you had a great time despite not being able to work.

    1. Jamie, hear, hear. I did have a lovely time, but The One isn’t convinced. But I’m not a relaxer, what can I say?! My way of de-stressing is to sleep. Sometimes in the middle of a horrid day, I flip the computer the bird, go upstairs, put on my pjs, and take a long nap. Life always seem better when I awake.

  3. A simple observation…you are a chef. A person who spends time in a kitchen, but your description of ‘work’ is time spent in front of a computer.

    While I am aware of the story of the carpenter who loves to work with wood…becomes a general contractor…who spends more time studying to pass..who has to now hire people, do payroll, schedule jobs, figure out health benefits, learn promotion and advertising…but no longer works with wood. He makes more money, he has more stress, but he is successful. Seen this a hundred times. Happened to me…sorta.

    Food for thought.

    1. dontcallmeachef, thanks for this. But I’m not a chef. Never was, never will be. To me, chefs are specially trained people with a distinct skill set. I’m but a food writer, so my rightful place is in front of the computer. But…your carpenter story hits home. THAT is indeed happening to me. So much so that I can’t write nearly as much as I’d like.

  4. I keep reaffirming the rule that we unplug at 9pm to have Couple Time, but I am pretty terrible about it. Makes me feel terrible. It’s one reason that I have an Idiot Phone. If my phone was smart, that would be Very Bad.

    I have, however, perfected the Sitting-on-the-divan-watching-Netflix-on-autoplay-and-eating-bon-bons style of relaxing. I can totally teach you how to do that!

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