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. Attempting to relax can be superfluous when work beckons. In your case, work is your spa. I found relaxation gawking at the carousel of revolving photos at the top of the post. Please tell me you sampled those glorious pastries, chocolates and confections.

    1. Brooks, I thought of you while I was in Baden-Baden. Yes, my face was cream- and chocolate-smudged for most of the trip. I ate just about anything that wasn’t nailed down. Most of it was quite, quite good.

  2. LOL Just like my father, you are a workaholic! You were in a place like that, and you couldn’t relax?! Wow! Well, I am drooling to see all the wonderful food showed in the video, and I am getting jealous. I think I’ll have to spend a vacation in Baden-Baden pretty soon…

    1. But, Denise, is that a bad thing?! I’m not sure because I get so much pleasure out of being busy. I would suggest Baden-Baden, but in the warmer weather. #freezing

  3. Oh my gawd. A dessert vacation!!!! I know where I am going next year–who cares about the waters–just leave me at the pastry.

  4. Oh, how charming! I’ve never had much interest in going to Germany. Until now. You can get a(nother) job as Baden-Baden’s director of tourism.

    1. Beth, to be honest, I didn’t either. But I found the people to be very friendly and that they love feeding you. Also the area is beautiful, even though it was like Siberia.

  5. Well, I’m glad you defied orders and snuck a photo-journal of your trip. (Damn good for being done on a phone cam!) How could you not? It was a first time in that particular candy store…and you, a writer! What a lovely place Baden-Baden appears to be. What food! I get your annoyance about lollygagging around a pool while on vacation. Snore! Plus, pools, like beer, are for cooling off on a hot day; a quick dip or a quick sip, are all that are needed to revive. (I don’t like beer either, but an icy cold sip on a hot day does taste good for that second it hits the lips! Then, I’m done.)

    1. Susan, you make me laugh. I was, indeed, a kid in a new candy store–figuratively and literally. And, I’m with you 100% when it comes to pools. These are heated mineral pools, to augment the therapeutic benefits, but I never felt anything. (Well, that’s not true. I did enjoy what Matty calls the “head bangers”: water that cascades down with tremendous force. It’s like an intense shoulder and neck massage.) He says I didn’t feel anything because I wasn’t in the water for very long. I say I wasn’t in the water for very long because I didn’t feel anything. Tomato, tomahto, I guess.

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