We’re liking Wiesbaden!

30 Apr

Hello again! Two days in a row- I’m on a roll! Actually, we finally managed to get our internet situation worked out a bit, so that definitely helps things! Something I’m going to start today: starting each post with a ‘Keeping It Real’ blurb. Just in our almost-week here, I’ve had so many moments and tidbits- good, funny, bad, annoying…- that are worth sharing, so I figure the best way to do this is to include one every post!

Keeping It Real, 4/30: I guess this is technically two tidbits, but I’m just going to put them both under ‘Food.’ We are LOVING the fact that Germany tends to have much higher standards when it comes to the food it sells and serves! For example, their sausages (and yes, there are ALOT of them!) can not have fillers, artificial preservatives or chemicals. I’m not an everyday sausage kind of girl (my husband is, btw), but this makes me feel better for when I do choose them! Just about every supermarket- even the ratty ones- have some, if not alot, of organic/natural/no GMO options. The second tidbit- the squash situation here. Stinks. While we’ve spotted a few pumpkin-esque kurbis (the German word for squash), there are virtually none to be found. No summer kurbis, no acorn kurbis, no spaghetti kurbis…After checking three grocery stores, the commissary on base and a huge farmers market, I finally asked one of my German friends who confirmed the worst 😦 Considering we usually eat these 3+ times a week, this is a problem.

OK, onto our little city! So, Wiesbaden is a suburb of Frankfurt, about 20 minutes to the southwest, on the north bank of the Rhine River. Check out the maps tab if you’re curious. It’s the capital of the state of Hessen and has about 300,000 residents- OK, so it’s not so little. To give some perspective, the population is about the same as Pittsburgh, PA, and Lexington, KY. The name translates to ‘meadow baths,’ which refers to its history as one of the oldest spa towns in all of Europe. At one point, it boasted 26 hot springs- today is has 14 still flowing.

We stumbled across this hot spring downtown.  It stays at a constant 150F. Many of the springs are actually still used for baths...

We stumbled across this hot spring downtown. It stays at a constant 150F. Many of the springs are actually still used for baths…

So, Wiesbaden is really old. It’s been constantly inhabited since around 6 AD when the Romans discovered it for its springs and they’re healing properties for both their soldiers and their horses, as well as red hair dye from its unique minerals. There’s still evidence of the Roman occupation ca. 376 AD in the form of ruins from their wall that went around the city and one of it’s watch towers.

By the 8th century, the Franks had taken over and established their royal palace. The city became Protestant in the mid 1500s. Wiesbaden is one of the only cities in the country not severely affected by WWII (only one allied bombing on a residential district), so much of their historical buildings and roads still remain in tact without complete restoration- that part is really cool. The oldest ‘modern’ building still remaining- and being used!- is the Old Town Hall. In addition to the baths, Wiesbaden became known for its gambling in the 1800s until it was outlawed. But since it was reinstated in 1949, it’s back to being widely known as a good gambling destination. (And I’m not talking flashy lights and slicked back hair gambling- this stuff is fancy! Tuxedos and gowns required in the main casino!) Here are two views of the Kurhaus, where the casino is housed.

That's the Kurhaus in the back with the columns and domed roof.

That’s the Kurhaus in the back with the columns and domed roof.

The Kurhous is lit in the background.

The Kurhous is lit in the background.

So we have had a grand time exploring our city a bit this week. Luckily, it’s quite compact, so getting around is fairly easy. We bought a bike and carrier the second day because Neve and I wanted to experience the ‘real deal’ that comes so often with European living- using bikes and public transportation instead of a car. It feels strange not having a car (John takes it to work on one of the five bases, about 10 minutes away), but it’s important to me for us to have that experience, if that makes sense? Simply put, picture the city shaped like a half bowl (the other side of the bowl is the river). Houses and apartments tend to be all along the sides of the bowl (on the big hills) and the city itself is at the base. As you might imagine, this makes for great trips IN to the city- not so much getting back to the apartment! *huff and puff* For those of you living in- or if you’ve visited- Charleston, the layout of the streets is very similar. Some are nice square, right angles. More veer offs or tiny points or useless curves. And lots of one ways. Oh, and LOTS of ‘pedestrian only’ streets. So far, those two things have been our biggest challenges with the bike- we’re allowed on those streets, but have you ever tried riding through a sea of people? And what happens when cars are coming your way and you have nowhere to go? Um, no.

IMG_3131IMG_3132So what have we been up to so far? Well, we’ve walked a good bit in Altstadt, the Old Town, of the city. There are so many shops, cafes, restaurants…And SO many people. It’s like King Street in Charleston on a Saturday during the peak of tourist season…Every Day! Not sure where all these people come from. We’ve been to an awesome farmers market (it takes over the main plaza every Wednesday and Saturday, so that’s terrific news!) that made for a most excellent dinner last night. We’ve spent time at the huge park near our apartment feeding the ducks and playing on the playground. And we’ve been venturing further on our bike a little each day in search of new sights and new playgrounds. I think these last two are Neve’s favorite parts 🙂 The bike thing will take some time and practice, at least to feel comfortable- and safe- using it as our transportation on main thoroughfares. I’ll be honest, I’m not a whiz on a beach cruiser at home on a wide open cul-de-sac (I was never the kid who could ride with no hands, my turning radius was as wide as a minivan, I couldn’t ride anybody on my handlebars…) and some things never change, folks. I’ve spent alot of time brushing up on their bike laws (there are tons), but there seem to be still so many uncertainties that present themselves as we go along. I suppose that’s the thing about becoming a mom- you’re way more aware of this kind of stuff, way less likely to wing it (at least when it comes to safety)…And way more interested in getting it right the first time rather than trial and error!

OK, less talk, more pictures…

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As soon as you leave city limits, the countrysides are filled with these gorgeous yellow flowers. I’m sure it’s just the time of year and I’m sure they’re wild- probably weeds- but they’re just lovely. This was taken just outside of the gate on the base where John is working.

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The landmark church that anchors the city. Built in the late 1800s, its spire is the highest point in the city. You’ll see it in the background of many of our pictures, I’m sure, as it’s pretty central.

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Our favorite 'homecooked' meal so far! Everything you see is from the Farmers Market and cost 9 euro 60 cents. Go ahead and say it. Hell yeah.

This was one of our best ‘homecooked’ meals so far! Neve and I got everything that morning at the Farmers Market- four kinds of meat (can’t be sure what kinds other than that they were cured pork), two kinds of cheeses (can’t be sure- something Swiss-y and something Manchego-y) and 7 kinds of olives. Every single thing was a hit! And guess how much it all cost? 9 euro 60 cents. Go ahead and say it. Hell. Yes. And the biggest news of the night is that our pretty-much-vegetarian-not-by-our-choice-Neve discovered that she LOVES (translate: inhales) Fleischwurst. Lawd. That puts us to fish sticks, McD’s nuggets and now fancy bologna. We’ll take it! 😉
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So far, we’ve found three playgrounds. That’s one thing I remember from the last time we lived here- how much money and effort apparently goes into German parks and playgrounds. They are everywhere and are generally very well kept. That being said, you’ll only see pictures from two as the third one ended up being in the ghetto, not in fact well kept and we only did a drive by. The first is the one we have been to daily just a few blocks from the house. It’s part of a beautiful larger park that has a pond and fountain, ducks (pictured above), jogging paths and lots of green space.IMG_3134IMG_3158IMG_3161IMG_3166IMG_3163

2 Responses to “We’re liking Wiesbaden!”

  1. Robin May 1, 2015 at 6:50 PM #

    Love the picture of Neve under the flowering tree with all the blossoms on the ground!!

    • Erin T. May 2, 2015 at 8:58 AM #

      We liked that one, too. That’s my favorite tree in this whole city. It’s so pretty. And I wish this picture had captured all the blossoms falling and blowing like snow as we were standing there! And just in case you didn’t realize, you can click on any picture to make it big and you can right click to save it 🙂

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