I’m sure I’ve said it before, but holidays can be the hardest times to be an expat. Beyond missing family and friends, sometimes the celebrations just don’t exist in another country. American Independence Day is one such holiday.
While we have been to a Fourth of July party in Germany before, it’s still not quite the same. So, this year, a friend and I decided we would have our own little picnic and try to keep the tradition alive for our kiddos. She suggested we let the little ones explore the German spa town of Badenweiler before gorging ourselves on an as-American-as-you-can-get buffet. Badenweiler is a poser-free spa and resort town and an easy jaunt from the A5 in the southwest corner of Germany. While most people come for the Cassiopeia thermal baths, I’d recommend staying for the scenery. The area is simply charming.
Parking is a cinch at any of the designated lots. We chose the parking garage in between the Schlosspark and Kurpark on Friedrichstr. However, if you’re looking to save some cash, drive up the hill behind the Schlosspark and leave the car at the (free) south lot.
After loading up our backpacks, we wandered around in the Schlosspark, an area chock full of dozens of different tree species (all labeled). The boys discovered a small playground completely with funky baby swings. Should you find yourself in need of some coffee and cake, visit the Kunst Palais Cafe ARTig on the grounds. Prices seemed reasonable here as opposed to the posh and expensive restaurants on the main drag.
The boys splashed a bit in the fountain on the Schlossplatz before heading up the hill to the ruins in the Kurpark. You can push a pram up the hill here (and we did), but as always, a backpack carrier is best. If this kind of crazy workout is your thing, stick to the paved path. We climbed up in turrets and scrambled around inside the nearly intact walls. We feasted our eyes on the fantastic view, and soaked in the sunshine warming the entire valley. When the tummies started to rumble, we headed back down the hill and found a shady picnic spot close to the concert house. We smoothed out blankets and spread a feast of hot dogs, baked beans, potato chips, chicken tenders, pasta salad, and apple pie. At least if we couldn’t have fireworks, we were going to have us some darn good American food!The kids frolicked around the meadow and painted themselves silly with red and blue watercolors while the parents sipped sweet tea.
After lunch, we meandered on down to the Roman bath ruins. While contemplating whether or not to fork over the five euro family admission fee, the curator offered to let us in for free. Score! The small exhibit is well done, though signs are only in German. I really appreciated how the raised walkway allowed us a unique view of the ancient baths. Doc Sci tried to explain to the boys what they were looking at, but all they really understood was that these old pools look quite similar to our pools today.
Since we needed to let Big Foot take a nap, we skipped the Cassiopeia thermal baths this time. Unlike the facilities Baden-Baden, this spa is family-friendly, and there is a discount for two adults visiting with up to three children.
On our next trip to Badenweiler (and we hope to return soon!), we’ll make sure to visit the Park der Sinne, a park of the senses. This free outdoor experience seems like a great place for families to explore.
While I can’t say our kids really learned much about American Independence or why the Fourth of July is a holiday, we did teach them about the importance of embracing and celebrating our American heritage while we live in this beautiful foreign land.