Baden-Baden & German Unity Day – Germany 2009

Our next stop was the famous spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany’s equivalent of Bath, in the UK.

Famed for its spa baths, architecture, cultured air and famous casino, it’s popular with visitors and was one of the more noticeably expensive places we visited on the trip. That said, there is a Stellplatz on the edge of town that is free, albeit with minimal facilities.

Motorhomes were double-parked in some places at the Baden-Baden stellplatz we used - it was very well located for the town and free
Motorhomes were double-parked in some places at the Baden-Baden stellplatz we used - it was very well located for the town and free

(The only facilities were a Portaloo-type toilet and another, larger, one into which toilet cassettes could be emptied. No waste water or fresh water. In true German fashion, however, both where clean and functioning and neither was abused or vandalised.)

The town is within walking distance of the Stellplatz, which was very popular when we were there – it was jam-packed on both of the two nights we stayed (maximum permitted stay is 48 hours). The couple next to us had come from Aachen to see a concert on Friday night, first thing on Saturday morning they were off home again.

Part of casino building in Baden-Baden, these people were waiting to enter an art exhibition
Part of the casino building in Baden-Baden, these people were waiting to enter an art exhibition

What we didn’t realise on the afternoon we arrived in Baden-Baden was that it was German Unity Day the following day (3rd October). Unlike many public holidays in the UK, almost everything was shut, including supermarkets and most shops. The only places open were restaurants, bars, cake shops and various other leisure/entertainment facilities. The result was that the town had a real holiday atmosphere. Family groups were everywhere and the late summer weather meant that it was pleasant just to wonder around.

Baden-Baden has lots of fine architecture...
Baden-Baden has lots of fine architecture...
...some very fine cake shops...
...some very fine cake shops...
...and a very pleasant town centre
...and a very pleasant town centre

Finally, one thing we saw remains a mystery. In the UK, I would have said that it was a hunt gathering, but in Germany, I have no idea. A group of men and women on horses road into the town centre and stopped outside a hotel, where drinks were provided for them. The leader of the group gave a short speech, following which they all rode off again. Does anyone know what this might have been about? They had gone to the trouble of arranging horn music and drinks and a number of people had gathered to wait for them.

Here’s a photo of the speech and toast taking place, with the musicians in the background:

Any ideas who the red-coated riders might have been?
Any ideas who the red-coated riders might have been?

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