Swapping Homes Anybody?


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Our 2nd home swap near Baden-Baden

Yes, traveling is exhausting. Driving from one place to the next on German motorways is the easy part. Dropping off the rental car the day after your arrival when you still have to unpack is part of the joy. If you don't drop off at the same location, it becomes much more expensive. Especially if you take the car to a different country, like when we move from Germany to a houses in France. A lot of these places -if not at an airport or train station in a city center- are car dealers, like our Hertz dealer near Baden-Baden, in the middle of nowhere or some convoluted industrial center. God forbid, you return the car without gas...then you have to do the search for a gas station which is never close by - or bite the bullet and pay their inflated price. How did we ever manage all that without a navi-system? How did I ever find my way from Ireland on my own to the little Nierstein/Rhine from where I collected my wines for my wine import in Dublin amost 2,000 km each way: with the help of maps and then later, with print-outs of what Mappi or Google maps suggested.

Now that we had unloaded and unpacked our four heavy suitcases (over 50 pounds a piece) plus hubby's computer bag and several hand luggage items, we were ready to explore our new abode, a 5 bedroom family home with a wonderful garden in a little town of 6,000 people, Ottersweier.

A town where everybody knows each other and seems to recognize that we are in so-and-so's house, greeting or waving at us. Our exchange partners have done many swaps before, so people are used to seeing strangers around. (They also had ca. 120 refugees put up here, strangely enough I only saw five of them during our stay.)
The town is based a mere 15 km from the world famous spa of Baden-Baden. I used to laugh at older folks who liked to vacation there and take the waters or visit thermal baths. Now we are enjoying the beautiful countryside, the peace and quiet and proximity of many interesting archaeological sites, Roman ruins and castles, ruined or of stately splendor.In fact, within a radius of less than an hour's drive along scenic, windy country roads - not motorways- we discovered several true gems which I'm going to report about later. 
In German we differentiate between castle ruins or fortifications still intact which are called "Burg" and resplendent castles of kings often appointed with so much glamour that leaves you in awe about how the selected few lived in those days. Jut think of Sanssoucis in Potsdam, an example of a little Schloss, I introduced here before. Here is one of our latest finds, Burg Windeck.

Many of these added restaurants and hotels to cater to all the visitors. Burg Windeck has been mentioned in the Guide Michelin and is fighting for its first * (star) in this prestigious French restaurant and hotel guide.

You can drive up to most of theseenchanting places, definitely when they have a restaurant.

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