Fortunately for us, our day to explore Baden-Baden was the most beautiful day we'd experienced in Germany so far. This town is devoted entirely to leisure and it is absolutely, positively utopia. There's beauty everywhere you look, and it's so perfect with the bright green grass, sparkling stream, and colorful flowers everywhere, it barely feels real. We took a leisurely walk along the Oos River in the Lichtentaler Allee, the town's famed central park and promenade.
We especially loved the rose garden.
We spent some time walking the loop through the small downtown and doing plenty of window shopping. This is the kind of town with an excessive number of gourmet food and housewares stores, fine jewelry stores, Furla and La Perla. That's why our shopping was limited to the window variety. 😄
We then had "lunch" at Café König, a local institution that has been in business for 250 years serving all varieties of gourmet cakes, torts, and truffles. We enjoyed fancy coffee and Black Forest cake.
Fighting aggressive food comas, we sadly said goodbye to Baden-Baden and drove into the heart of the Black Forest. Rick Steves said that anyone who has ever seen more than a few trees in one place (read: Americans) would not be impressed by the Black Forest, but we decided to forge ahead anyway because it's been on the proverbial bucket list for awhile. Ultimately, we disagreed with Rick. It's true that the initial drive through the "scenic" route is not much to behold. Our very own Blue Ridge Mountains win this beauty pageant by a long shot. We did happen upon this fun surprise...
Yep, a Tesla show at a popular tourist stop right at the top of the mountain. Of course, we had to try the cars out to make sure they fit. Good news!
And just like that, Hirsh found a new object of his dream car desire.
Hirsh also had a déjà vu moment because this appears to be the location where he went paddle boating with his family about 18 years ago.
The real magic of the Black Forest can be found - as is true with most things - off the beaten path. We drove through any number of adorable towns and got slightly lost once, only to be rewarded with majestic views of small mountain villages tucked away from the rest of the world. The way the sunlight filtered through the trees and hillside and bathed the homes in golden light looked like something straight out of a story book.
Our B&B for the night was located in a tiny town called Oberprechtal. Run by a very funny and accomplished pastry chef and his lovely wife, Café-Pension Endehof was an unexpected treat. They serve dinner if you arrive in time and you're interested, and the menu consists of whatever they're serving their family that night. We were interested! We had outstanding homemade beef, spinach, and ravioli soup to start. The main dish was pork shoulder, copious amounts of mashed potatoes, and sauerkraut. Dessert was homemade strawberry and vanilla ice cream with a handcrafted artisanal chocolate thingy on top. When we told the chef/owner/husband how good it was, he said "I know" with an adorable smirk. It was German food at its best!