For my 60th birthday I took my closest family — those who were able to travel abroad— away for the weekend. I wanted to visit the Alternative Wolf and Bear Park in The Black Forest, Germany, and as we were a group of six, I pre-planned an adventure packed weekend.
For the first couple of nights, we stayed in a very unusual town that I found incredibly inspiring. Bad Wildbad is very pretty, very small, and nestles in the valley of the steep pine-hills that surround it. Dotted around are chalet style buildings. The main town is two streets.
Bad Wildbad is very quiet and has the air of a ghost town. By 8pm, most restaurants are shut; only two remain open. It is a spa town, and there is a hospital, so perhaps that’s why there are quite a few people in wheelchairs. At night, there is a sandwich board outside the hospital advertising a bar with a DJ. We, of course, felt compelled to explore. There was indeed a bar, with two young women serving, and at the other end of the room, a DJ. Lighting in the room had been dimmed, ready for customers, but no one else was in there.
That afternoon, in the bank, when I asked the cashier if I could take out more than my daily allowance over the counter from my cash card, he replied that I don’t have a bank account in their bank, and I don’t live locally, so they are unable to serve me.
The hotel we were staying in had its own spa in the old, and very well kept, part of the building. Marble columns, tiled walls, stone floors, and huge and very beautiful stained glass windows. There are numerous rooms and numerous thermal pools of all different sizes and temperatures. The biggest one is round with a huge very tall statue, in the middle, under a domed ceiling.
The hotel requested that to use the pools guests should be naked and to be honest, I wouldn’t have cared … naked is natural, after all … but the rest of my family were quite put off by that kind of intimacy between us, and to be honest, I fully respect that. However, we did still use the pools, which were heavenly and very relaxing.
The Wolf and Bear Park is home to 3 rescued wolves and 6 rescued bears. They roam freely in nearly 10 hectares of natural habitat. Visitors are only allowed to walk around the periphery. The two short videos posted above say much more than explanatory words.
We spent our last night in Stuttgart. I had planned for us to visit Hohenzollern castle in the afternoon, but in order not to miss the only train for quite a few hours, we embarked without tickets, hoping to pay either during the journey or at the other end. Instead, we got fined EUR 60 each for not already being in possession of tickets, that or the three threatening inspectors were going to call the police. We decided against spending the afternoon behind bars, paid and disembarked; further travel was not included in our fine. We commiserated each other over lunch in Stuttgart, a city I do not hold in fond memory, as I’m sure you'll understand.
On the day we returned home we visited Tubingen, a very pretty olde worlde university town with a friendly aura. On reflection, I would have booked to stay in Tubingen overnight and not in Stuttgart and I would have taken a taxi up to the castle and back. So easy to be wise in hindsight.