As soon as you arrive in Rota, you start hearing about amazing 19 Euro tickets to some other European destination. You run into these people who travel seemingly every weekend to a different country. How they do it, I’m still not sure. But, we did finally score reasonable tickets to Baden-Baden, Germany, for a Thanksgiving Day Weekend adventure.
To search for inexpensive flights, I use the Skyscanner App and Kiwi.com. Kiwi is usually my first stop, as I can search multiple departure points, with literally Everywhere as the destination. This returns the cheapest options for any given calendar window, and we can then narrow the choices based on interest and other planning considerations. For example, for a November trip, we narrowed the list down to Baden-Baden and Glasgow. After some initial research, we discovered we couldn’t return car a rental in Glasgow on a Sunday, so we decided to wait on that trip.
So, Baden-Baden it was. We took a 7:00 a.m. flight out of Sevilla on Thanksgiving Day, and arrived in Baden-Baden at 9:35 a.m. Last minute we had decided to rent a car, so before long we had car seats and tired children strapped in and headed down the road. Baden-Baden is a resort town in the Black Forest, just a hop, skip, and bridge crossing across the Rhine from the Alsace region of France. The French Christmas Markets in Strasbourg and surrounding towns kicked off that Friday, whereas the markets on the German side of the border didn’t open until after we returned to Spain. This led us to kick-off our weekend in France, planning to wrap-up our stay in Germany.
Strasbourg is only a 35-minute drive from the airport, and so we headed to the town of Riquewihr to allow the children an additional 30 minutes or so to sleep. Along the drive, Dennis and I enjoyed the dreary winter skies, castle upon castle that dotted the landscape, and hills and trees and vineyards. By 10:30 a.m., we were in our third country of the day, which was a fun reminder of what an awesome experience we have been given to live in Europe for these years with our young family.
Riquewihr is a small village, and part of the design inspiration for Belle’s home town in Beauty and the Beast, and we knew it would also inspire our fairy tale loving crowd. It did not disappoint. While the market stalls were still being set-up, the timber framed homes were all decked out as gingerbread houses, each one completely picture-worthy.
We quickly ducked into the first restaurant we found open. The menus were in both French and German, the norm in this region which has switched sides many times in more recent history. Neither language helped us much, and Dennis and I ordered the waitress’s recommended pick – which turned out to be a large platter of different meat with sauerkraut and potatoes. While good, I don’t think I've been able to eat meat since. On the other hand, our small carafe of the area’s famous Riesling wine was delicious, and only peaked our interest. The kids, despite an early wake-up call, all stayed at the table for the full meal. And I didn’t feel as if we needed ask for our check before our food arrived, so it was a win, and a harbinger of the great trip to come.
With full stomachs, we wandered through the streets of Riquewihr, window shopping for pretties and sweets. Henry “purchased” many of beautiful glasses and cooking items for his grandma. And we all enjoyed a giant gingerbread man and colorful macaroons before returning to our car, which was parked beneath hills of sleepy grapevines. Riquewihr took less than three hours to wander, meal included. Just enough of the town was open to fill our stomachs and imaginations, so we left satisfied. It was a beautiful, relaxed start to a long weekend in the Alsace region.