Rastatt's Christmas market takes place in Marktplatz (market square) in the heart of the town. It is not big but the atmosphere in the baroque square is cosy.
The Glühwein is good, and we got excellent grilled sausages, thin, crispy and 1/2 m long. If you like hot and spicy food, try the Feuerwurst, if not, stick to Rostbratwurst. Glühwein is cheaper than in Karlsruhe!
The Christmas market opens before the first Advent weekend and closes on the fourth Advent Sunday (2008: Dec 21).
Favorite Palace, the Work of a Weird Princess
Favorite palace was the summer countryside resort of the Margraves of Baden-Baden, and like any proper summer house it is located in the countryside far away from any city or town. For visitors who own neither a horse-drawn carriage nor a car, reaching the palace requires some preparations. There is an S-Bahn line from Karlsruhe to the nearby village of Kuppenheim. Since walking to the palace is doable but takes a while, we decided to take the bike.
Luckily taking bikes on S-Bahns is free here. All you have to do is find a safe spot for it on the tram. We used an elastic thingy to tie it to the tram so that it cannot topple over. I am checking again: will it hold? Only then we went to find seats.
We took this bike trail that leads from the village straight to the park of Favorite. Far in the background you see Kuppenheim, and behind the village the hills of the northern Black Forest. Favorite is still part of the flat Rhine plain, which is great for cyclists like us.
Favorite was the favourite place of its builder and first owner, thus the name. It was created for Margravine Sibylla Augusta, who ruled the country after the early death of her husband, officially as proxy of her son the heir who was still a child. She was good at politics and organization and her country prospered under her reign. Her husband had already started the big project of a new residential palace in Rastatt. When that was finished she added the rest: summer palace, park, churches... She came from an extremely rich ducal family in Bohemia and together with her sister she was heiress to enormous amounts of money, so she could afford it.
"The Margravine's Hermitage"
However, I am sorry to say that the good lady was a bit balla-balla, if you understand what I mean. She was a very pious catholic - nothing wrong with that - and now and then she decided she had lived in enough luxury and it was time to retreat for some time of repentance and prayer - nothing wrong with that either. But...
For these purposes she had herself built this little hermitage at the end of the park. She would stay in there for a while, do exercises, flagellate herself etc. She would take her plain meals seated at the table with Joseph, Mary and young Jesus as life-size wax figures. Imagine...
The figures, the plain wooden furniture, the uncomfortable bed and all those things she used to punish herself for the sins she might have committed or imagined in the meantime are still there. You can only go in with special tours, Mommy once had the chance to see it. All this is really really weird.
I tried to peep in through the windows but could not see anything.
Even the trees in the alley have died...
I was glad to leave this strange place again and return to the world of baroque pleasure.