A round-the-world tour without leaving Wiesbaden
A round-the-world tour without leaving Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden, the tidy, elegant capital of the German state of Hesse, is oh-so cosmopolitan: at the end of 2019, some 62,958 of the city’s 291,109 inhabitants were citizens of countries other than Germany. Amongst those with migration backgrounds we find Kazakhs, Koreans and Kyrgyz, just a few of the many nationalities lending international flair to the city of spas, parks and casinos.
There’s no need to chafe at travel restrictions when you can travel the world without leaving Wiesbaden’s city limits. With the “RMV Gruppentageskarte” valid for travel for five persons, you can easily reach the city’s best bits by means of public transportation. A group ticket allowing the whole gang to ride the city’s public buses from morning until night goes for somewhere in the neighborhood of 10.80 euros.
Bonjour! Begin your day at Wiesbaden’s bustling market square, the Dern’sche Gelände. Make way to the ever-popular Les Deux Messieurs, a French café where you can start your day with a seat on the terrace, enjoying a café au lait and brioche, perhaps?
Wiesbaden’s adorable Nerobergbahn, a funicular railway kept moving thanks to a unique system of water propulsion, is closed at present due to Coronavirus concerns, but no worries: you can also reach the top of Wiesbaden’s “mountain,” the Neroberg, by foot and burn off those croissant calories as you go. Board bus number 1 or 8 from the Friedrichstraße bus stop on Wilhelmstraße and disembark at the Nerotal stop. From here you’re looking at a half hour climb, fairly steep in places, so keep your water bottle handy.
Your stand-in for a trip to Moscow is a visit to the magnificent Russian Orthodox Church of St. Elizabeth, a church built between 1849 and 1855 to the order of Duke Adolph von Nassau. The church honors the memory of the duke’s wife, the 19-year-old Russian Princess Elisabeth Michailowna, who died in childbirth. This soaring church with a poignant history is built on the model of the Church of the Redeemer in Russia’s capital city. With a bit of luck, perhaps you’ll see a beaming bride and handsome groom, along with their elaborately attired wedding party, celebrating their special day. Otherwise enter within and admire the marble walls in all their colorful glory or painted icons embellished with gold leaf. To feel as if you’re exploring some far-flung corner of Russia, wander the nearby Orthodox cemetery in respectful contemplation.
Somewhere along the Med
Make your way back down the Neroberg by way of the villa-lined Lanzstrasse, picking out your future post-lottery win residence as you descend. Amble back to the city center and board Bus E heading to the Schiersteiner Hafen. This beauty spot by the Rhine offers all the ambiance of a harbor you’d find in a much warmer climate, say the Mediterranean. Stroll past the gently bobbing yachts and sailboats, or choose to make that feeling of being somewhere further south complete with a heaping plate of antipasti from the RheinLounge, a restaurant located directly along the waterfront.
It’s now time to trade sunny shores for shady hills. Take any bus heading to the main train station and from there, board bus X72 for a quick trip to your destination of Platte, a hill in the north of town. Crisscrossed with trails, it’s a popular destination for cyclists and hikers, plenty of whom you’re sure to rub elbows with at the Gasthof Jagdschloss Platte. Either outside on the sunny terrace of the beer garden or inside cozy premises reminiscent of a hunting lodge, you’ll wonder what happy coincidence brought you to this little slice of Alpine paradise. Ordering a rustic dish such as the pike-perch or deer ragout is sure to add to the sensation of kicking back at a distant mountain hideout.
It’s time to come down back to earth. Your destination is the city’s West End, or more specifically, Wellritzstraße. Many of Wiesbaden’s foreign citizens hail from Turkey, and there’s a neighborhood where you just might feel you’ve wandered into a section of Istanbul. This lively street is lined with supermarkets, shops and restaurants offering Turkish cuisine and wares. Many other cultures are represented in this merry melting pot. For a tasty sweet treat, pop into the Harput Bäckerei, a Turkish bakery offering mouth-watering baklava and other delightful sorts of pastry.
To close your busy day on a sophisticated note, traverse the city center from west to east. Pass the fountains and immaculately tended lawns of the Bowling Green to enter the Kurhaus, a place where fortunes have been won and lost for over a century. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by the endlessly spinning motion of the roulette wheel. Play poker or have a go on the slot machines, if you’re feeling confident. Entry to the Spielbank, at 2.50 euros, is an affordable splurge. You’ll need spiffy clothing and ID proving you’re at least 18 years of age. Other rules apply.
Still feeling energetic with coin in pocket? Always mindful of whatever restrictions currently apply, you could head out for a meal at an Indian, Thai or Persian restaurant, watch a foreign film in its original language at the Caligari FilmBühne movie theater, or just relax with a Guinness at an Irish pub. Yes, travel, you’re sorely missed, but with so many cultures right at your fingertips, you’ll find staying home isn’t really so hard after all.
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