Ryanair Roulette #1: Baden-Baden

Fun fact: I have never gone to Germany on purpose. I’ve often ended up there because it’s in between other places, or because flying into Frankfurt was cheaper than flying into anywhere else, or for a work thing or a conference. But I’ve never really headed there just because I wanted to go there, and, if I’m being perfectly frank(-furter), I’ve never really been interested in exploring it much.

But Baden-Baden was the first spin of my whimsy-wheel, so to Germany I went! It feels somehow appropriate given that a) I’ve never even heard of it, b) it’s somewhere I’d never wind up otherwise, and c) it’s famed for its ridiculous casino.

Yes, I played actual roulette on my first Ryanair Roulette trip. I’m pretty pleased with how that worked out.

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Let’s see how everything else played out!

Deliciousness of wine: ⭐️⭐️

Well, I did fly home with a hangover, but I’m not sure that’s a good indicator of anything, since I can’t even count the number of flights I’ve taken with a hangover. (I can probably count the number I’ve taken drunk, but it’s a smidge higher than I’d like to admit, so I shan’t.)

Baden-Baden is actually near some pretty good wine-producing parts of Germany, so the wine was pretty available and pretty decent. That said, best of luck finding anything open even remotely close to late-night. Myself and my partner-in-crime got to town around midnight, utterly starving, and there was a single bar open, who were kind enough to serve us a bowl of chips and some mayonnaise. Turned out to be a pretty great little pub with good flammkuchen and the most fantastic cherry sorbet I’ve ever tasted, but the rest of the town was a total ghost town past ten.

The casino, which we went to because it seemed the thing to do, had a €26 minimum to use a card at the bar, so we bought overpriced beers instead. Apparently I loathe gambling and don’t understand the point, but the people-watching was pretty worthwhile, particularly if you stand around like a creep and make up elaborate back-stories for the most interesting characters wandering about.

Run-friendliness: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

My default behaviour when looking for a good running path is to seek out a river, because the paths are almost always pretty and they’re generally at least flat-ish. I live in Edinburgh, so this is basically the only sensible approach that won’t lead to my running up a bloody cliff.

Baden-Baden is like 90% hills too, so I was a little concerned I’d be running some really lovely but paths while my legs slowly fell off. As it turned out, I found a tiny little man-made stream that wound through town and gave it a go. As it turned out, it was perfect: flat and pretty, and I could stretch it into a good 5k run if I ran across a bridge or two and looped around, or ran through an Alice-in-Wonderland style hedge maze that sat to one side of the river.

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Lichtentaler Allee. Mountains to the left, river to the right.

It was well-lit (for the most part) at night, but people were absolutely terrible at moving to make way, which gave me murdery feelings. I didn’t see many other people out actually running; seems Baden-Baden is more of a slow power-walking town, which makes sense given that it’s a getaway town for the rich and idle and the vast majority of its inhabitants eclipsed me a few times over in both age and income.

I dug this run so much I did it twice: once at night and once during the day, in addition to spending a day hiking through the paths winding through the forests at the edge of town. Full points for scenicness, but a minus point for why on earth don’t people move out of the way when there’s a panting sweating woman barrelling toward them at full speed?

Pain-to-travel ratio: ⭐️⭐️

The airport in Baden-Baden is extraordinarily tiny. Most tourists drive in from neighbouring parts of Switzerland or France, or from other parts of Germany, and there didn’t seem to be many English-speaking tourists at all. I’ve no idea why Ryanair runs a flight from Edinburgh here, but our flights both ways seemed to mostly be full of Germans (including a few bekilted ones on the way home).

When I got off the plane and on the bus that takes you to the terminal, I realised I didn’t have my passport on me and started to quickly panic. After checking every pocket six times and getting increasingly more frantic, I rushed back out and back on the airplane, where I finally found it had slipped out of my coat pocket and down the side of my seat. Really, really pleased I didn’t have to spent the night stuck in a limbo between immigration and whenever the next flight out is, which I’m guessing would have been a lot longer than I’d have liked.

The airport isn’t super well-connected—there’s one bus that services it, but it only runs once an hour and doesn’t go all the way into town. You need to catch a connecting bus at the train station, which also happens to be way outside of town, because apparently the urban planners really wanted to discourage excessive walking, I guess. Luckily, we managed to catch the last one that night (they stop around 11pm). Otherwise, a taxi looked like it would have run around €40 or €50, which basically nulls the advantage of that cheap flight.

Workability: ⭐️

There were lots of cafes but they were all a bit small and lacked good space to work from. I don’t think I saw anyone anywhere with a laptop, which isn’t surprising given that it’s a spa town.

It didn’t help that my charger decided to give up the ghost on me, making working a bit of a challenge. There were apparently a few shops that sold Apple stuff around, but the first one was definitely someone’s private home, and the second one looked as though it had been shut for the last three weeks.

Enforced holiday! Okay, I’ll go hiking instead then.

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Broke-o-meter: ⭐️⭐️

Flight from Edinburgh: £19
Airbnb rental: £97 for three nights
Cash blown on a vice I don’t much enjoy: £35

Final verdict?

Worth a spin if you like long quiet walks in the woods, or if you’ve a lot of cash burning a hole in your pocket you’re dying to be rid of.

Next up: Carcassone, France!