Wiesbaden, located in southwest Germany, is known for its hot mineral springs. But the city offers so much more, according to Air Force spouse and blogger Casey. The town is home to restaurants serving quintessential German cuisine and the city hosts a 10 day wine festival. Wiesbaden, thanks to its convenient location, is also the perfect launch pad for Casey to explore the rest of Europe. (In fact, she just got back from a Mediterranean cruise!)
If you want to know what it’s like living in a city that she describes as “ornate” and “lively,” and get a serious case of moving/wander lust while you’re at it, check out my interview with the author of We Took the Road Less Traveled below!
Tell us about you and your blog.
Hi, friends! I’m Casey, a transplanted Southern girl and the author of the blog We Took the Road Less Traveled! My blog started out as a way to keep our family and friends updated on our PCS to Germany with the Air Force in the summer of 2011, but it’s grown into being a place where I chronicle our travels around Europe, our everyday life as a military family living abroad, and a collection of things I love, such as good food & wine, beautiful spaces, and weenie dogs named Tuck. 🙂
What is the name of the town & base that you live? Describe it in three words.
We live in Wiesbaden, Germany, and are stationed with the Wiesbaden Army Garrison (even though we are an Air Force family). Three words to describe this area: ornate, lively, and wine!
What do you love about living there?
Gosh, what’s NOT to love? Ok, there are a few things, and I’ll get to those in a second. Germany is so rich in culture and history that it’s almost impossible not to fall head over heels for it. Before moving here, I had these whimsical pictures of Germany in my mind. You know, the timbered houses with colorful flower boxes lining each window sill, the rows upon rows of lush vineyards heavy with grapes, the booming, beer-filled festivals teaming with locals dresses in dirndls and lederhosen. Truth is, Germany looks exactly like that. I mean, not in every town every day of the week, but for the most part, my preconceived notions were spot on. Germany is beautiful, the people ARE friendly, and it’s absolutely one of the cleanest countries in the world. Not to mention how centrally located it is in Europe. We can travel almost anywhere in the EU in a short drive or plane ride. Living here as been a dream!
What do you hate about living there?
Hate is a strong word, so I wouldn’t really say that I truly hate anything. I do, however, dislike lots of things. The small and limited parking areas, having to pay to use the restrooms in public, having to pay for water at restaurants (they don’t serve tap water here!), stores closing at 7 p.m. each day, all stores being closed on Sundays, suffering through winters that last from November to April without much sun, how much it rains, shower baths, euro pillows and hotel bedding (it’s odd, really), the overabundance of pork products, and most notably, our strange German toilet. Seriously, it’s a doozie.
Name three local attractions or events you recommend people visit.
Rheingau Wine Festival: it’s a 10-day wine festival in August held in downtown Wiesbaden. Over 100 tents and thousands of different kinds of German wines, all for the tasting! It’s my favorite time of year in Wiesbaden…aside from the Christmas market season.
Oktoberfest: this one is self-explanatory. Want to see thousands of Germans and tourists coming together all for the love of beer? Come to Oktoberfest in Munich. Greatest festival I’ve ever been to in my life! Germans really know how to party!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber: the cutest little medieval walled town I’ve ever seen in Bavaria. Rothenburg was one of the first towns we visited upon moving to Germany and I still have such fond memories of it! When family or friends come to visit, we always take them on a day trip here.
Favorite local restaurants.
Our favorite German restaurant in town is Brauhaus Castle. We go here at least a few times a month. Not only is it a delicious restaurant serving traditiona
Ristorante Comeback is our favorite Italian restaurant downtown. It’s housed in a little alleyway that’s been dubbed “Italian Alley” because of all the quaint al fresco Italian & Mediterranean restaurants lining the street. Ristorante Comeback has some of the most beautifully presented and best tasting Italian cuisine I’ve ever tasted. I’d even dare to say it rivals most of the food I’ve actually tried IN Italy.The chefs are born and bred Sicilians, so no wonder it’s so scrumptious!
Best fast food in Germany? The Doner Kebap. Germans can’t get enough of these things, and neither can I! A doner kebap is Turkish dish (adopted by Berliners 1970’s) consisting of shaved meat (usually pork, chicken, or beef) from a vertical rotating spit stuffed inside a lavash or pita pocket and topped with chopped lettuce, cabbage, tomato, onions, cucumbers, chili spices, and either garlic or yogurt sauce. It’s essentially the perfect hangover food…ahem…or so I hear. 😉
One thing Germany does NOT do well…Mexican food. We’ve yet to find a Mexican restaurant that even compares to the ones we’re used to back in the states. Want a good margarita or fresh salsa? Forget about it. For some reason, the salsa tastes like glorified ketchup here. Germans aren’t quite hip to Mexican cuisine just yet, but I give them an “A” for effort!
Favorite weekend getaways or trips you have taken.
In Germany : Our Lake Constance Anniversary Weekend, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a day-trip to Cochem, grape picking & wine tasting on the Rhine River, viewing Germany from the top of the Zugspitze, and Heidelberg.
Overall: My Big Fat European Family Vacation-our big 2 week vacation around Italy & Germany with 8 of my most favorite family members last May & our recent Mediterranean cruise, which I’m currently recapping on the blog!
What is housing like?When we moved here, there was no on base housing available to us. So, we’ve been living on the economy here in Wiesbaden and we absolutely love it! Being off base, you’re more submerged in the German culture. We have German landlords, German neighbors, and live a short 5 minute walk from downtown. We’re always out and about visiting the downtown Farmer’s Markets, running in the Kurpark, or trying out a new restaurant on the Marktplatz because we’re so centrally located. As for our flat, it’s small. Much smaller than the home we lived in back in the states. Transitioning from a 2,000 sq ft home to a 1,300 sq ft closet-less flat (many European countries don’t do closets) was definitely a challenge! But, with the help of IKEA and some savvy storage techniques, we’ve managed to turn our flat into a warm and inviting place to live. It’s also been a bit of a challenge getting used to using European appliances like our washer/dryer, oven, and tiny German refrigerator. German’s thrive on energy inefficiency, so you can imagine how long it takes me to do one load of laundry in washer…or bake a few dozen cookies in our oven that only holds one small cookie sheet at a time. UGH!
Did you experience any culture shock when you moved to Germany?
Honestly, not that much. Germany isn’t so far off from America, believe it or not. Almost everyone speaks English here, so the language barrier hasn’t been much of a barrier at all. Learning to drive here was a bit different, but now it seems like second nature. I still feel a little strange in certain situations (mostly when I have to communicate with the one person in Germany that DOESN’T speak English), but all in all, culture shock wasn’t really a factor for me. Germany has always kind of felt like home.
If you could give any moving advice, what would it be?
When moving to Europe, do your research. Be aware of the limited space you’ll be working with and PACK LIGHT. If you’re a military family, use your stateside storage option. Leave behind big appliances (like refrigerators & washer/dryers) and thoroughly check the one’s your bringing to make sure they’re dual voltage. Go through your clothing and take what you haven’t worn in the last year to the thrift store…then right before moving, go through it again! Most of all…roll with punches. As with any move, there will be headaches, heartaches, and hiccups, but it’s important not to get worked up and stressed out over every little detail. Have a plan, but be flexible. Moving across the pond can often trigger Murphy (as in Murphy’s Law), so be prepared for anything to happen! Just keep repeating this phrase, “This too, shall pass”…and have a glass of wine close by! 🙂
Websites that would help a newcomer moving to your town.
There aren’t many websites specific to Wiesbaden (except for the occasional Facebook Group page), but there are quite a few resources for those moving to Germany in general. A few of my favorites are: