05 September 2007

Day Sixteen: September 3rd, Wiesbaden, Germany

Hot springs bubbling up from under the city:

(Photos are of Bonifatiuskirche, Heidenmauer, Marktkirche and other stuff...)


I can't believe it's been so long since I've been home, but then again...I guess I really do feel it. (man, I hope I paid my cable bill!)

Now about Wiesbaden. I roll into this town at sunset last night. My first thought was, "OK now, what's their racket in Wiesbaden?" because the architecture here is different and quite ornate in comparison to other cities I've seen in Germany. Perhaps it's because I'm in the Hesse region now.

Most of the buildings are 4 stories tall. I wonder if it's a building code thing. There's quite an array of styles here, but I'd say baroque is the most strongly represented (if I've got my styles right) And there are plenty of mansions here, too. It also stinks a little bit. I'll get to that.

I parked the car and set off to get something to eat. I'm in the center of the old town so there were all these trendy restaurants and I knew they'd be expensive. Besides, I just wanted some more good German food and a beer. I come across what looks like a local pub, so I walk in and boy it sure was local! There were like 7 (nearly) identical old German guys sitting at the bar. I walked past them all hoping to find a seat at the end. At the end of the bar was a lone black guy. There wasn't really a seat there, but it was the end of the bar so I stood and waited to order.
Well, Mack and I got to bullshitting. Turns out he's from New York and has been living here for 30 years! (he's a retired military man) I asked him where this town got all this money from. He told me all about the history. It's a spa town and has hot springs running underneath it. In fact, you can see the spring bubbling up from the ground in the picture with the orange thingy. That's also why there's a mild stink here. It's kind of sulfur-y, but not overwhelming. Not pleasant, though, that's for sure.
This town is full of rich people, many who come from the Persian Gulf to get treatments at the various clinics here. That's part of why there's so much money in this town!


He also told me about the various regions, about being a black man living in Germany, about New York, about a whole lot of stuff. He also recommended a restaurant to go to that was still open. It was, as usual, a great meal. I asked him how safe he thought it was for me to take photos late at night and he said I should be fine, but watch myself. You know.
It was great talking to him. I only wish I'd met him at the beginning of the trip!

I set off to take photos, find a place to sleep or whatever. But as usual I'd lost track of time. I started walking toward the car and this dude was walking the other way. Well, my Spidey-sense kicked in and sure enough I turn around and motherfucker is now following me. I did my crazy-person-mumbling-to-herself "...don't think I don't see you there, motherfucker..." thing and he knew I noticed and stopped following me. There were still plenty of people on the street, but I got what I needed from that experience. I knew it wasn't so safe here at night.
I go into another bar to use the bathroom and have a drink. By then I was pretty sure I'd be sleeping in my car because this is an expensive town and it was late to boot.
It was another local hangout. The bartender, Michael, was really cool. He and I talked for about an hour about the cultural differences between Germans and Americans, my travels, his lovers (he's gay) and other random stuff OH! And he told me a fascinating story about Ulm!

Remember the cathedral I love so much? (still my favorite from the trip) Apparently way back in I think he said 1400-and-something, this guy climbed to the top of it and tried to fly off! He landed in the river nearby. Not sure what the contraption looked like, but I'm gonna find out. That's crazy!! It's also the birthplace of Einstein. Or is that here in Wiesbaden? (shit, I lose track)

Anyway, I finally left. He told me to be careful around here late at night. I was a little bummed out because I really wanted to shoot photos. But he was right; there definitely is a dark element here. I get the feeling there's a big drug culture. A lot of people wandering around "looking for something". And I saw someone score this morning at 7am. Score what? I'm guessing heroin. A lot of the guys around here look like they're on smack.

As far as youth culture goes, I think it may be a similar deal as with Ulm. However, here it seems to be more about class wars than cultural wars. In Ulm, the youth is rebelling against the old school & the old ways. In Wiesbaden, the youth is rebelling against the old money. That's my impression, anyway.

I'm getting ready to go to the airport in a couple of hours. Like I said, I'm ready to go now. But not before taking some photos of this town!


It is SO gloomy today. It rained on me, too, but that's just fine because I'm leaving anyway.

I was just thinking about how this city is similar to Brussels in the sense that it's beautiful, yet has a dirty element. I get the same kind of vibe here.

I'm ready to go...for now.