Wiesbaden was my first solo adventure in Germany. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go on my first day alone, but I knew that I wanted to stay relatively close to Frankfurt/Wetzlar. I had picked up my rental car the night before, but had not yet driven major distances on my own. I had also not driven on the autobahn yet!
The night before, I researched and decided on Wiesbaden and possibly Mainz, because they were close by each other, and relatively close to where I was staying. However, I woke up and the first thing that I did was Google the Christmas Markets to double check the hours and locations.
To my surprise, I found that the Wiesbaden Market, called the Twinkling Star Market, did not officially open until 6p.m. that night. I was really bummed and not sure I wanted to drive an hour and a half to not even see the Wiehnachtsmarkt! Mainz did not open until even later in the week.
I did some quick Googling on the German Christmas Markets website. This is a super handy resource if you’re following my footsteps and going on a Christmas Market tour of Europe! I narrowed my search to look for only open Christmas Markets in the German state of Hesse. This search yielded only one reasonably close option, Rudesheim am Rhein. I decided that I would still drive down and check out Wiesbaden, and possibly Mainz, because there was a palace in Wiesbaden I was interested in checking out, and I figured I’d at least do that. Then, I could drive on to Rudesheim and see their Christmas Market if I still needed more to do.
With this plan in mind, I hit the road! Of course, the second I turned onto the autobahn, it started to DOWNPOUR. Typical. I’m driving on an overcast day in a foreign country on a road with no speed limits, and the weather is AWFUL. The worst part was when I took the “scenic route,” through a tiny town called Ehrenbach, which had these super twisty roads that were perched atop hills. Driving across those hills, you felt like you were going to fall straight off the road into the valley below! And of course, I’m struggling to go the speed limit of 70 on these roads I don’t know, and at this point, thicker fog than I’ve ever seen in my life sets in. The poor Mercedes behind me was not thrilled with my crawl through these roads. Oops!
But I made it through! I got into Wiesbaden, and for whatever reason, I decided I no longer needed the GPS. I could just look for a little “P” with a house over it, which meant “Parkhaus” which translates to “parking garage”!
After about 2 minutes of driving with no GPS, I decided it was stupid, so I pulled over and tried to search for a parkhaus close to the stadtmitte, or the city center. Once I entered a random parkhaus into my GPS, I started driving again. At this point, I saw a sign for a parkhaus, assumed it was the one I was looking for, and pulled right in without thinking twice. I walked out to find that I was actually parked inside a grocery store! A Rewe, to be specific. I figured it was fine, as long as I paid for parking I could be there! And if not, I’d buy a candy bar or something to appease them, if it was “customers only” parking.
I slowly meandered my way up the streets, towards what I assumed was the stadtmitte. After walking for about 5 minutes, I again, decided it was dumb to wander aimlessly, and I turned on my GPS to get me to where I needed to go. I got to the stadtmitte and immediately saw the “closed” Wiehnachtsmarkt. I wandered over to check it out. Most of it was closed, but the “bar” was open! I was able to order my mug full of hot chocolate. Mug #3? Check.
From there, I slowly walked further into the city center. I found their massive Marktkirche. This is a neo-gothic church located on the Schlossplatz of Wiesbaden! It’s a beautiful building. I made my way there and, to my surprise, found out that there was another Wiehnachtsmarkt at it’s base! And it was fully open! I snacked on crepes filled with Kinder chocolate and slowly meandered around the market. I was looking for the perfect Santa to get as a gift for my step-dad, who collects Santas!
The Wiesbaden Wiehnachtsmarkt was massive. And luckily, as it was the middle of a day on a Tuesday, I had it pretty much to myself. I took my time checking out every single stall. I found a fun rubber ducky for my little sister, and I found a few other little knick-knacks as well. Then, I found it. The perfect Santa. There was an old Russian nun selling matryoshka doll Santa Clauses! Of course, she spoke absolutely no English, so it was fun trying to figure out how to pay her. But we figured it out!
With my Santa in hand, I decided it was time to hit the road. I still had plans to visit the palace, and to try and stop in Rudesheim. However, those plans were not meant to be. I walked out of the market in the direction of where I had parked. The parkhaus that I had put into my GPS was the City Parkhaus II. Even though I had parked in the Rewe, and I knew I had parked in the Rewe (although I didn’t know the name at the time, I just knew I had parked in a grocery store), I was convinced I had parked in City Parkhaus II! So I walked over there and realized, “wait. This is not where I parked!” And promptly realized I had no idea where my car was. I recognized some familiar stuff, so I started walking and trying to find things I had passed before.
That fruit on the corner? I walked past that on my way in! So I followed little signs like that, hoping to find my parking garage and my car. The GPS showed me that I was near a grocery store with a parking garage, so I made my way there. Of course, again, that was not my parking garage. Finally, I recognized where I was! I was by the bus stop that was across the street from my grocery store. Sure enough, there was the Rewe, right across the street.
I walked in and went down to the parking garage. I then realized, I had no idea how to pay for parking! So I went back up into the Rewe and asked an employee if she spoke English. When she told me she did, I explained that I was parked below and did not know where to go to pay. Just my luck–she had no idea either! I feel like maybe she just misunderstood what I was asking, though.
There was a sign posted by the parking garage door. Of course, in German. So I tried to get online to translate it, and naturally, there was no internet! Thinking quickly, I tried to see if the Rewe had wi-fi, and luckily enough, they did! There was a little Internet cafe in the store, so they did allow one hour of free internet. I signed in and immediately translated the sign. I needed to go to the Kassenautomat to pay. This was located in the garage. I made my way down there again, paid at the machine, and headed out.
Since I was in the parking garage with no service, I decided to use my car’s GPS to get out of the city. Bad, bad, BAD idea. I punched in the address of Palace Biebrich, the other place in Wiesbaden I wanted to see. I got out of the parking garage, and following the directions of the GPS, turned left down a street. Turns out though, the street is blocked off not 50 meters in! I’m now down this alley, and I can’t back back out because the one street is a main street. I needed to devise a plan to turn around.
One side of this alley is completely lined with barriers, cutting off a lot of space. The other side has these gigantic planters on the sidewalk. Let me tell you, I’m glad my car had the ParkPilot feature! I don’t think I could’ve gotten my way out of there otherwise, I was really starting to sweat. I finally made it out of there and put the directions to the Palace into my PHONE GPS, which I trusted far more.
I made it over to the Palace Biebrich, where thankfully, they had very massive, very free, parking spaces! I really enjoyed that. I spent some time wandering around the grounds and taking pictures. Palace Biebrich is a cool baroque building, built in 1702. It was a cool place to check out, as it overlooks the Rhein! However, shortly after I arrived, it started to rain on me.
I decided to call it a day and head home. I didn’t really want to be out driving after dark, because I was a bit wary of the Autobahn still. Rudesheim am Rhein would have been fun, but I’m glad I decided to not push it. After all, I covered 135 miles on that first day, just going from Wetzlar to Wiesbaden. That was plenty for my first day out.
I took the scenic route back again, because despite the fog, Ehrenbach had beautiful scenery! Of course though, it got foggy and rainy again on my drive so I couldn’t even enjoy it. Oh well! I made it to and from Wiesbaden in one piece, with only a few minor parking incidents. I think my first solo adventure in Germany was quite a success.