Thursday, June 03, 2010


It rained while getting here, but since arriving in Baden-Baden no rain, but plenty of water. If you don't live here, you come to Baden-Baden for just a few reasons. To spend lots of money at the high end shops in the pedestrian zone, or to spend lots of money in the casino or to go to one of the spas. Since one of the goals of this trip is not to break the bank, we came for the latter. Any town with "Bad" in it's name, has a spa. They are all over Germany. Since this towns name is repeated, I guess you could say it's spa is something special.


On a recent trip to Germany, friends Mike and Nancy told us about the spa at Baden-Baden. They gave us a rundown on what it was like and said is was the one of the highlights of their trip. You go through 17 different stations involving water, heat, and cold. Men on one side and women on another. In the middle men and women meet in the thermal therapy pool. On certain days, men and women share all the facilities, on others the sexes are separated. On holidays, it is co-ed. Why must you know this? Because the spa is not a clothing optional zone. Clothing is not allowed. So we made sure were we there on a Thursday, a day the sexes are separated, except in the therapy pool.

Well as the saying goes, "the best laid plans..." It turns out Thursday was a holiday in Germany. Cathie said no, I said yes, so having come all this way, I wasn't going to miss the experience. With Cathie safe in our hotel room, I went local. Nudity here is no big thing. In the summer people in the parks of Munich sunbath topless and no one bats an eye. Going to a spa is just part of life here and it's considered therapeutic.

The following is from the spa's brochure:

On opening in 1877, Friedrichsbad was considered to be one of most beautiful bath houses in Europe. When you enter, you immediately get a sense of the history, culture and atmosphere of over 130 years of bathing tradition. Take a step back in time and enjoy the unique beneficial effect of the Roman bathing culture, combined with Irish hot air baths. The temperature changes are deliberately coordinated to be beneficial; after a sharp increase at the beginning, the temperature gently drops until the cold water immersion bath. Who can resist!

Here's how it went. Pay your fee and decide if you want what is termed a "soap-brush massage". Mike told me, do it as it's part of the experience, but he added, "it hurts". So I passed. You change into your birthday suit, and take from your locker a sheet, which turns out is your towel. At each station, there are instructions on the wall, in English, telling you how long to stay in that particular room. My first mistake was leaving my glasses in the locker. At the first station, the shower, there is an attendant stationed to get you started. So you spend 5 minutes under a shower of copious amounts of water. After a good dousing, you go to the "warm air bath". It's then you discover that the sheet is not for covering you up, but to lay upon on the very hot wood tables in the sauna where the temperature is a balmy 129 degrees. I think the sign said 15 minutes. Next, it's the "hot air bath" and you ask yourself, what did I just have. Then you find out what hot is. 154 degrees for 5 minutes, I think.

Not knowing if I was getting the times right, I figured I'll just follow someone and hope they don't need glasses. This worked for a while, but I think the person I chose to follow was into torture. Next you get to shower again before heading to the steam baths, 113 and 118 degrees, after which you start to cool down in the thermal whirlpool and therapy pools. The latter is under a huge domed room done in the the roman style. Next it's another shower before the cold water immersion bath at 64 degrees, which after what you just experienced feels like 30 degrees.

Next you get a warm towel to dry off before going to the cream service room, where if you choose, you can rub various lotions on you body. Hey, I paid for it, I'm doing it. Lastly the relaxation room for 30 minutes. Here you lay on a table and the attendant wraps you in a warm sheet and blanket and you enjoy the warmth and complete silence. It's then that you really relax.

The whole thing takes about 2.5 hours and you never have felt so relaxed and clean, until you have to put on your dirty socks and underwear. Was it worth it? You bet. Did I feel uncomfortable? Only for the first 5 minutes when I didn't know what to do with the sheet. Would I do it again? Why not?



Baden-Baden has a really nice parking running through the middle of the city. It's a couple of miles long and a great place to stroll after your bathing experience.

Cathie's always making new friends. Could this be Claus?
From here we head to the Black Forest for several days with our friends, Hans and Silke, the German couple we met in Utah last year. At that it's back to Geneva for our flight home next week.

1 comment:

Julie Camacho said...

LOL on the whole experience...and Mom declining!! Love mom's new friend.