Monday, March 5, 2012

Irish-Roman Bathhouse (Sorry, no nude photos)

Friday was the now-typical blur: go home and nap after work, and party till 4:30am in Freiburg.  Most of Saturday was spent on the couch watching tv and eating schnitzel.  That evening I decided to get myself back into gear and start travelling again.  Baden Baden was next on the list of free destinations!

Quick background of this splendiferous city: around 150 years ago Europe's high rollers would come to Baden Baden to soak in the natural spring mineral waters, and gamble their fortunes away in what was the world's top casino.  There's money here.  Lots of it.

I meandered around the city, images of Scrooge McDuck playing in piles of gold coins flashing through my mind

I couldn't help but notice the way the city seemed to ooze wealth and class.  Take a peek:

Roman-Irish Baths (Described in Detail Later) 
Rather Nice Here
The Modern Baths
Fresh Mineral Water (I Definitely Exceeded the Recommended Max. 125mL Per Day)
Classy Shopping District 
Maybach 62 (Base Price ~€ 365,000)
The Casino (Which I Unfortunately Didn't Enter)

Maybach 62 (Base Price ~€ 430,000)
Very Weird Being Alone in a Huge Church
Money, Minus Class
After finding a Doner Kebab place hidden in an alleyway (successfully avoiding spending my considerably lesser wealth on an extravagant dinner), I set off to the Irish-Roman Bathhouse Friedrichsbad to see what all the fuss was about.

Friedrichsbad, Opened in 1877

Stepping inside, I was greeted with the smell of mineral-rich water and a mighty grand double set of stairs.  After paying my 33 euro entrance fee (including an extra 10 for a soap-and-brush massage) I climbed said stairs and strolled into my private change room.

Dress code in the baths is strictly nude, and everything is mixed-gender.  There are 17 steps in the ritual, starting with a shower under what feels like your personal waterfall.  Next, you spend 15 minutes lying in a warm-air bath (54°C), followed by 5 minutes in a hot-air bath at 68°C.  After another shower, you lay down for a full-body soap-and-brush massage, preparing you perfectly (after yet another shower) for the thermal steam baths, where you chill out like never before for 10 minutes on warm slabs of marble.  The next room is a full thermal bath at a warm 36 degrees, and then another at 34 degrees.  

Photo of the Thermal Kinotherapeutic Bath Shamelessly Stolen from the Friedrichsbad Website
The centre of the bathhouse has a 17-metre high dome soaring above the 28°C pool.  They call this the Thermal kinotherapeutic bath.  I like these big words.  Upon exiting the Thermal kinotherapeutic bath, you take another amazing shower, and jump in the cold-water bath at 18 degrees.  Half-regret follows as you feel refreshed but considerably smaller, and you walk nude to the drying room where you are greeted with warm towels.  The huge 16th room is a resting area, where a great number of beds are laid out around the room.  You are wrapped in a towel and warm covers, and drift away in the most relaxed state imaginable for half an hour.  After leaving the room on your own time, there is a reading room with tea and magazines; once you're done, you head to the changerooms and prepare to leave.  

My sensation of absolute cleanliness was followed by putting used clothes on and spending 3 hours on crowded public transportation, then riding a bike for 15 minutes up the large hill to my flat.  I still felt clean when I arrived home - that's saying something.  

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