I feel ickey ...
Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
44Trip End Aug 03, 2008
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Annoying - breakfast here ends at 8:30, so I had to drag myself down to eat, still half-asleep. After stuffing myself with another boring German breakfast, I went into town. First up was the casino - I settled for taking some exterior shots, instead of paying for the guided tour. I really didn't care about the inside, anyway. Next up was the Trinkhalle - a beautiful building that is the home of the TI
I strolled through the small pedestrian zone, and the rest of town. Because of all the geothermal activity underneath Baden Baden, the warm soil allows Mediterranean-type foliage to flourish here. As a result, it's a very beautiful, green town - if ever there was a town designed for a picnic, this is it!
Most tourists come here to visit the two baths - the first is the Baths of Caracalla, more popular with tourists because it's not the traditional, fully-nude type, unlike the Friedrichsbad, which is fully-nude and more authentic. Funny story - at breakfast yesterday, Lettie told me that two American ladies were staying at her place, and asked her which bath they should visit, because they were shy about the nudity She told them "Go to the nude one - you're on vacation, and nobody knows you here." Well, the following day at breakfast, another tourist said to the American ladies "You look familiar ... were you at the baths yesterday?" Ha ha!
Having already accidentally flashed those senoritas earlier in the trip in Oslo, I figured I'd go with the authentic experience. It was a little weird at first - well, it actually was weird the whole time, but you started to ignore it after a while
The baths are actually quite the process, and follow how the ancient Romans used to do it. To start, there are numerous dry and steam saunas of varying temperatures, and each has a recommended time. I paid extra for a soap scrub and massage - I had resigned myself to getting scrubbed by a butch German lady, though deep down I wished that I would end up with someone that looked like one of the gorgeous German girls I saw in Hamburg. But even worse, I ended up with a dude.
"Hard brush or soft brush?" he asked me, rather brusquely. "Uh ... soft?' I replied. OMG! The pain! The hard brushes must feel like sandpaper! No man has ever touched me in that way before ... except for my doctor, but I don't like to talk about that ...
He started scrubbing my front, starting from my legs, and working his way up to my stomach, then to my chest. Inside I was screaming "Noooooooo!!!! For the love of God, not the nipples!!!", as I had a vision of there being nothing left on my chest, except for two bloody spots where my nipples once stood. Relieved, he asked me to turn over and did my backside (that doesn't sound too good, does it?)
After finishing, he slapped me on the ass and commanded me to take a shower. Does he do that to everybody, or did he just take a liking to me? I was a little offended, because I normally charge people to touch me like that. Unless it's a Spanish senorita, then it's free - oh, who am I kidding? It's free for any woman that asks!
After sobbing uncontrollably in the fetal position for several minutes, I was able to compose myself enough to take a shower. I realized that had it been a butch female German attendant that had manhandled me in that way, I probably would have felt even more violated! Though my skin was clean, I felt quite ickey after this experience :(
I went through a few more saunas, and then to the pools - like the saunas, there were several different temperatures and recommended soaking times. I thought floating in the first pool, under a tiled dome was very cool - until ... the next dome! Wow! The second dome was very ornate, and beautifully decorated - it felt like I was floating inside a cathedral, and was a bit of an out-of-body experience
Normally, the baths are completely co-ed, except for one or two days a week (like today), where there are separate male and female streams. But no matter what day it is, the two main pools are always co-ed. After the main pools, I took one last shower (I had already taken two or three before this), and then one last dip in the frigid final pool. They don't even suggest a time for this one - the instructions tell you to jump in and jump out.
I missed the warmed-towel station and ended up making a wet mess on the floor in the lotion room, where the attendant reprimanded me for it. I sheepishly apologized, hoping that he wouldn't punish me by using hard brushes to scrub off my nipples.
I applied lotion to myself, like the instructions suggested, but was disappointed that they didn't import any gorgeous German girls from Hamburg to help with this task. Next up was the relaxation room, where an attendant helps you climb into a bed, wraps you up tightly like a baby, and you sleep. The final station is the reading room - getting bored, I left before the prescribed 30 minutes of reading.
All in all, it was quite the unique experience, but I don't think I would do it again
Lunch was at the Lotus Chinese Restaurant, recommended by both the guidebook and Len. Jasmine green tea - though it was too hot today for tea, I had to satisfy my craving for it. At 8.30 Euro for lunch, it was relatively cheap considering that Baden Baden is an expensive town, even though the restaurant was self-serve (order at the counter).
I walked down Sophienstrasse, a tree-lined promenade with high end shops. There's definitely no shortage of budget food options in Baden Baden - cafeterias, Asian restaurants, kebab shops ... there are tons of backpacker-style eateries but surprisingly, very few backpackers around. I wanted to catch one of the free concerts by the casino's orchestra, but there wasn't one today. Instead, I wandered around, shopped, then found a nice shady spot on a bench in front of the casino, and napped.
I found a cheap internet cafe and caught up on some blogs, then looked for a kebab shop for dinner. Back to the hostel, where I chatted with Len some more. He's a very interesting fellow - well-traveled and quite knowledgeable about Germany, and provides many obscure facts about the country. He probably loves Germany as much as I love Spain! Well ... maybe not quite ...