Sunday, January 01, 2012


Baden-Baden, a small German town located in the western foothills of the Black forest just 13 mins from the French border. It is renowned for its spas and thermal springs.... and it was the next stop on Mariko and my Christmas (now more of a Holiday) Vacation.

Mariko and I arrived to the town fairly early in the afternoon as the town wasn't too far from Frankfurt. Our first stop was our hotel that we had booked... we only had one piece of luggage but it was large and fairly heavy. When we booked the hotel, the description said it was at the Hauptbahnhof.... so I figured it would be easy to get to. Now when it said at the bahnhof... it didn't mean near, across the street or next to.... it was literally in the main building of the bahnhof.

We checked in at the small coffee shop on the first floor and went up to our room. It was kinda fun sleeping in the train station, and not like some people do on benches and what not (cough-Marianna-cough). They only had 8 rooms in the "hotel" but they were nice, but most important fairly inexpensive in comparison to the rest of the hotels in the city.

The town of Baden-Baden is rather small, but beautiful! Being so close to the French border, you can really see the influence in the architecture. We walked around the town for some bit, enjoying the setting sun over the hills (especially since we hadn't seen the sun in quite a few days) and getting a nice look at the town. There was a fair number of people out and the temperature was cool but definitely acceptable.... basically it was a beautiful evening in Baden-Baden.

Stiftskirche seen behind the Roman baths

Baden-Baden has one large thermal spring, and it is split into two separate sections. The first is the Roman-Irish baths, which was built over 130 years ago. It has 17 stages of bathing and relaxation. Mariko and I were severely tempted to go this route.... except for the fact that it is ALL nude, no bathing suits allowed. The genders would have been separate on the day that we went, except for stages 10 & 11..... and being alone for most of the experience wasn't what we wanted either.

The second section is the Modern baths.... bathing suits required (but sadly Speedos are considered acceptable). When entering you pay in hour increments, we opted for the 3 hours in bath (plus we got a free hour for getting there early on Thursday). After you pay they issue you a watch like device to wear on your wrist. This functions as your "ID" while you are in the baths. It keeps track of the time that you should leave (but doesn't display it) and is used to lock and unlock your lockers... which was rather a cool thing, you can also add money to the ID and use it to pay for additional spa treatments.

The big pool

The major pool was a rather comfortable temperature of 93°F (33°C), something I wish most pools would adopt. The outside pool was 94°F(34°C), so just a tad warmer but had a completely different feel. Since it was winter the outside temperature was around 41°F(5°C)... so you had the chilling feeling of the cold above the water while staying warm under the water. My favorite pool was the hot one! The temperature was 100°F(37°C) and it had a waterfal that you could stand under. My least favorite was directly next to that one.... the water temperature was
Hot pool in blue and cold pool in green
66°F(18°C). It was freaking cold! But Mariko and I sucked it up and tried it out.... we were in less than 30 secs. We spent most of the 4 hours going back and forth between the pools, just relaxing and resting.

The spa also offered a few other "free" relaxing perks. The first that we tried was the Aromadampf-Baden (Aroma Steam Baths). It was HOT in there, and had 100% humidity.... it was a little too much for Mariko so we didn't stay very long, and I wouldn't have minded it so much had the steam been dripping with fragrance (I'm not fond of breathing aromas). The second steam room was the Soleinhalation (Brine Inhalation). Which consisted of a small room with hot water dripping through seaweed and producing a slightly salty steam. It was pleasant and much nicer than the aroma steam room.

The last "free" option was the sauna. For those Americans reading this, you are probably only familiar with American saunas... which are different than European saunas. Mainly due to the fact that in European saunas you are not allowed to wear clothes... nude is required. Mariko and I were debating on whether or not to do this. We didn't want to skip any of the experience, but at the same time.... nude... with other people..... other old people.......but we decided to wear our towels around the sauna, hoping that would be acceptable. We took the stairs up and entered the sauna with caution. At the very entrance was the stripping section, and little cubby holes for everyone clothes. We walked in and Mariko's face went pale and we turned around and left.... she muttered to herself as we were leaving that she had seen more wrinkly old penises in those few seconds than she ever wanted to see in her life.

We were quite pleased with ourselves that we lasted the full 4 hours just relaxing in pools. We were both a little shocked that we heard more French than any other language while swimming (we didn't realize how close we were to the border until recently)... and as the time got later the other swimmers were getting younger.(it wasn't all old people swimming).

The rest of our time in Baden-Baden was spent relaxing (which was very easy after the long spa session) and enjoying our way back to the hotel. Baden-Baden was a beautiful little town and given the chance I know that I would go back and do some more relaxing in the pools and walking along the lovely buildings that decorate it.

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