We woke up to clear skies, finally! Still not ready to try a German meal - we clearly didn't come to Germany for the food - we allowed ourselves our first indulgence in McDonald's since we left the US. It was everything we'd hoped it would be. They even served American-sized drinks!
But that wasn't our only indulgence that day, because we spent most of it at Friedrichsbad!
Friedrichsbad is a thermal bath spa located in the resort town of Baden-Baden, Germany. The word "Baden" is derived from an ancient form of the word "bath," so the fact that they named the town twice was pretty telling about what kind of experience we were in for.
Friedrichsbad is modeled after the traditional Roman communal bathhouse - and we mean traditional. After paying the entry fee, we went into the locker room and stripped down to our wedding bands. The days alternate between separate and mixed gender bathing days - meaning every other day, men and women of all ages bathe together in nothing but their birthday suits. We went on a mixed day because we wanted to enjoy the experience together. The first five minutes of walking around nude with a bunch of strangers was a little bit unusual, but we quickly became accustomed to it and felt so liberated! The bathing process at Friedrichsbad has 17 steps, comprised of a combination of showers, thermal pools, cold pools, saunas, massages, etc. The purpose is to slowly raise your body temperature and then slowly bring it back down.
A true highlight was the scrub room where a staff member scrubs your whole body with soap and a stiff brush. Hirsh was assigned a cute young woman and Sarah was assigned a very no-nonsense middle-aged German man. My (Sarah's) Mom used to tell me that she bathed me in the sink like a chicken when I was a baby. I couldn't help but think of that throughout this process, because my German bather was thorough and efficient and signaled that the scrub was over with a quick slap on the bottom and a terse "now go shower."
Another true highlight of the experience was the relaxation room. In here, you lie down on a gently heated padded table and get wrapped up like a burrito in warm sheets and plush blankets. You can sleep as long as you'd like. It was absolutely divine. Afterward, you wander around nude and choose a snack. We chose organic fruit smoothies and a Mediterranean platter with cheese, grapes, and olives. We relaxed for another hour in loungers in a sun-filled room with our snacks and magazines. Five hours after we entered, we got dressed and reluctantly re-entered the real world.
While pictures are not prohibited in the bathing area, we felt it would be in poor taste to wander around with a camera. Instead, we took this makeup-free, hair's-all-a-mess picture in the lobby.
And a picture outside the spa...
It was a wonderful life experience that we would love to do again. We seriously considered doing it again the next day, in fact. We have never felt so clean!
Check out their website to see pictures of the actual baths and plan your visit! Bonus points if you go with someone you know who's not your partner. 😉
After bathing, we checked into our wonderful hotel in the heart of downtown, Hotel Merkur. Family owned and operated, they were lovely people and the hotel was quite a steal.
The welcome gift was a mini pack of Haribo gummy bears!
We had dinner at a forgettable restaurant in the middle of town, but at least we enjoyed excellent people watching. We finally tried German food for the first time on this trip, and it was everything we had imagined it would be, and less. The beer was delicious though!
Then Hirsh found his dream car...