I am going on the GAS tour and understand that you can go to the "spa" or Mineral Baths and take a swim. I have never been to Baden-Baden and this looks like fun. What is it like, what do you do, is it inside or is it outside the pools. Did you bring a towel? As anyone used a micronet travel towel that RS sells? If so, was it worth bringing. Do they supply towels? How much is it to go to the baths? Are there more than one place to go in Baden-Baden? How long much time did you spend there? I would bring a bathing suit, is it coed? Please let me know your experiences? Thank you.
look at the 2 trip diaries posted on the RS site for this tour. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/now-there-are-five They talk about the spa visit.
As I recall, there's information in the guidebook that covers the "Spa" experience in Baden Baden. You might find it helpful to read this article.....
The spa experience is covered on one of the older RS TV show episodes. It was back when his kids were young....I believe it's the Black Forest episode.
Ann -- Here is my experience of the "naked" spa: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/londonpenguin/4/1346708408/tpod.html. They did supply towels, and I think my BF and I spent around two hours there. The bathers were all ages (no children when I was there though), shapes, sizes, etc. The whole experience was amazing!
I also have an RS micronet towel, which I've only used for drying my hair; it works reasonably well.
Thank you Teresa for posting the link which shared your experiences regarding the baths. I have also been very curious about this experience, ann.
Rick has zeroed in on the extremely regimented specific treatment available in Baden Baden, if people want that.
It is not what most people going to German (Austrian, Dutch) spas go for.
I've been going to German spas regularly - sometimes to return to my old favourites, sometimes to discover new ones, sometimes just to relax at whatever is where I am at the moment.
I've been to Baden-Baden spa twice, and have never undertaken the "treatment".
My wife and I prefer to swim or play in the water outside, particularly trying out what we call the water toys, such things as a strong current to float around a lazy river in, or hot nozzles to play on the back or neck, or grottoes, or coarse or fine bubbles which suddenly erupt from the floor of the pool, or maybe 15 more variations, including whirlpools like a jacuzzi, water sun beds with bubbles, a curtain of rain etc.
After we have had our fill of the pools we may or may not head for the saunas.
Generally in most spas, the main pool areas are for all ages and sexes, and bathing costumes - bathing suits - are required. In some, bathing caps are either suggested or required, for men and women and children, regardless of hair.
There is usually a separate charge for the other area, which goes by different names in different places, but which at a minimum contains a sauna or two, a cold plunge, a resting area and often another pool, usually without water toys. Quiet is preferred.
You can receive various extra cost spa treatments such as various styles of massage, hot stone treatment, reiki, etc. within the wellness area.
In the sauna areas, no clothing is permitted, and when in contact with the hot wood in the sauna cabins you must have a towel between you and the wood. In the better places there will be several or many different types of sauna for you to choose from as you wish, at different temperatures, different humidities, and different amount of salt in the air; as well as several with infusions of various types. Particularly fun for me are the high steam sauna with coloured light therapy with music, and the floatation pool in a dark room with very quiet music and colored lights or stars.
I still haven't found the perfect spa, but my favourite 3 at the moment are Erding near Munich, which claims to be the biggest spa in the world - probably why I've never yet been into the sauna world there and only explored about half or less of the outdoor part - and the Keidel near Freiburg im Breisgau in the southern Black Forest which is more old school, and Therme 2000 in the Netherlands near Maastricht and Aachen which has, I think, the best sauna side pool I have used.
Hi Ann - I think we know each other from "Florence in 7 Days" in May 2007! Hope it is you and you've been well.
I did the GAS tour in August 2008 and it was one of my favorites! I really wanted to stretch my comfort range so I went with the traditional Friedrichsbad spa. I tried to talk others in the group into it but only had one other person that was interested (more on that in a minute).
My experience was pretty much what Teresa wrote up. Rick seems to time the visit to Baden-Baden on "separate" (non-coed) day, so you'd be with women only for all except one optional pool. You check in (definitely buy the soap massage!) and are given a wrist strap that you "clock in" when you enter the changing area. There is a process you follow which is posted on the walls with the recommended length of time for each room: shower, warm/dry, hot/dry, soap massage, shower, warm/humid, hot/humid, warm pool, bubbly pool (like sitting is champagne!), co-ed pool (lost my courage here so I skipped it), another pool I think, cold pool (skipped this one, too), shower, cream massage (if you pay for it someone rubs lotion on you; otherwise, you do it yourself), then to the blissful relaxation room where they cocoon you in a fresh sheet and blanket. I dozed off. You can and should ask them to wake you at a certain time. You then get dressed and "clock out" within 3.5 hours of your start time (or there is an extra fee). You'd be surprised at how quickly the time goes! I was floating for the rest of the day. :)
Some others in the group went to the Caracalla Spa. One couple said that while they enjoyed it, it was more of a water park and they wish they had done the traditional spa.
So, that other person that went to the traditional spa with me? As the trip went on, he and I discovered we had a lot in common, and now are a couple! You just never know what might happen on a tour. :)
Ann your RS guide will clue you in as to what to expect. Nothing you need to prepare for, or decide ahead of time. Towels will be available.
- Germans take their Sauna seriously. There will be lists of rules, so make sure you follow them. (it is basically frowned upon to take kids to the sauna as most people use this as a restful time and do not really want kids around, but it will not be forbidden as long as they are with a parent, are quiet, behave and are comfortable seeing naked adults)
- Many indoor pools will have Sauna areas available at an extra charge, usually by the hour or with a day pass. They will sometimes have separate saunas for men and women, or certain times of the day where this is the rule. Check before you go to see if this is the case during the times you will be there, especially if this is something you prefer. Every city with BAD in its name will also have Thermal Baths to visit that will include saunas. Many are very elegant and beautiful. (Bad Homburg, Bad Nauheim, Wiesbaden)
- Be aware that once you enter most sauna areas, lots of nudity will be on display. People tend to just disrobe without any concern. Unless you are there on a divided sex day, even the showers may be mixed.
- After you disrobe, grab a towel and a robe, put on your flip-flops or shower shoes and you are on your way for your sauna experience. You can wear your robe or wrap your towel around you if you like. Do not wear a bathing suit.
- Do go shower before entering the Sauna, this is pretty much a requirement.
- It is best to avoid eating garlic or curries the day of or the day before going to the Sauna. This can really stink up the place as you sweat it out of your pores and you will be very unpopular.
- Most Sauna areas will have several different sorts of Saunas, perhaps with different aromas, or with lights that change color while you sit there (it's an esoteric thing) and most often, with what is called an "aufguss" (more on that in a bit)
- Hang up your robe, bring your towel, remove your footware, and enter the Sauna quickly. People hate it if you let out too much heat! Give a greeting in a general sort of fashion, a simple "guten tag" is enough. Pick out your place, spread your towel and sit down on it, or if you prefer and the Sauna is not full, you can lay down too. It is going to be a lot hotter up at the top. It is ok to switch positions, if you find it is too hot for you. Most people will sit inside for about 15-20 min. which is long enough to be covered in sweat. When you leave, again, do so quickly.
- Go rinse off in the shower and then go jump into the "cold pool". This is the refreshing part, and very important to get the full health benefits of a Sauna.
- Most people put on their robes now and rest for a bit before repeating the process. Good time to drink some water. Go easy on the alcohol on Sauna days! There are usually lounge chairs to lay on.
- THE AUFGUSS - There should be a schedule for this for whatever Sauna room this will be happening in and what aroma will be used. Get there a few minutes early and take your place. If you have never done this before, you will not want to be near the top row, as it will get REALLY hot. An employee of the Sauna will come in, give a greeting, then pour scented water on the hot stones. This naturally produces a lot of steam and they will then swirl a towel around their head to circulate this steam and then flap it around in the different directions. This will cause everyone to immediately break out in sweat! Everyone then applauds to show their appreciation for a job well done and he/she leaves. One needs to sit there for awhile, since if you get up and leave now, all the good steam goes out the door. This becomes a contest, as no one wants to be first. It is better not to go in big groups out the door if you can help it. Then go shower and do the cold dip thing. (the first time I saw this whole procedure, I was in total awe. Could not believe people applauded for being made to sweat! and the whole swirling towel thing was amazing)
As an extra tip - if you are wearing a necklace with anything hanging on it, switch it to the back. Otherwise it gets too hot.
I want to thank everyone who posted a response to my question. Thank you all. It really helped and made things more clear as to what to expect. What an amazing experience this must be. Every response was so informative and clear and helpful. I don't expect to go back to Baden-Baden so this will be a one time deal and I want to make the most of it. With your help it will. Thanks again.
Sue: Yes, we do know each other! Thanks for writing. I sent you a private message. Please check your private messages on this forum. Best, Ann
I did the "naked" spa on the GAS tour in 2006. I was able to convince one other person to come with me. What I found for the most part the sexes are separate. There are three pools where they are together. But no one really thought anything about it. Also I did not have my glasses on so I really could see anything. This might have been a good thing :-). But after the initial, OH MY God I am Naked you forgot about it as everyone is so matter of fact. I think the only people looking were tourists :-).
The experience was wonderful and way out of my comfort zone. I would also recommend the soap massage and then going to the relaxation room at the end. You get wrapped up like a burrito and it is quiet. Very relaxing. I came out totally relaxed and very, very glad I did it.