9: “No One Told Me I Needed a Bathing Suit”
That was my response when my friend asked if it was in my carry-on bag. I was on a seven-hour layover in Frankfurt on my two-day hell trip to Greece, and he’d met me to give me a respite from terminal boredom in the airport.
“I told Nils to tell you to bring it,” he replied. Hmm, Nils probably thought it would be funny if I didn’t have it. Turns out I was going to a spa – not the kind of spa us Americans are familiar with. This is an entirely different concept.
Now, I’ve been going to Greece, mecca of topless and nude beaches, since I was a kid, so I’d say I’m fairly open-minded about public nudity, BUT, I was used to it being confined to a beach – besides, you can wear sunglasses there. It takes a conscious effort to keep my eyes from shifting down and checking out the goods. I had to keep telling myself to “look up dammit!” The spa had really fascinating ceiling beams. I don’t care what Marco said about German spas having no sexual connotations to them, I noticed the old guys checking out the women when they walked past. All I can say is thank goodness Marco brought oversized towels.
German spas are unlike anything we have in the States. The concept was first proposed by a German doctor named Kneip who having observed Finnish spas (supposedly the inventors of the concept) and in conjunction with his own theories came to the conclusion that a combination of hot and cold exposures was good for the immune system. The current German spa network is based on that belief, but has also adopted the American attitude of bigger is better, with their spas supposedly much larger than Finnish ones.
The spa we went to just outside Frankfurt was done up in a Japanese pagoda design. It consisted of two sections: bathing suit and nude. The suit section had a large indoor/outdoor pool and several jacuzzi-type areas of different temps and an area featuring sunlamps where you could relax and dry off. Upstairs was the nude area and surprise! that’s were most of the people were, stripping off their clothes in the hallway and strolling nonchalantly to the various wet and dry saunas that ranged from hot to “are you out of your f&^%ing mind?!” There was also a frigid plunge pool and a bar/snack area. I’ve never sat nude at a bar drinking Weiss beer before…
I quickly learned how to make a toga out of my towel as I studied the ceiling beams some more. My friend found my uncomfortableness highly amusing, and told me that many business deals get done in the sauna. I’m assuming these are handshake deals as I can’t imagine where they’d keep pens and paper. Also, for my guy readers, I’m told that people will go hang out in the sauna after a date – think of the advantages of that! Also think about all the boring things you’d have to think about to keep your mind off the fact that your date is naked!
Now that I’m not self-consciously nude, I must say it was a very relaxing experience going from hot to cold and back and then resting in a quiet room filled with soft orange light. Unfortunately, something like this would never happen in the States because of all our morbid fixations. Which is too bad because looking back it was a very freeing and enjoyable four hours – and I slept great on the way to Greece.
What I lost this week: my Visa card and $60.
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