Baden-Baden’s Caracalla Therme

Emperor Caracalla

I think this was the first fully developed hot spring baths I ever went to. If you’re going to start going to baths, where better than in a town named Baths-Baths?  Baden-Baden is one of the most famous spa towns in Germany.  There have been baths here since at least Roman times.  The most modern of these is Caracalla Therme, named for the Emperor Caracalla who visited this town almost 2,000 years ago to treat his arthritis.

Twelve springs supply the 4,000 m² of pools and saunas at Caracalla Therme.  There are many different bathing areas, including a large “no-bathing suits” sauna section.  The overall feel is very clean, white and modern with a passing salute to Rome from the columns and statues by the pools.  There are three outdoor pools and some poolside seating but most of the baths and saunas are indoors.  It can get quite busy and the atmosphere is family friendly, accepting children aged over 7 years, so it can be good to go early in the day when there is less traffic.

In the adult only nude section, there can be older German men who unabashedly ogle women.  I was there with my husband so I don’t know how they behave with single women.  I took it in stride as a cultural thing – when you travel you can’t expect everyone to behave the same way they do in your home country.

hot springs aficionado caracalla bubble jetMy best memory of Caracalla Therme was the bubble jet bath.  I love underwater air jets, especially where these were located in the middle of a larger pool – it gave a real sense of airiness to the experience.  I loved the sensation of so many tiny bubbles massaging my body.  It gave me a tingling sensation running up my back and bubbling to the surface like champagne – it was almost a feeling of being immersed in a giant cup of bubbly Reisling, very light and airy.  Being surrounded by white columns and white statues gave a very classic feel to the experience!

hot springs aficionado caracalla whiteWe spent many hours at Caracalla Therme, wandering from one experience to the other, trying different scented saunas, relaxing in the outdoors area, dining, and always returning to the centerpiece pools with their tall glass solarium walls that marry the feeling of being indoors with the feeling of being open to the air. That was my overall memory of Caracalla: a sense of airiness and openness.

In the lobby is a fountain from which you can drink the waters – at the time I went, little telescoping cups were provided as souvenirs, and I still have mine! The waters are from natrium-chloride springs and are quite strongly flavoured with salts and sulfur, so they taste medicinal and you won’t be drinking very much. The temperature at the main spring is 68C (155 F).

Add Caracalla Therme to your travel plans if you are going to the Black Forest – it’s a wonderful place to spend a day relaxing and recovering from your trip!  Watch the promotional video below to see more of the interior of Baden-Baden’s Caracalla Therme.

 

Google’s Hot Springs Themed Offices in Budapest

Gellert Baths, Budapest

Gellért Baths

The best news story about hot springs this week was the opening of Google’s new offices in Budapest, Hungary.  Budapest has long been known for its thermal baths and is often called the “City of Spas”.  There are 118 springs in the city.  Budapest is one of the few cities that continues the Roman practice of public baths, with 15 large public spas in the city. 

Google’s new offices in Budapest have been designed to celebrate this culture, with boardrooms designed to make you feel like you are soaking while you are in meetings and wooden seating in a sauna theme.  This design is sure to stimulate the creativity in the office!  For more pictures of this fabulous work environment, click on the photo below:

Google's Hot Springs Offices in Budapest

Google’s Hot Springs Themed Meeting Room

Shout out to Graphasel Design studios and Google for being Hot Springs Aficionados – making soaking culture a part of our modern lifestyle.

Soaking in South East Asia

from Soaking in Southeast Asia

from Soaking in Southeast Asia

Every week I try to re-blog someone else’s post on hot springs.  This week, I found four absolutely stunning sites by blogger J.H. Dubbeldam, who runs

Soaking in Southeast Asia,

Soaking in Siam,

Hot Soaks of the Himalayas and

the European Natural Soaking Society. 

His primary focus is natural hot springs – though he does include some developed springs and spas.  His blog posts are very thorough and in depth studies of what is going on in the world of natural soaking.  The layout and photographs are beautiful!  This is the place you want to be if you are looking for hot springs in Asia or for natural hot springs in Europe!  Check out his blogs right now and bookmark them for later!

 

from Soaking in Southeast Asia

from Soaking in Southeast Asia

21st Century Baths, in a Medieval Setting


Nestled on the Geul river, Valkenburg is one of the prettiest medieval towns I have ever seen. The ruins of the city walls and gates are encountered throughout the town, and the 12th century Valkenburg Castle overlooks it all. The castle has been in ruins since 1672, but it manages to really bring to life what medieval wars must have been like. It remains foreboding, brooding, and still majestic in spite of all the efforts to destroy it.

By Kleon3 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kleon3 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Another site we very much enjoyed was the municipal caves, called Gementegroot. This series of caves, 75 km long in all, have been carved out of the soft chalk since pre-Roman times. Because the chalk is easy to sculpt with just your fingers, people have been leaving carvings and graffiti here for thousands of years, and you may be invited to add your own to the 21st century section. One of the more interesting sections is where Allied airmen were hidden during the WWII Nazi occupation. Tours will take you to different sections of the caves depending on the events of that day. There might be an underground market or art show, or you may get to see the original underground Roman baths.

Thermae 2000 is a large complex of hot springs, saunas and baths, built in the early 1990s, located quite near to Valkenburg Castle. There is an attached hotel complex. There are excellent restaurants in the baths, serving good quality spa food. On the day I visited, we enjoyed grilled salmon steaks in our housecoats, nestled by a gas fireplace.
Thermae 2000 Valkenburg

There are numerous saunas and steam rooms with various essences, including the classic eucalyptus. There are at least two (one indoors and one outdoors) long meandering pools to swim in, and an excellent outdoor park. There is a clearly marked “no-bathing-suits” section. The facilities here are extensive, clean and modern. This is a 21st century take on spas in a medieval town built on Roman ruins! The whole experience is great, with lots to see and do, and I loved the blend of ultramodern and completely natural environments. In spite of a high volume of traffic, Thermae 2000 manages to feel very peaceful and provides an excellent getaway from it all.

For more details on admission prices, special packages and current offers, see their website at http://www.thermae.nl/openinghours/

Since my original visit, Thermae 2000 has expanded its facilities and branched into spa services including its own line of skin care products. I can’t wait to return and try all the new products, like the chocolate wrap in this promotional video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUenJZDFrMk

A review by Farah Ritter here: http://thethreeunder.com/2014/02/thermae-2000-european-spa/