Last week, Aaron and I celebrated our third anniversary. While it isn't anywhere near a 50th, a 20th or even a 10th, I still can't imagine being married to anyone else and I am so glad that we are experiencing this whole living-in-a-completely-different-country thing together. To celebrate our first anniversary abroad, we booked a weekend in the town spa town of Baden-Baden not too far away from Mannheim. It's one of the most famous spa towns in not only Germany, but also Europe (and maybe the world, but I can't vouch for that). Friday was a National Holiday (the Day of German Unity), so we headed out Friday morning and got to Baden-Baden in the early afternoon and spent the next couple of days in the cute little town.
The town of Baden-Baden was first settled over 2000 years ago by the Romans. The warm, spring-fed mineral waters attracted them and today, they still attract a wide number of visitors. There are still ruins from the first Roman baths still visible beneath the Friedrichsbad facility, which we made sure to visit. The town has evolved over the years, from a Roman bathing town, to ruins during the middle ages, only to be rebuilt in the 1100s. It largely escaped bombing during World Wars I and II, meaning that a lot of the older buildings are still in great shape. After World War II, it was used as a base by the French Air Force.
Today, the town contains a number of spas - the largest and most popular of which is operated by Carasana. Within the complex are four separate spas - ArenaVitals, Caracalla Therme, CaraVitalis and Friederichsbad. ArenaVitales focuses on the physical health of the body and offers personal training and fitness classes; Caracalla Therme closely resembles a public pool but also offers a sauna and a salt room; CaraVitalis is the spa portion and offers massage, body peels, facials, and other spa treatments; Friederichsbad is a Roman-Irish bath that has a 17 step bathing process. For our weekend there, we made sure to visit the Friedrichsbad and CaraVitales. I mean, how luxurious does a seventeen step bath sound?!
I will be detailing our Friederichsbad visit in the next post (17 steps of bathing in the nude kind of warrant their own post). Our visit to the CaraVitales included a rose oil peel, a bath and a massage - glorious. The rose oil peel started off with being scrubbed down with an-oil based exfoliate. We were then wrapped up like burritos and the table we were laying on turned into a warm, massaging water bed. Umm, it was awesome. After letting everything set for a few minutes, we rinsed it all off to reveal ultrasmooth skin. Then in was into a warm, thermal bath - so relaxing! The package we booked contained an assortment of beverages, including sekt (German sparkling wine). We popped open one of the bottles and proceed to enjoy and relax. Then it was on to the massages. We are both used to deep tissue massages to really work out the knots that tend to form, but these were more "fluff and buff" than deep tissue. Regardless, they were still enjoyable.
If you're looking to plan your own trip to Baden-Baden, there are a lot of other things to do that don't necessarily involve bathing or spa treatments (although, admittedly, this is kind of the reason most people go in the first place). Below is a list of other things to do in the region:
- Walking paths/hiking in the Schwarzwald
- Castle ruins to visit (there are three castles that can be visited surrounding Baden-Baden)
- A trip to the Casino
- Take in some of the cultural highlights at the theater
- Visit the home where Johannes Brahms spent his summers
- Take a Bergbahn to the top of Merkur Mountain, and perhaps go hang-gliding
- Ogle at the collection of Faberge Eggs at the Faberge Museum (very close to Caracalla Therme)
- Go shopping at the many shops in the city center
While we weren't able to do all of these because we were too busy relaxing, we did manage to check a couple of them off. Come back in later this week to hear about our trip to Friederichsbad on Wednesday and about what else we did in Baden-Baden on Friday!
- Meghan -