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Friday, August 20, 2010

Bathing Admidst the Mountains

We spent Thursday in Leukerbad, this amazing mountain village that flows with thermal baths.  Doug had hurt his knee at the end of our hike on Wednesday so we thought this would be a good choice to try and help him heal.  The setting is absolutely gorgeous.  It is just the next village over from Crans Montana but you have to go down and then up again so lots of windy roads and twisty turns.  The entire valley is just breathtaking so we enjoyed it.  We've been to baths in Europe before and they always entail a bit of anxiety because it's hard to figure out what the proper protocol is.  We don't speak French to begin with so after purchasing our tickets and going through the entrance, we were pretty much on our own!  After finally figuring out that there are not separate places for men and women we found our way to a locker and saw the closed doors dressing rooms. No nudity or topless bathing for women was allowed.  All shapes, all sizes, all types of swimwear and what I really like is that it's not a big scam scene.  No where cares what anyone else looks like.  Everyone is there for the company and the bubbles! The next big hurdle was trying to figure out how to get the key removed from the locker slot.  After several failed attempts, I finally located the pictogram that walked us through it and we were happily on our way to hot water and lots of bubbles!  It wasn't terribly crowded which was nice but it was still a bit funny to be in these giant bubbling pools with one hundred of your not so close friends!  We decided to try the jet walk first.  You simply stand on the edge of one of the pools and find the jet that is shooting out from the wall.  They are at different heights and you can massage your feet or back or legs.  After a while, a bell rings and everyone steps to the next position.  It's all so civil and organized!  True to form, I almost lost my sunglasses by diving under water with them on my head, but I was able to find them sitting on the pool floor!
It was a lovely day so we decided to get outside and bask in the sunshine and mountain air.  We finally found the level with all of the different thermal pools and had a good time going from one bubble to another.  They have a foot bad with steaming hot water that feels great once you adjust.  You walk through the hot, hot water and wander right into a cool pool.  They also have a place where an unfiltered, natural pool sits and it is hot, hot, hot in there.  We both loved it.  Ease yourself  into the steaming water.  Sit for as long as you can, (about 1 and half minutes) then get out and go dip into the cold water pool, which wasn't all that hard for us as it felt pretty much like the Baltic does.  It was cold, but so is the archipelago!
I even dared to go down the giant water slide on an innertube.  It was quite enjoyable and pretty fast. Makes me wonder how the bobsledders feel when they are zipping down the curves on ice at a much faster pace!
Each pool has a different bubble sensation and you find your way to one of the seats along the wall and wait for your bubbles to turn on.  When that cycle is finished, you move on, making way for the next folks to enjoy it.  I was impressed by how orderly it was and how everyone was respectful of the rhythm.  Swiss timing, I guess!
One of my favorite things were these metal shoots that high pressured water shot out of.  You could stand with your shoulders in the water stream and get a great massage.  When we needed a break, we spread our towels on the grass and enjoyed the mountain setting, some that still had snow.
There are fewer ways to spend a more relaxing day than bubbling away in the shadows of majestic beauty.  We slept well that night.