Wednesday, March 23, 2011
For those of you who haven't heard, Berlin Zoo's beloved Knut (that's kuh-noot for you non-German speakers) passed away last week. He was a troubled young polar bear, rejected by his mother and raised by a zookeeper named Thomas. Last year Thomas died and Knut went through a rough period, rejecting sexy female polar bears, and-- this is my favorite Knut story-- after a misguided person jumped into his habitat, he donned the human's sweater over his head and wore it, we can only assume, to taunt the jumper.
Various news outlets are now reporting that Knut died from a brain injury, but isn't it interesting how I received this flyer from Main/Taunus Peugeot dealership two weeks before his untimely death? Is my Peugeot dealer psychic? Or, was Peugeot able to predict Knut's demise because they had a hand in it?!?
But in honor of Valentine's Day, and me not doing half bad on my GREs, Ryan and I made the trip to Baden-Baden (literal translation: bath-bath) to partake in its legendary spa.
Baden-Baden is a famous old resort town in the Black Forest. Many came and still come to be healed in it's natural hot springs. Clutching my copy of Rick Steves' Germany, Ryan and I entered into our designated sides of the spa (it was a non-mixed day). Rick says to enter a changing room, strip, place all belongings in a locker, take a towel, and head into the spa. From there one goes through 14 steps, from steam room, to hot pools, soap massage, cooler pools, cold dunk, and finally being wrapped in a cocoon of sheets and taking a nice nap.
I got undressed and stowed my things in a locker. There wasn't a towel in the locker. I peeked around the edge of the lockers...I saw a woman in a bathrobe talking to a woman dressed in white. "Oh no!" I thought, "I'm supposed to have a bathrobe!" I hunted through the locker, and then in the dressing room-- nothing. I stood there in a naked panic, trying to decide what the least embarrassing option was. I opted for peeking around the edge of the locker and calling to the attendant that I needed a towel. But as I looked around the edge of the lockers, I saw a large, dimpled bottom. Never in my life was I so relieved. She was leaning casually against the wall. I decided to follow her lead, and stood behind her in a naked lady queue. The attendant came for us and exclaimed, "Oh, you don't have towels!"
The large-bottomed lady said, "Clearly not."
After that, I realized that there is no embarrassment behind the doors of the German spa. The naked ladies did all sorts of swimming, walking, lying around in steam rooms, and I was amazed by how quickly I got used to seeing naked people.
Germans always laugh at how prudish Americans are about nudity and sex. And I think they have a point. Going to a spa in Germany you shed a lot of hang-ups when you strip down. Maybe Americans would be a little more relaxed if they spent more time hanging out naked in hot springs. At any rate, whether you want to relax, ogle, or be healed by the magic minerals, Baden-Baden gets a big thumbs up.