Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Taking the Waters

All good things must come to an end, and that applies to my short, sweet trip to Germany. I’ll spend most of today on a plane, but if I could, I’d take the waters at one of Allemagne’s famous spas.

The town of Baden-Baden is perhaps the most famous of all the German “spa towns,” and has a history of therapeutic mineral baths beginning during the days of the Roman Empire. Europe’s upper crust convened in Baden-Baden in the 18th and 19th centuries to take the waters, and now this is something that everyone can enjoy, as there are more than 900 spa resorts in the country.

Perhaps this egalitarianism is what I loved most about the times I’ve been to the baths in Germany. Young people, elders, and everyone in between come for the relaxation and rejuvenation. Last year, I took a day at the baths with my dad, my husband, and our two little girls. Coming back to the States, I wondered why this sort of recreation isn’t as prevalent in America. There are plenty of hot springs and spas around the country, but the idea of public baths never caught on to the extent it did in Europe. San Francisco is just across the Bay from my hometown of Berkeley, and used to have the incredible Sutro Baths, which offered fresh water and salt water pools (hot and cold) from the late Victorian era until it was destroyed by fire in 1966. Must all good things come to an end?

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