I gave serious thought to going to the Sindelfingen Street Fest this afternoon. Then I looked up at the cloudy sky and decided I'd rather spend the afternoon naked with a bunch of Germans. I told Bill we should go to a spa, since it's been ages since our last visit. Poor Bill is such a good sport. Although he knows I love a good spa day, the thought of going to one strikes dread in his heart, especially when we go to ones that have textile free areas or are entirely textile free. But he loves to make me happy and he can't deny that after a few hours at the spa, he always comes home relaxed.
Bill takes a deep breath before enduring the horror of bathing suits.
At first, I was kind of wanting to visit the Schwabenquellen, mainly because when we went the last time, it was a lot less crowded than the Mineraltherme in Böblingen usually gets. However, the Schwabenquellen's restaurant is not as good as the Mineraltherme's is and it's not as close to where we live. It's also entirely textile free, which I know Bill is leery about. Sure enough, when I made the suggestion, he said he preferred Böblingen, so that's where we went.
We arrived at the Mineraltherme at a little after one o'clock and enjoyed a very nice lunch. Of the spas I've been to in this area, I would say the Mineraltherme has the best restaurant. It offers somewhat healthy, upscale dishes instead of the usual pizzas, burgers, and brats offered elsewhere. Today's lunch was no exception. We each enjoyed wine-- I had a Riesling and he had a Gray Burgundy, along with our usual sparkling water.
They brought out a very nice lentil salad amuse. It was well seasoned with cumin and filled out with eggplant. I don't usually love eggplant, but I did enjoy this.
Our waitress was pleasant and spoke English. Bill ordered one of the specials, spaghetti with tuna mixed in a tomato sauce, pictured below.
It was a pretty big dish! He said it was tasty.
A moment of seriousness before it was time for me to try my dish...
I had a "Kartoffel trifft Fische", a baked potato covered in sour cream and served with smoked salmon and a simple green salad. I enjoyed this dish, although I wish I had asked them to go very easy on the sour cream. I don't like sour cream that much and even if I did, I wouldn't use as much as is pictured here. But the salad and smoked salmon were really enough to satisfy me anyway.
Lunch came to just over 40 euros. Because we hadn't yet entered the spa, we paid for it in cash. I always enjoy eating at the Mineraltherme. I wish other spas had restaurants as nice as theirs.
Then we got in line to pay basic admission and get our wristwatches, which allow you to purchase things without using cash in the spa and keep track of your time. At this writing, it's 12 euros per adult to visit the upstairs and part of the downstairs portions of the Mineraltherme. If you want to go into the Saunagarten, which is textile free, you have to pay another 6 euros. This is done by scanning your wristwatch at a turnstile. On your way out of the spa, you pay a machine for any refreshments or other extras you get while you're in the spa.
After we paid our admission, we went into the unisex locker room, which is full of small dressing rooms so you can "suit up" in private. The Mineraltherme underwent a large renovation last year and they made some improvements to the locker room and some of the other facilities. We spent the first hour or so enjoying the pools upstairs, which require the use of a bathing suit. It was somewhat busy when we first got there, but not too bad. But then, as time went on, the spa began to fill up. I started noticing some rather inconsiderate behavior, which I'll be bitching about in the following paragraphs.
One thing I don't really like about the Mineraltherme experience on weekends is that it gets very crowded. People bring their kids and act as if the spa is a Freibad. I don't really have so much of a problem with the kids up in the clothed area. I accept that parents like the spa and they're going to bring their children. Most of the children at the Mineraltherme have been well-behaved, although I did see a couple of them hogging the pool noodles and not being very careful about where they were swinging them. I didn't need a pool noodle myself; I pretty much float on my own. However, I did almost get beaned by one when one of the inattentive kids was horsing around. I don't find having to duck pool noodles a very relaxing experience, but I'm willing to accept that kids are welcome there. So be it.
I have more of a problem with people who bring their young children into the textile free area. Technically, youngsters under 18 are allowed down there if they are with an adult. Personally, I think it's a bad idea to bring children into that area. It's not because I'm uptight about nudity. On the contrary, I'm all for it among consenting adults. Consider this, though. In the textile free area, the adults are walking around naked or wearing a towel or a robe. You'll see all kinds of things that might need explaining or cause uncomfortable staring, even if you do your best to avert your eyes. For example, I saw one guy today with a very large metal ring hanging off of the end of his junk, Prince Albert style. I don't have kids myself, but I can just imagine explaining that one to a nine year old.
Also consider that people drink alcohol down there, just as they also do in the upstairs area. It seems to me that adults drinking booze while naked is not necessarily compatible with hanging around with school aged children. And... this is a big thing for me... the adults have paid an entrance fee so they can relax and unwind. That is what spas are for.
Where's Alice to set people straight when we need her?
I don't find it very relaxing when a kid is hogging the jets in the pool, screaming and yelling, running amok, or staring. I have less of a problem with kids watching couples practically fucking in the pool, which frequently happens at the Mineraltherme, than I do with them watching egregious violence on TV. On the other hand, I'm not sure it's something that they necessarily need to be seeing. In fact, I'm not sure it's something I need to be seeing, either. But whatever... when in Rome (or Germany), right?
I counted at least five grade school aged kids in the textile free area today. I also saw a few American youngsters who appeared to be high school aged. They were loudly making jokes about bringing dates to the spa. One of them was squirting water with his hands, like an oyster, and basically acting like he was at a naked pool party.
I know nudity is much more acceptable here in Germany than it is in the United States, but it's still kind of a shock to my American sensibilities when I see young kids hanging out in the nude area of a spa, where grown people are trying to relax. I think it's inconsiderate for people to bring their kids in there. It's kind of akin to people who bring young kids on luxury cruises that aren't equipped for kids. It's not really fair to the children or the other adults who have paid the price of admission. Naturally, a day at the spa costs a lot less than a week on SeaDream I, but the concept is still the same.
Anyway... I don't plan to write a letter of complaint or anything. It was just something I was thinking about today at the spa. I did leave there feeling more relaxed than I did when I came in and I'm sure I'll go back another time. I probably ought to show up in the mornings on weekdays, when kids are more likely to be in school, or maybe find a place that is strictly for adults. I just think the local Freibad is probably a better place for kids to be, rather than the spa. But that's just little ol' childfree me, sharing my opinion. Incidentally, I also hate the term "littles" for children, but it is what it is.