My First European Sauna

Germany's flag
Europe » Germany » Baden-Württemberg » Stuttgart
April 4th 2008
Published: April 4th 2008
Edit Blog Post

Last weekend I had some friends in to visit since I had the apartment all to myself. It’s been nice being able to take over the whole place for a couple of weeks, but I am looking forward to my new flatmate’s arrival. She is from France and speaks very good German, not much English, I believe this will be a good thing for my German!

My Couchsurfing friend Ulf came to 'surf' with me last Thur-Sat which was a highlight because not only do I not see him very often, but he was my first official Surfer! Finally, I had the chance to be a host, which was a lot of fun. The rest of the crew from my program came on Friday and Saturday and we made the most of the very small Karlsruhe Fruhlingsfest (we thought there would be a beer tent...but the one small beer stand had to do). I am looking forward to the much larger Fruhlingsfest in Stuttgart towards the end of the month. We visited some of the "hot spots" of Karlsruhe, made Tacos, and just enjoyed each others company.

Ulf had a couple of free passes to the Schwaben Quellenbad Sauna in Stuttgart, which he says is one of the top 5 saunas in Germany! I had done a little Sauna'ing' in Austria over Xmas so I figured I had overcome the major problem that you were not allowed to wear swimsuits in Europe in most Saunas for sanitary reasons. I had no problem over Xmas because I just wrapped my towel around myself and that was fine and dandy with me 😊 So I said, sure lets go for it.

I met Ulf in Stuttgart Hbf and we headed out to the sauna. It was a little bit south of town but it only took about 20 minutes on the S-Bahn. It was nice because it took us way up on a hill above the city and gave a beautiful view of the valley. We arrived and got these really neat wristbands that do all kinds of things. I walked into the dressing room and put it up to a little screen and it told me which number locker to go use. I changed into my towel and bathrobe and turned the knob on my locker and it electronically locked. Then I kind of freaked out because I couldn’t figure out how to re-open the locker, but ran back up to the screen and put the wrist band up to again and it said 'Locker 179 will open in 3 seconds' and sure enough it unlocked itself. So cool.

After I got over the fascination of the locker, I went in and took my required shower before heading into the main Sauna. Ulf met me there and gave me a quick tour of the whole Sauna. He explained to me that every 20 min in 3 different particular dry Saunas there would be a Pouring, where a staff member would come in and pour water or ice on the rocks that had particular scents and add-ins, then they would use a towel, move the hot air around appropriately and wave it at the participants in many different ways (hard to explain but very cool). So we checked out the 6 dry Saunas, 2 Wet Saunas, Indoor and Outdoor Pools, sunning deck, many different themed relaxation rooms, restaurant area, Jacuzzis, etc etc. I asked immediately about the pool, what people would wear in there, and Ulf looked at me and laughed, he said...nothing. I thought to myself, well I guess I just won’t do that.

30 seconds later I realized I was in real trouble as I looked around and more than half the people I passed were buck naked. I was a little in shock but thought that’s ok, I can handle that they want to walk around without their towel on, that’s their choice. After our quick tour, Ulf said there was a pouring he wanted to catch, so like the good inexperienced sauna goer that I was, I followed along. I took my robe off and walked into the Canadian Dry Sauna for the green tea pouring with my towel wrapped around me as planned. I figured out REAL fast that I was the ONLY person in the 20 people sitting there that was even slightly covered...I felt really awkward. I half uncovered myself in an attempt to look somewhat normal but it didn’t do much good, I got some 'Idiot American' looks.

By the second pouring I had given up as far as inside the sauna's went. I thought ok, thats fine, but afterwards I was super hot and wanted to take a quick shower, but realized they were all out in the open. So there went one more thing I 'wasn't' going to do. I was still really hot and Ulf suggested we go for a swim in the outdoor pool and that is exactly the point when I just said, forget it, who cares. I bared myself and hopped in the pool. The rest of the day I felt totally relaxed and much better about the whole situation as we were joined by two more couch surfers from Stuttgart and we checked out all the Saunas, did salt scrubs, honey scrubs, and even an oil dry sauna. It was really a fascinating day. I ate lunch with just a towel wrapped around myself which was definitely a new experience. But after the day I not only was soft skinned and relaxed, but really empowered.

I spent most of the day shocking my Couchsurfing friends with stories of conservative America and our traditions in the south. They said, what do you wear to the sauna and i said "Bathingsuits" and they said with shocked looks on their faces "but that is so unhygienic!" haha. I told them about Hippy Hollow in Austin and how a large party boat once tipped over because the whole of the participants were on one side staring out at the beach hoping to get a glance of these crazy Hippies that want to go to a nude beach! I also told them that this whole thing kind of ruined Skinny Dipping for me. And they go "what is skinny dipping". haha. Once I explained it to them, they were confused and said, “Well why is that so taboo?” 😊

I think I learned something from my experience at the Sauna. It taught me that maybe we are a little too conservative in the States; I mean there is an in-between. I’m not saying go running naked down the street, but really don’t be afraid to jump out of your shell for a day and make yourself uncomfortable, you will be surprised what you get out of it. I quite enjoyed myself and it really made me feel free, free of the stress of always trying to do the "correct" thing, free of stepping on egg shells when you really know what you want. I think I’ve learned there is a balance between being overly-assertive and not assertive enough, we just need to find that balance.

I realized I have met a lot of my goals for the year already and it made me feel like I have really accomplished some things I wanted out of this year. I am being more assertive with people, asking for what I want without overdoing it and being demanding. I have learned that its ok to do things alone, even if Id obviously rather be with friends. I am no longer afraid to get on a train by myself or talk to strangers and learn their life story. I can now go to a movie by myself, show up at a bar or meeting to meet people without needing someone with me. Obviously exercising common sense and safety measures, I no longer will let not having a travel partner ruin the idea of a good trip. I have gained a lot of confidence, learned to go with the flow a bit more and not plan so much of every day of my life without giving myself the option to really take advantage of a detour when it presents itself. Letting go and letting life take over leads to some fabulous things. I have actually mastered a second language to a level that I never thought was possible and have resumed my overly-talkative personality in German.

Overall I have learned that when you put just a little bit of trust in most people, you gain a lot in return. I think we spend so much of our life in the States being afraid of things, afraid to hurt someone’s feelings, afraid of consequences if you ask for what you want, afraid of "dropping the towel" and having other people see our little problem areas. I’ve learned that no one is perfect, and I think I like my little problem areas and personal discrepancies enough to show them off and not be scared. They are part of what makes me, me. :-)


4th April 2008

what a great entry paige! it sounds like it was a real eye-opener for you! hope you are having fun. luv ur cous. x
4th April 2008

Your blog entries are really always the most interesting to read. Big smile. After your visit in the Schwabenquellen you should consider a visit of the Friedrichsbad in Baden-Baden. With your new experiences you're now perfectly prepared for the Olympus of German bathing culture (actually it's a Roman-Irish bath). And it's only a short hop from Karlsruhe. Viele Grüße in die alte badische Hauptstadt.
5th April 2008

Naked Night at our apartment!
P, Does this mean that you will be ok with me walking around our apt. naked? Haha. Just checking. R
7th April 2008

Paige - I'm so proud of you - what a great experience! I remember after a month in the south of Spain I finally said "What the heck?!" and laid out -- sans top -- one day at the beach -- of course, in hindsight I should of used a lot more sunscreen - as that part of my body had never seen the light of day before! The next day my roomate mentioned my uh...tan the liking of a neopolitan ice cream bar - it kinda became my nickname towards the end of the trip, but hey, now I can say I did it!
15th April 2008

hee hee
nice. very nice.
21st September 2010

I went to a sauna with CS guests from different countries as well.
First they where shocked or scared, but afterwards where relaxed and happy about this new experience.

Tot: 0.239s; Tpl: 0.011s; cc: 14; qc: 61; dbt: 0.073s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.2mb