Yesterday A had a day off, so once the Kinder were all safely in school and kindergarten we had a very precious three hours to ourselves - so it was off to the local Kurhaus for a mornings rest and relaxation.
The concept of a Kurhaus is not something we really have in England - you can loosely translate the term as 'Health Resort' or spa, but that doesn't really work. Yes, you can have a 'Kur' hotel - and even be prescribed a residential Kur by your doctor (I'm working on that one as a week's stay at a Spa type place would be just what the doctor ordered.....but I'm sure some of the treatments required might be a bit more hardcore than I'd want).
You could also think of a Kurhaus in terms of a thermal baths - and that's almost what we went to yesterday. However, there was just the one salt pool - lovely and warm and outside in the grey - but we did have the benefit of a 'Saunalandschaft' a Sauna Landscape. Yup - three hours at the sauna it was utter bliss (apart from the tutting because we were talking too much and ruining the calming atmosphere.....).
In Essen, at the Gruga Park, there is a Kurhaus which has a series of increasingly hot saunas - each with a different purpose - light therapy, special 'aufguss' which are aromatherapy based, salt crystals - for you to enjoy at your leisure. This is combined with an outdoor saltwater pool and indoor swimming pool and various indoor and outdoor resting areas - all very civilised.
Now of course, this being a German sauna you are required to leave your clothes at the door - that's right - completely naked in the sauna itself, but of course with a giant towel to sit and lie on (heaven forbid you should let the wood get sweaty...). Out in the other areas, you do of course need footwear at the very least and that's as far as most of the visitors went yesterday. There's something quite liberating about everyone bimbling about in their birthday suits - but I know it's not something for everyone.
We're (the Boden Breakfast Club) trying to arrange a girls' spa day but it's proving quite tricky to find the right establishment to fit all out foibles - I don't think yesterdays venue would suit us - for the primary reason that you can't gossip and giggle all day which would be our main purpose - and I don't think we're all ready to share our bumps and lumps just yet. Nudity in front of total strangers is actually quite easy - with all your girlfriends - another matter entirely!!