The featured photo is of a pool I encountered in Miami, Florida some years ago. I took that photo from the balcony of our hotel room.
Since I didn’t manage to escape the house this weekend, thanks to COVID-19, I have decided to write another post about German culture. It stands to reason that I would write about nudity, because I’ve written about it a bunch of times in this blog… and I have noticed that my posts about nudity are among my most popular. There are obviously many people out there who are titillated by such content. 😉
I aim to please, so here’s a post about some recent news that my German friend made me aware of a few days ago. I already knew that many spas in Germany have nude areas, if they aren’t already entirely nude, like the Schwabenquellen in Stuttgart is. Well, as it turns out, progressive lawmakers in many German towns have now made it acceptable for women to be topless. According to the link, which is in German, but Chrome is your friend for a translation, Jacob Kammann, from the Volt Party in the North-Rhine Westphalian town of Siegen, proposed to the Siegen city council that women should be allowed to be bare chested at public pools.
Kammann came to this conclusion after an incident that occurred last year at a pool in a town called Göttingen. A non-binary person with female sex parts wanted to swim topless. However, when the person tried to do as males are allowed to do, they were not allowed. A male lifeguard kicked the person out of the pool, because their breasts were like a female’s breasts, and the lifeguard considered the person female. Females are forbidden from swimming topless at many German public pools.
The non-binary person complained, and Kammann, who leads the Volt Party in his area, considered their argument and decided it was time to challenge the long standing rules regarding female nudity. Kammann states that he wants to contribute to equality by making this step, allowing people with female breasts to be topless if they wish to be. The rule remains that the primary sexual characteristics must remain covered, but female breasts are not considered as such.
Allowing women to be topless at the pool also helps desexualize breasts, which are really supposed to be for feeding babies. I have seen many German mothers happily bare their breasts in public for the purpose of feeding their babies. That makes sense to me, because who wants to eat in a public restroom, or with a blanket over their head? Breasts should not be taboo. They are essential to life itself.
It may take some time for the females and non-binary people of Göttingen to feel comfortable enough to swim topless, but at least it’s allowed now. I don’t wear bikinis myself, so this wouldn’t apply to me. But I have no issues whatsoever, going to a nude spa and enjoying being in my birthday suit. I find it very liberating. Hopefully, the topless enthusiasts will enjoy their new freedom… and they won’t forget to wear plenty of sunscreen on that newly bared part of their anatomies. Wouldn’t want them to get skin cancer or a sunburn!
I don’t have much to write about last night. It was pretty much a repeat of Friday night, only with beer instead of cocktails, although the bar was busier and they played reggae/UB40 instead of German pop and euro trance music. Most of the same staffers were there. Once again, I had a great time, because I’ve missed going out and seeing things. It was just great to be in a pretty area where I could get photos of nature and good food.
I did get a few photos of last night’s fun. But it was kind of low key…
After another good night’s rest, we got up, had breakfast, and checked out before 9:00am. I was eager to get home and do some writing, guitar practice, and sing a few songs. Bill has gone to pick up Arran from the Birkenhof. I think we could be persuaded to take another trip, possibly very soon!
All told, I think Bill spent under 700 euros for the nights in the hotel, the Therme access, two breakfasts, two dinners, and the bar… not bad at all! I would highly recommend Vital Hotel and the Rhein-Taunus Therme for a quick getaway. I think it would be a lot of fun for a “girls” trip, but it’s also good for those who need a hotel near Frankfurt Airport or those who like water fun. I don’t know that I’d necessarily call it a romantic spot, since the Therme did have a number of kids around. But… I particularly enjoyed it right now, since there weren’t nearly as many people as I’ve come to expect at the spas in Germany. And non nudists will like that it doesn’t seem to have a nude bathing area, like the Mineraltherme, Schwabenquellen, Palais Thermal, and Friedrichsbad all have. I have been to all of those spas, and you will find my write ups of them in this blog. Personally, I like the nude spas, but I know not everyone is comfortable. It appears that those who don’t like nudity will appreciate Rhein-Main Therme, although I didn’t check the saunas. You may have to be naked for those.
Anyway… I hope y’all enjoyed this brief series. I hope I can write more soon. I have missed traveling and dining out so much!
Yesterday morning, we had breakfast and checked out of the Waldhotel. For three nights with breakfast and one bar bill that we charged to the room, we spent just under 1100 euros. That was actually less than I was expecting to spend. Granted, we could have easily spent a lot less money in a cheaper room at a cheaper hotel. In fact, I was telling Bill that maybe it would have been better if we had booked the Hilton Garden Inn by the arena. It would have spared us the traffic nightmare. However, I have a genuine fondness for the Waldhotel. It has all we need; it’s convenient; and it’s in a really pleasant part of Stuttgart. I’m glad we tried the junior suite, too. I don’t know if we need to book it again– maybe we will. I’d go back just to hang out with the Italian barkeep.
Goodbye, lovely Waldhotel… We don’t have as many wooded areas up here in Wiesbaden.
We needed to find something to do for a few hours, since Max doesn’t allow pickups at Dog on Holiday until after 2:30pm. I suggested the Schwabenquellen, which is one of Stuttgart’s mineral baths/spas. The Schwabenquellen is a textile free facility. Unlike the Mineraltherme in Böblingen, on most days, swimsuits aren’t allowed anywhere in the whole “park”. It’s only on certain dedicated days that one can wear suits at the Schwabenquellen.
To be honest, although I’m totally into the nude spa scene, I like the Mineraltherme better than the Schwabenquellen, especially since they renovated it a couple of years ago. For one thing, the Mineraltherme has a great restaurant that offers healthy dishes rather than burgers and pizzas. For another thing, there are more pools and more things to do at the Mineraltherme. It’s also significantly cheaper. However, the Schwabenquellen was more convenient to our location and the Mineraltherme is closed for cleaning right now.
Before yesterday, I had been to the Schwabenquellen only once before. It was back in 2017, and I remember very clearly that I had to figure out how to use the lockers. It took about twenty minutes to realize that the lockers are assigned by a computer system. You don’t just pick one yourself, like you do at the Mineraltherme. While I was getting undressed, a young German woman asked me in German if I understood how the lockers operated. I asked her if she spoke English. Of course she did. I told her how the system worked. Then, when we went to shower, she tried to use her “watch” to turn it on. She laughed and said, “I promise, I’m not stupid” when I told her all she had to do was push the button. I was just glad to be helpful to someone for once.
Naturally, because it’s a nude spa, I didn’t take any pictures. The Schwabenquellen, although a little cheesy and dated, is kind of nice. I like the big pool in the middle of the facility, even though it’s cold. Actually, I thought most of the hot tubs were a little cool for my liking, as were the saunas. The complex looks like it could use some refurbishing, especially in the locker rooms. I noticed some of the showers looked like they needed sprucing up. We did manage to relax during our few hours there. It was a fine way to kill time before getting back on the road to Wiesbaden. I also noticed that unlike last time we visited, most everything was open rather than closed for repairs.
The one place I think the Schwabenquellen should start refurbishing is its restaurant. Both times we’ve eaten there, I’ve been less than impressed with the food. But, I don’t think the Schwabenquellen is like the Mineraltherme, which appears to focus on health rather than simple relaxation and recreation. They have a lot of themed saunas, some of which included music. The Austrian sauna had some funny hunting themed decorations on the walls and Austrian “fest” music. The Tibetan sauna was decorated in an Asian style and had very calm music. I liked the different themes, but they seemed to be more for entertainment than therapeutic value.
At about 2:30, we pulled up to Max’s to get Zane and Arran. They were outside in the yard and Zane heard me say something. He started bugling, which got Arran going. When they brought the boys in, Zane, in particular, was struggling to get to us. He and Arran clearly had a great weekend, but like us, they were ready to go home. As always, we were so grateful that Max and Christine took such great care of them for us. I wish we could transplant them in Wiesbaden. The dogs will be trying out a new “hotel” at the end of the month, when we go to Cologne to see The Eagles. Hopefully, that place will work out just as well.
Despite our SNAFUs in Stuttgart traffic and being too old for the Fest, I think we had a good weekend in Stuttgart. I really had forgotten about how awful the traffic is, although I did notice A8 was a lot nicer yesterday. I think they’re working on A81 now, which was the road that most directly affected us during both of our Stuttgart stints. Hopefully, the upgrades will make commuting easier for everyone, once they’re finished.
Will we be back in November for dental cleanings? Maybe… or we may be back sooner for other reasons. In any case, Stuttgart really does feel like home– or, at least my German home. It was nice to be back for a few days. And it’s also nice to be back in Wiesbaden.
I know… I know… this naked spa stuff is starting to become a habit. I wasn’t actually planning to visit the Schwabenquellen this weekend. We decided to go kind of by default. I’m glad we went because we had a great time and I’m feeling a whole lot better. That’s right. We hit the spa today for medicinal purposes.
I woke up early this morning needing to pee. As I got up, somehow I twisted my neck and gave myself a whopper of a crick. When I was fully awake later this morning, I realized that I couldn’t turn my head to the left without a lot of pain. Seriously, folks. I was really hurting. I still have some pain after our naked afternoon, but it’s not as bad as it was earlier today. I have my generous, good sport of a husband and the spa to thank for that.
I suggested the Schwabenquellen, knowing that Bill probably wouldn’t be too excited about it. Although he always ends up enjoying the spas whenever we go, he’s very self-conscious about being seen in a bathing suit. Well, the bathing suit wasn’t a problem today, since the Schwabenquellen is almost always textile free. By that, I mean you usually have to be without a bathing suit in the saunas, the steam baths, and the pools. You are, however, highly encouraged to wear a robe and/or a big towel. I bought Bill a new robe last week for just that purpose and we brought two towels each, one to sit on and one to dry off with. We ended up only using one each. I also brought “shower shoes”, but didn’t end up using them much.
The Schwabenquellen is located in the SI Centrum complex, very close to Kelley Barracks. There’s a huge parking garage there and, if you use the spa, you can get your parking ticket validated so parking is cheaper. Today, we spent 2,50 euros.
Naturally, I didn’t manage to get many pictures. This is one I got in the garage as we were about to climb the stairwell to the spa.
We decided to get the all day pass, since it was priced only a little bit more than the two hour pass. We weren’t sure how long we were going to be there today, since I knew there were a lot of rooms, themed saunas, and steambaths available, as well as two large pools. In retrospect, we were smart to get the all day pass the first time, even though we don’t usually stay longer than a couple of hours. The reason we were smart was because there is a bit of a learning curve to figuring out how things work at the Schwabenquellen. For example, it took both Bill and me several minutes to figure out how to get the lockers to work. We also had a mishap when we had lunch. There will be more on that in the coming paragraphs, because I intend to give my readers the lowdown on what to do at the Schwabenquellen.
After we paid the entrance fee, the lady behind the counter gave us the little plastic watches I’ve come to expect at Germany’s best spas. The “watch” doesn’t tell time; it provides you with a way to make purchases without using cash and it also gets you use of a locker. There are some small lockers available in the lobby that run on coins, but if you have more than a wallet and a phone, you’re probably going to want a bigger one. Unlike the Mineraltherme, the Schwabenquellen separates its locker rooms by sex. There are also no individual changing rooms at the Schwabenquellen like there are at the Mineraltherme.
How to use the lockers
In the interest of helping out my fellow man, I’m going to explain how to use the lockers at the Schwabenquellen. They, too, are different than what Bill and I have encountered at the Mineraltherme and the Palais Thermal in Bad Wildbad.
Step 1: Wave your watch in front of one of the monitors in the locker room.
Step 2: Wait for the monitor to tell you which locker is yours.
Step 3: Find your locker.
Step 4: There’s a little green light that should flash on. When it does, put your stuff in the locker, close the door, and turn the knob counter clockwise. That should lock it. You’ll know it’s locked if the dial stays to the left instead of coming back in a horizontal line.
It took us awhile to figure out this process and we did not see any signs in English explaining it, although there are English instructions on the monitors. If I had known to pay attention to the monitors, I’m sure I would have figured it out much faster. I don’t think I even noticed them until several frustrating moments had passed with me trying to lock up my stuff.
Now, you have your locker and you put everything away. Be sure to remember which number you have, although when you come back into the locker room, you’ll need to swipe your watch again. The monitor will remind you which one is yours as it unlocks the locker for you. Also, be sure to stow your cell phone. Phones and/or cameras are not allowed in the spa for obvious reasons.
Once you’ve stowed your clothes in your locker, make sure you’re naked, unless you happen to be visiting at a time when swimsuits are allowed. The first Saturday of every month is when patrons can wear suits. Also, every Tuesday after 6:00pm, patrons have a choice of whether or not to go naked. There are also designated ladies days on the first Wednesdays of March, June, September, and December. That means ladies only, but I don’t think it means you can wear your bathing suit. For more information, click here.
You can now simply walk out of the locker room naked if you wish, or you can cover up in a towel or a robe. Put any other stuff like extra towels and robes in one of the many cubbies scattered throughout the facility. It may be strange being naked in a spa. Some people may find it embarrassing. For some reason, I’ve taken to nudity like a native. Next thing you know, I’ll be sporting Jack Wolfskin activewear. Then I’ll really pass for a local, at least until I open my mouth.
Careful with the first stop…
The first thing you will come across is a very large pool with two waterfalls. It’s a very deep, inviting, beautiful pool. You can see it pictured on the Schwabenquellen’s Web site. Allow me to warn you that that particular pool is cold. If you’re a guy and you go striding in, thinking it’s going to be warm, it’s likely you will experience major shrinkage. However, the water is refreshing and you should get used to it quickly.
There’s another pool that is warm and full of salt water. If you want to, you can access that pool inside and walk outside in the warm water. Or you can access it outside. The salt pool is really nice, though both have jets on them.
Bill and I aren’t much into saunas, but we did try the Canadian sauna next to the salt pool. It’s 90 degrees Celsius and nice, dry heat. I liked that sauna because it’s very large and there’s plenty of room. As a matter of fact, the spa wasn’t busy today and there was plenty of room throughout the complex. I found it a very nice change from the Mineraltherme.
We also tried the amethyst steam room, which was very hot and intense. I couldn’t take more than a couple of minutes in there.
How to order food and drinks.
This was another area where Bill and I had a slight problem. The spa has a bar out by the “beach”, which is a sandy area with loungers where you can catch some rays. The bar sells drinks only. There’s also the Mandala Bar, which overlooks the cold pool with the waterfalls. The Mandala Bar offers a buffet as well as a small menu with burgers, salads, pizzas, paninis, rumpsteak, salmon, turkey, and baked potatoes, as well as some snacks. You can also purchase cocktails there. If you order food that has to be prepared (as opposed to taken from the buffet), you will get a chit and a beeper that will go off when your food is ready. Don’t forget, as Bill did, to give the chit to the cook. If you don’t, you will be waiting a long time for food that never gets made.
As for food… I think this is one area where the Schwabenquellen could improve. The Mineraltherme in Boeblingen has a nice restaurant with really interesting choices that are pretty healthy. The Schwabenquellen’s offerings are a lot more pedestrian, although we enjoyed what we had. Bill had a ham and cheese panini and I had a Hawaiian pizza, which was way too big for me to finish. Food and drink prices are pretty standard. It’s not like the tourist traps of the United States where they take advantage of a captive audience. I noticed none of the food was priced over 15 euros.
And yes, you ARE expected to wear a robe or a big towel when you’re dining at the Mandala Bar. In fact, you need to sit on a towel or wear a robe whenever you are not in the water. There are also rest areas where you are expected to wear dry swimwear or otherwise be clothed.
As Bill and I were enjoying our late lunch, I commented that the spa reminded me of an adult oriented Rainforest Cafe. I don’t know how long the spa has existed, but to me, it has sort of a late 80s vibe. The Mineraltherme appears to be a lot more modern, although it’s also a lot more inclusive. One thing I did notice today was that there were no children around and that was a good thing, especially since everyone was naked.
I noticed that a lot of the signage, though not all, was translated into English. That was very helpful, although we could have used English instructions for the lockers. I also noticed that they were playing horrid pan flute music in the bar area. Think Zamfir… It certainly added to the late 80s early 90s vibe.
They were playing “The Rose” today… not sure if it was Zamfir, but it sounded like this.
Staff was very friendly and I thought the facility was pretty clean, if not a little dated looking. I didn’t get to try everything available, but I enjoyed today enough that I’d happily go back for another visit, especially since I now know how to use the lockers. We spent a little over three hours at the spa and might have stayed longer, except we knew our dogs were at home waiting to be fed. I also noticed that though my neck isn’t totally back to normal, it does feel a lot better after some time in the water and the sauna.
If I keep going to textile free spas, pretty soon, people will be calling me Bubbles…
As we exited the spa, we handed our watches to the attendant and Bill paid for the food and drinks. Then she gave us tickets, which we used to get through the turnstile and back into the land of the clothed. Of the three spas I’ve tried so far, I think I might like Schwabenquellen the best. Yes, it’s a little cheesy and slightly more expensive than Mineraltherme is. And yes, I like the food at the Mineraltherme better and the Mineraltherme offers a choice as to whether or not you have to disrobe. But today, at least, it was less crowded than it has been at the Mineraltherme the last few times I’ve been. There also seems to be more to do at the Schwabenquellen. I like all the different saunas, steam rooms, and treatments you can get at the Schwabenquellen. And the absence of kids, much as I like them, is definitely a plus if you really want to relax.
We really could have spent the whole day doing stuff at the Schwabenquellen. Next time we get a day pass, we’ll have to spend more time enjoying all of the facilities. I would definitely recommend the Schwabenquellen for a fun and interesting date night. Just keep an open mind and avert your eyes. Above all, relax, enjoy yourself, and remember that no one is looking at your junk.
I took a shot of Bill as we exited, just to prove he was there… All told, we spent roughly 100 euros today, including the two day passes, lunch for two, four beers, and parking. You can also rent towels and robes and purchase shower shoes if you find yourself unprepared.
Children under age 6 are not allowed in the Schwabenquellen. As for kids over age 6, here is the policy according to their official Web site.
Personally, I don’t think this spa is a good place to bring children, whether or not they are allowed.