The Spreewald

Travel time: September 2001  |  by Anne Pofcher

How to Learn to Sauna - German Style

Anyway, I needed a change of scenery. I may not have known much, but I did know that I paid to use the sauna for the entire day. I went through a doorway, and it's not that I didn't notice that some, if not all of the people walking around were naked. I thought since I don't really know what I'm doing I'll just sit in the sauna.

I found out that there is no such thing as just sitting in a sauna. All of a sudden, people started pointing at me. One woman was saying something in an agitated voice and though it sounded to me like idoipdok! jlfdklkjd! I knew it was serious and she meant it. Immediately a tall, dark, but more mean looking than handsome man walked into the sauna and was very angry with me. It was a very strange experience to be yelled at by a threatening looking stark naked man. I tried to be a lady and either focus my gaze on the tatoos he wore on his arms, or into his angry eyes. No fig leaves were on him as he gave me a word thrashing My brain tried to translate it. Where was a dictionary when you need one? I think he was the boss, but no matter who he was he didn't have a diplomatic manner. What I did was obviously a very bad thing.

I began to understand what he was talking about, but just barely, if you pardon the pun. I'm not allowed to wear a bathing suit in this part of the complex. I went out to the desk area and found an employee. With the best German I could muster I told her I was new here, and a foreigner, and to please explain what I was supposed to do.

She got me outfitted with towels and a robe. I learned what "Textil Frei" meant. No clothes. She showed me the lockers where I was supposed to leave my bathing suit.

Finally I was ready to try again. I found an empty lounge chair and tried to relax.

This place was simply incredible. There were clear quartz, rose quartz, and amethyst crystals half embedded in the walls and in the ceiling. There was a bubbling hot tub encrusted within a bed of crystals. I guess you get the idea. That's why it is called the Kristallbad.

There were at least three saunas near my chair. One was called the Emerald Sauna. My favorite was called the Rose Quartz Sauna, and it even had a rose scent.

It was in one of these saunas that I learned what the word "Aufguss," meant. A Kristallbad employee would ring a bell and announce loudly, "Spezial Aufguss".

All those who wished to partake of the Spezial Aufguss entered the sauna, and sat down. Within a few minutes an employee came in, poured a scented liquid on the coals which made the sauna room "hot as hell."

I didn't know how this person could stand in there and make jokes with the Aufguss participants. To me the air felt scalding. I looked around to see if anyone was visibly pained, but they seemed like they were thriving. I guess I'm not an Aufguss person, but I'm glad I tried it. Actually I tried it twice to make sure. The second time I knew I really hated it.

The Kristallbad is a banquet of saunas.

Outside was the way to lots more. I went around to each one, trying the hay sauna, the lemon sauna, the eucalyptus sauna (which feels like one is sitting in a coughdrop), and a Finnish sauna scattered with birch leaves.

There was more frontier to explore: The Solebad. Initially I had no idea what a Solebad was, but can tell you it is a heated pool filled with saltly mineral water. The saunas are pain with gain, but a Solebad is paradise. It was lovely to swim around (no bathing suits allowed of course)and you could even make your way outside and watch the steam rise up around you. I felt a little jealous as I watched the young couples kissing. This has to be the most romantic place I've ever been. Yet it wasn't just for the young and hormonal. There were also parents with their children and elderly patrons taking the cure.

It just gets better and better. To take a break from swimming one can go to the bar and restaurant located on the other side of the room. You can order beer and wine, as well as carnivore or vegetarian meals. All you had to do was wrap a towel around yourself and sit at a table or on a bar stool.

I think the admission fee for the entire day was about fifteen American dollars. I love the German way of life!

© Anne Pofcher, 2003
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The trip
My 2001 trip to Germany, in particular the protected biosphere called the Spreewald. This trip also included Naumberg an der Saale and Eisleben, particularly my overnight at the newly rebuilt Kloster Helfta.
Start of journey: Sep 05, 2001
Duration: 15 days
End of journey: Sep 19, 2001
Travelled countries: Germany
The Author
Anne Pofcher is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 21 years.