Life is always full of unexpected surprises and that’s what makes it interesting. There’s no point to think about what if’s in my situation. I’m in Germany for 4 more days, and just want to enjoy it as I can. I’m glad that I can think like that again, because the first 2 days I was here were very difficult for me, because I had been looking forward to going to Costa Rica for years and when I was denied it I felt so hopeless.
I’m very pleased under the circumstances how things resolved themselves. I had been worried about not being able to buy a new ticket online without much money in my bank account, and after talking to my mother she advised me to go directly to the airport and buy it there with cash. That was a great idea and is what I ended up doing.
Paul had some errands to run so I went by myself. I was at the train station eating a freshly made pretzel, waiting and this foreign looking man with a hat and backpack walked up to another woman and I and asked, “Do you speak English?” in the clearest North American English.
Turns out, Jerry is Canadian and was headed to the airport as well, so we kept each other company. I have a thing for all things Canadian, and I loved hearing him tell me about what he was doing in Europe, and he had funny ways to tell his stories. I had been feeling sick in the stomach before he came, being so nervous about going back to the airport, and he helped me laugh away my nerves….except for explaining about the Vancouver ‘Clamato’ juice. Oysters = yuck.
I studied German in high school but abandoned it for Spanish. Being here I’ve been able to remember and pick up a few things along the way. However it is a bit funny to have the the last name ‘Schmidt’ and have been born in Frankfurt, Germany and to be able to say in damn near perfect German, “I can’t speak German”. Its like someone from Green Bay saying, ‘yeah I don’t know where Green Bay is on the Wisconsin map’. So at the airport I got a few shameful looks and scowls when I handed over my passport and asked if they spoke English.
Not only are there the obvious linguistic differences I’ve encountered, but naturally cultural ones as well.
I think the most shocking one for me presented itself last night in a German Wellness Center. The whole Wellness Center idea was brilliant, for 10 Euros Paul and I got 3 hour access to a center with various pools of different sizes and temperatures and then sauna rooms. I spent all day yesterday looking forward to it! Finally some relaxation extreme style! I even bought a new swim suit for it, since I left my old one along with some undies etc… in Malaga accidentally.
Turns out I wouldn’t be needing my swimsuit for most of it.
So I guess when Paul warned me that people didn’t wear clothes in the sauna I was thinking of it more as an optional thing, and I ‘pictured’ naked people covered in towels all sitting around quiet and privately keeping to themselves.
Maybe my mind is too clean, I don’t know…but I certainly wasn’t mentally picturing EVERYONE required to be naked, and sitting around, walking around, swimming around, lounging around all naked. All naked. Butts, boobs and balls. All hanging free.
First reaction: Blush and giggle and avoid looking at people.
Second reaction: Without meaning to, I promise, I couldn’t look anyone in the eye…there were penis’ everywhere!
Third reaction: Focus on myself and using the small little towel to cover up every part of me.
Forth reaction: We get in the sauna, and still all covered up I realize parts of my body I didn’t know could sweat started to.
That was the first experience of the sauna. The first room was 140F. After 15 mins or so we were both so hot and had to leave. The customary tradition is then to go straight to an ‘ice water’ plunge. Paul goes first, I turn around so I don’t see him take his towel off and take a dip.
Then its my turn. I don’t want to. The plunge is small, only for one person and set aside, but not that far away is a bar, and a ‘lounge’ area where other naked people are sitting around, a unproportionatly high amount of men to women. I walk backwards to the plunge, still clinging to my little towel. Paul is watching me and I scream at him in English to turn around and not look at me, so he isn’t looking at me,…but now everyone else is. I quick take off the towel and step backwards into the freezing water, I can only take a few seconds and not thinking about the towel anymore just try to get out of it as soon as I can.
Everyone has seen my naked body at this point, but I’m still in favor of using a towel. We go outside then so Paul can smoke a cigarette, and that leads us to more sauna rooms and another heated outdoor pool and lounge area. At this point I still can’t get over all the skin. I guess it was like being in a nudist colony or something, which I wouldn’t be opposed to maybe trying- but I wasn’t expecting it that night, so I was still feeling a bit uncomfortable. But there wasn’t anyone ‘too fit’ or ‘too fat’ just a lot of ‘normal’ which was nice. As far as the men, after a while I got used to it and stopped looking at everyone, but I did get the chance to see some very very good looking men : ) and I think I caught some people checking me out too…
The two craziest coolest things that we did there was the aroma sauna a large sauna room set to 185F with dim lights. It was packed with people, and in that one I finally got fully naked, but covered my chest with my long hair and sat appropriately as to not show anything. When everyone- like 20 people- were settled in the room a woman came and poured scented apple-rhubarb water over the steaming rocks and whipped a towel around in the air to spread it. That was intense,…and as I started to sweat and feel light-headed after a few minutes the woman stopped, and I was able to leave (and wasn’t the only one, so I felt proud I made it through).
Then with my towel back on, I went to the bar and had a half-liter glass of Apple Wine and waited for the salt bath.
The salt bath took place in another sauna shower room, but not nearly as hot as the aroma sauna, it was a pleasant hot. With 15 other naked people we sat in the shower sauna and waited till the ‘salt man’ came and handed up big lumps of oiled body salt that everyone started to rub all over their own bodies. A few couples rubbed it on each other. It was a little erotic, but still too hot to actually be erotic.
My skin,mind, and body after the whole experience was brand new! I felt so good and relaxed and by the end of it I wasn’t blushing anymore! But it was definitely something I’ve never done or seen before. Proving Germany remains to be a country full of surprises and excitements.