Sorry about my posting lapse- We were without internet for a week. Things will be more back to normal now. I want to talk about getting naked in Germany.
Germans have a long and glorious tradition of public nudity. Even though their once thriving naturist community is now shrinking somewhat, there are still plenty of opportunities to show off yer goods. In the Englischer Garten, (Munich's answer to Central Park) there is a nude sunbathing area. From a distance you can see middle aged men standing around with their legs spread and their hands on their hips, talking to other men doing the same. You could also see it up close...if you were brave.
So while we were in Baden-Baden, a historic playground of the rich and famous, it only seemed fitting to take part in one of their most luxurious attractions, that happened to involve nudity.
Fredrichsbad, the thermal bath house was mere steps away from our wonderful hotel's door. Since 1877, this place has been a temple to relaxation and health. You can even get a prescription to go to the baths from your doctor in Germany, for free! Also, the dress code for this experience is totally nude.
Before we went into the baths, I was very nervous! I do have a tendency to have not the greatest body image, so the prospect of just wandering around and flaunting it seemed kind of, well, crazy. I also looked back to the scenes of Munich's park. Was it just going to be me and Paul with a bunch of wide-stanced hairy business men?
But as you enter this place you are almost transported into another plane of existence. This isn't just getting naked in public, this is like getting naked in a mansion!
As we were getting naked in the locker room, a staff person approached us and started talking quicly in fairly advanced German. It was...strange. Being naked with this prim and proper staff person, in her all white spa uniform - shoes and socks and all, explaining to us how to use the lockers. She was so totally non-plussed. But I imagine working there, seeing naked people all day long every day, you kind of lose that veneer of sensitivity about approaching somebody with no clothes on.
It helped with the anxiety of the situation that it wasn't too busy that day - I think we saw a total of about 8 other people the whole time. But even still, once you got used to the prospect that you were naked, they were naked, and it was normal, you almost forgot about it. It was relaxing, and liberating!
It's hard to explain, but it just felt natural and fun to be able to just walk around and swim and be naked and for nobody to think anything of it. And also to see the whole of other people's naked bodies, makes one's little imperfections seem like the most natural thing in the world.
Another nice things about this place is that all the water is natural mineral water, and the steam rooms are thermal, powered by the earth. It was fun to be able to open my eyes under water, and not have to smell chlorine everywhere. You feel so clean when you leave here, especially if your get the soapy scrub brush massage!
I really did enjoy it - to the point that I've been looking up clothing-optional places across the country. Maybe for our next vacation? I wouldn't be opposed! Getting naked is pretty fun!