Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How to “Therme” with bathing suits near K-town

There are plenty of “textile free” spas in Germany, but for those of us who prefer to wear bathing suits, here are some choices:
The Saarland-Therme is just about an hour west of the Kaiserslautern area, and the entire main floor of the large building is bathing-suit mandatory. We enjoyed the indoor pool, encircled by mesh reclining chairs, as well as the surrounding hot tubs and specialty pools (different mineral properties). There are indoor stairs descending to the outdoor pool, which is also fun. We were intrigued by the circular area where water pushes people along so you are walking quite quickly through the water. The restaurant on the upper level welcomes guests wearing bathrobes or large towels over their bathing suits, and the food is good. 2 hours cost 14.50 Euro, and 4 hours are 19.50 Euro. Bring your own towel, bathrobe, and flip flops, or rent them. We enjoyed ourselves and will definitely return. Of course, no photos of these pools! So here are some photos of our recent trip to Switzerland.

Badewelt in Sinsheim is just over an hour east of K-town. We went there after going to Ikea in Mannheim, and had a different but also positive experience. Changing rooms in the Saarland therme (above) are separated by gender (or you can elect a co-ed changing room there). At Badewelt, the locker room is mixed gender, but there are locking stalls for changing, and the showers/toilets are separate. The massive pool area has dozens of live palm trees, and there are several hot tubs, specialty pools, and a snack bar area. The snack bar calls itself a restaurant because they do serve hot meals such as pasta, but it’s self serve, whereas in Saarland there were waitstaff. The vinyl covered, padded reclining chairs were packed close together, and the day we went was a party atmosphere compared to the quieter Saarland place. A swim up bar is near the revolving door to the outside pool. Bathing suits are required in the large palm area, and the sauna area (separate fee) is textile-free. The water at Badewelt dried out our skin a bit more than Saarland, but it was fun. Fees for 1.5 hours are 14 Euro, and 3 hours are 17 Euro. We arrived just as a sporting event was ending at the arena next door, so I imagine that traffic can be bad depending on arena activities. We’ll check on that next time.

The third place to describe is in Baden-Baden, about one and three-quarters hours east of K-town. We went there on the way back from Switzerland, but we both preferred the first two thermes described above.  The Caracalla Therme in Baden-Baden has the same set-up, with the main level of pools with bathing suits, and a separate upstairs “textile free” sauna area. There were no separate mineral pools here like at the other 2 places. The snack area was counter-service, with ice creams, salads, and pasta. The changing area was similar to Badewelt (co-ed with locking stalls but gender separate showers/toilets). A three-hour visit is 19 Euro per person. There was not much shade around the outdoor pool, so bring sunscreen. Note that there are other thermes in Baden-Baden, at least one of which is entirely textile free. There is a fee for parking in a garage, unlike the other 2 thermes, due to lack of on-street parking/no parking lot in Baden-Baden.

Do you know of any bathing-suit friendly thermal spas in Europe to recommend?

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