No I’m not talking about the time I accidentally sat on one of the jets in the Jacuzzi.
I speak of unique, sometimes unsettling, and frankly bizarre experiences in public baths, or swim-spots the world over.
What’s the strangest time you’ve had in the bath? The time you got your toe stuck in the tap? When you accidentally dropped a whole bottle of bubble-bath in and didn’t realize til the whole room was awash in soapy bubbles? When you were six and thought your rubber duck was talking to you?
But did you ever try anything like this? Let’s start close to home and move outwards:
Open-air Lidos – Once a staple of the British summertime, the outdoor lido (from the Italian for beach don’cha’know) fell dramatically out of favor as foreign holidays became less expensive and the popularity rose of indoor water-parks where temperature was controlled. But some still survive, notably the Saltdean lido in East Sussex with its art-deco features, and they have a hardcore of devoted fans. Visit on a nice day to be transported back in time.
Turkish Baths – Turkish-style bathing, which is a series of increasingly-hot rooms followed by an intense blast of cold water and then relaxation, became very trendy in Britain during the nineteenth century. They’ve now all but died out, although some remain scattered around the country, and will often feature very beautiful interior design for you to contemplate as you sit there sweating the dirt from your pores.
Cave Bathing in Hungary – The only one of its kind in Europe, the underground cave system of Miskolc-Tapolca has been providing visitors with therapeutic healing from the thermal waters which run through it, since the sixteenth century. An interesting bath, unless you suffer from agoraphobia of course.
Swiss Beer Baths – Sounding more like an episode of the Simpsons than a spa treatment, this involves the bather being sprayed down with low-alcohol beers made of premium ingredients. Staying overnight at the spa will see a menu featuring prime beef, the cows having themselves been regular recipients of the beer jets, which should make for a slightly unusual taste.
Doctor Fish – You may remember this became a huge craze in England in 2011/12. Placing one’s feet in tanks full of little Garra rufa fish, you struggle to relax while the hungry little blighters nibble off the dead skin on your extremities. If this sounds a little too similar to paddling in a piranha-infested river then don’t worry, due to health concerns many spas no longer offer the treatment.
The Dead Sea – Funnily enough it’s not named because of the way bathers seem to float in it, but because the natural high-salinity of the waters make it impossible for life to flourish. There are many health-properties supposedly emanating from the Dead Sea, particularly for the skin and bones.
Rotoruan Hot Springs – New Zealand is a volcanic country, and nowhere is this more evident than Rotorua on the North Island. Here geothermal energy has cast above ground so much mineral-laden waters that this is pretty much a spa town. Some of the best spa bathing this side of the world is found here, but there is one slight downside. Accompanying the waters is the release of hydrogen-sulphide gas, giving the whole area a notoriously pungent “rotten-eggs” smell.
Swimming with dolphins – This is truly one of the more magical experiences to try if you ever get the chance, and available now off most the coast on most continents. Try a tour through a company such as Trek America to South or Central America and you could be swimming among a pod of these amazing creatures.
Rob is a massive fan of Turkish baths and can’t wait to get back to Bodrum.