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Bit By Bit Spending some months in Europe. Let's see how it goes... Check ya later, Barry.

Mit Familia

USA | Sunday, 21 March 2010 | Views [473]

Our return to Baden-Baden was easy and relaxed.  We arrived at the train station and hunkered down on the internet in order to figure things out about the bathhouse we intended to visit.  We put our belongings in a locker and took off.

Baden-Baden, when correctly interpreted, means Bath-Bath.  It is famous for it's bathhouses and location on the outskirts of the Black Forest.  Friedrichsbad is a Roman-Irish bathhouse from the 1800s, with tall ceilings, a Beauty and the Beast staircase, and the smell of soap and warmth.  It houses the only remaining steam sauna that is fed from the geothermics in the heart of the earth (which was probably the best part, in all honesty).  So, yeah, of course we were nervous!  I mean, a bathhouse means bathing means no clothes, and who were we kidding: we come from America and people don't sunbathe naked on the grass in parks like they do in Germany.  Americans care a lot if someone catches a glimpse of the unshaven leg, the pasty-white flesh.  But, we told ourselves, we're going for a cultural experience.  We denied the fact that maybe we were going overboard, that it was, perhaps, cultural overkill.  We had heard first hand accounts, true and living testaments of people who had been there, sworn to its amazing powers, and come out better human beings, if only cleaner.  For everyone's sake, we will not go into detail (who wants details on this kind of thing?  Although if you do, feel free to ask...).  If you would like to know the layout of the place, as the idea is to go from station to station, there being seventeen including two separate dry saunas, room temperature pools, showers, and all that good stuff, Google Friedrichsbad bathhouse in Baden-Baden, Germany as we have mailed home our pamphlet and cannot get on line to get the link for you ourselves.  We will say it was well worth the experience, and actually once the clothes were discarded it was like they had never been there in the first place.  We started out afraid to leave our lockers, because did people did really do this?  I mean, if we walked through the door in our birthday suits, would we be plunging into an environment of modest and covered individuals, and would silence reign and would they stare at us with mouths agape like who are these people and what on earth are they doing?  But all was well.  There are days when the men and women can intermingle, but we drew the line there and went when the chambers were separated.  It was not crowded, and there was no oogling.  We were definitely the youngest inhabitants at the time.  And, if we were really put on the spot, we admit we would definitely go back.  Thinking that perhaps it would be very cool to have bathouses in America, the idea quickly faded.  Perhaps it was so easy because we knew that we were only parallel to the other bathers, not speaking their language, barely dipping into their lives before we faded into the next.  Don't know if it would be so easy if visiting with fellow soccer moms, grocery store clerks, and little leage coaches.  Let's let the Romans have their 'when in their Romes', and just say and do when and where appropriate.

If anyone happens to know a Russian, or a German, it goes without saying that they are powerful and intense people.  While Michael and Rebecca were sleepy and wafting the warmth of geothermics to the winter air, riding a train to meet up with the first of Rebecca's foreign family, it was a blessed and necessary thing they had been so pampered and relaxed mere hours before.  We were nervous and we were tired, but excited to.  These were Rebecca's grandfather's siblings, him being the only one to have left for America.   Before the war they had moved from Russia to Germany, and were sent back to Russia at the start of it.  Over the past twenty years they made it back to Germany.  This going to say that while they live in Germany and speak it fluently, they are 100% Russian.  They speak Russian to each other, and German to us, and they shout at each other and push each other around and laugh and make toasts of vodka to health until their own is in jeopardy.

We had a wonderful time with them for five days.   We were celebrities.  Pushed and shoved, pulled into submission, hollared at from all sides, force fed for seven hours at a stretch, showered upon with gifts, and demanded to sing, to dance!  The days were a whirlwind.  Rebecca discovered she could understand much better than she thought she could, and with some knowing miniscule English we were all able to communicate quite joyfully.  However, the strain on the brain, all of that concentrating, all of that internal calculating, took us to bed exhausted every night. 

We will spare the details, as they are purely family related and will take a while to actually record, and we want to become current with the blog again.  However, we might decide to post it later.  The important thing to know is that we went back and forth between family for five days, fed until the point of collapse, and every moment up until we locked the door behind us for the evening shower was chaperoned.  It was a blessed time, and as they said, America to Germany is too far for family, one day (per each clan) too short.

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