01 March, 2009

Frankfurt (or, when in Rome)

Now this is what a weekend should really be.
Since nothing really happens in terms of ‘business’ from Friday through Sunday, I had a choice of where to go for the weekend.
Well, my choice was- pay to go somewhere for the weekend, or call upon all friends and friends of friends to see who would house me for three to four days (my weekend began on Thursday in Vienna).
So I got in touch with a friend of a friend…we had never met before, but we decided to meet in Frankfurt and spend the weekend exploring the city.

Being led by a ‘native’ really does make a difference.
I arrived at the train station around 7:30, and was immediately chauffered via automobile ! First one I’ve been in since this trip began..through the city. This building, that church, look at the river—all of the sights—out of the car window instead of a tram or by foot during the day using a lonely planet guide.

Then- dinner at a restaurant where the chef was a friend, we got an amazing free dessert (after pasta with black truffle sauce- YUM!) which consisted of cherry ice cream, a molten chocolate cake, syrup drizzled by professionals, and even a little mint leaf as garnish.

After dinner- more sights in the car, and finally, arrival at a destination with my own bed, a warm blanket—what more could I ask for.

I spent the day Friday mostly by myself since my gracious host had to work. But. In the evening I had a Friday night I will not soon forget.
After eating an apricot filled “Berliner” (scrumptious filled pastry sugary thing), we headed to Wiesbaden for the evening. Hung out with other friends and drank Riesling FROM their vineyard. I mean, really. That was amazing in itself.

And THEN we headed to …what else?...a spa. When in Rome… (aka- Wiesbaden- a hot springs central health spa haven for the Germans and the tourists).

We walk into what looks like a tiled hall of Roman marble, find a locker, and off come the clothes—oh yea, did I mention that “German” spas here are all naked? Both sexes?
Yea. Puritan America just had a heart attack. This would NEVER fly as the ‘norm’ in the US.

So, no clothes (and yes, I just met my host less than 24 hours ago), we first take a shower BEFORE we can enter the spa.
First off- sauna room which had lemongrass salts added to it.
15 minutes.
Next, an ICE SHOWER followed by ICE bath- 5 minutes. Yes. It was painful.
Next, a pool of lukewarm (well, it FELT lukewarm by the time we had finished with the ice shower…but it was actually quite cold) water, next a pool of actually very very hot water—(not jets like a whirlpool).
All the while, naked all around. It was 10pm and the place was hopping.
Next, steam room- PLUS you get some salt to rub all over your body like a scrub until you glisten and sweat it all out again. More ice-shower.

That round of all of the above took about 30 minutes. Now we were ready for a ‘treatment’, which meant that a woman came into the sauna and put special scents inside that were supposed to encourage “deep deep relaxation”….or cleansing or something like that. So we are sitting there for 10 minutes while chamomile and lavender purify our nostrils, and the woman is whipping around a towel to make the scent go up more into our noses and the heat kills me a little more. Really, there WERE about 10 seconds that it was so hot that I didn’t want to breathe. Although I WAS sitting at the top level where the heat rises. But in the end I was fine, I managed to take all the deep breaths that I needed, and so the sauna treatment ended.
Onto the ice shower (really, pieces of ice came out onto my head), ice bath, luke-warm pool, steaming hot pool, and finally a jet-sauna pool.
Now we have been here for about an hour and a half and I’m ready for the longest nap or night of sleep ever.
So, quick shower, walk through the unisex dressing room—which is by now almost empty with a little bit of nakedness left over, and instead of going to sleep we decided to top the night off with a healthy lassy drink with peppermint inside…and then the ever-so-healthy chicken sandwich and French fries.

Ok, let me just take a minute and write about being naked among many many people that were my age, older, and of both sexes for an hour and a half.
It was totally and completely normal. I wasn’t sure what I would really think of the whole thing….when I knew we were going I had a feeling that it would be naked…but maybe I thought there would be separate dressing..undressing rooms…but no. It was…get here, get a locker, take it off baby.
And you know what? It was totally civilized and natural and…well, I don’t need to convince anyone one way or the other…but I’ll just say…that I was pleasantly surprised…as I was this whole weekend, at the amazing experiences that one can have…in places where you may never have known to go unless someone ‘in the know’ told you about it…and introduced you to that experience.

And so—that was only my SECOND night in Frankfurt….there is still a blog entry to come about all of Saturday which was a mixture of singer-life and real-life.
And oh yea, I’ll be on a train to Amsterdam tomorrow morning at 9:30.

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