You all know that my health and my brain have been a bit of a mess through out the trip.
I mean, you’ve all read the whining.
But one thing I haven’t been complaining to you all about, despite the increasing difficulty and pain it has been causing, is my back.
I have a pretty, freaking bad case of Scoliocis. So, like most of the Nethelands, I was built pretty wonky.
And with carrying heavy luggage and walking miles on cobbled streets etc, my back and shoulders had become AWFUL travel companions.
I had mentioned to Else that my shoulders were sore on the day that I arrived in Woerden. She suggested that Landie and I head to the sauna for a little heat treatment! I thought “Sure! Have a massage, sit in the heat for a bit. Good idea!”.
When we pitched the idea to Yolande the next day, she was all for it and we immediately blocked out Saturday for our trip to the Sauna.
Saturday morning, Els, Yolande, my aching shoulders and I were sitting having a light breakfast. Els made some mention of a need to take robes to the spa.
I was confused.
Yolande replied that we would also need slippers.
Then Els point blank asked me “and you know that everyone is naked at the sauna?”.
Side note: UM, naked is one of my least favourite states of being. I’d choose sick over naked. I’d choose hungover over naked.
This is because I HATE my body, I’m desperately anxious of people looking at me and I was taught that naked was a very undesirable state of being.
Ok. Back to the story.
A bolt of terror shot right through me.
Fuck fuckity fuck fuck!
I mumbled something in reply. But I was too busy trying to think of an excuse not to go anymore to remember.
And then my shoulders started aching even more.
I had to choose;
further pain and sleeplessness due to my shoulders of doom?
the possible excruciating experience of being naked in public, and worse, near my friend.
Yolande obviously sensed my silent but impending meltdown.
So, while we did a few errands, she asked me if I was uncomfortable with the whole idea of ‘naked at the sauna’.
We chatted about it. I explained my various insecurities. She told stories of having gone to saunas with her mama, and her friends and how they’ve always felt very safe to her. She also pointed out that it would be excellent for my back.
Eventually I was convinced to give it a try. And if I hated it, I could go and get drunk at the in house bar while Yolande enjoyed the treatments.
But dudes, I was packing it.
The sauna we were heading to was called “SpaSereene”, and all we knew was that Els thought it was pretty pretty.
It was about 25mins drive out of Woerden and the drive went through beautiful farm lands and forests. But I was kinda too busy freaking out to have enjoyed the views too much.
SpaSereene was absolutely massive! It was As large as a hotel and was equipped with saunas plural, pools plural, baths plural and a massive restaurant and bar. An entire wall of the building was made of glass, with a view that looked out over green grass, a flowing river and a tree lined embankment.
When we entered, we were given two electronic wristbands which gave us access to the lockers, and could keep tabs of any food, drinks, or treatments we ordered.
At the lockers, a group of happy people quickly went from clothed to naked in about 30 seconds. They then cuddled into their robes and entered the main sauna.(I was not so graceful with my clothing removal. But there is literally nothing graceful about me so I really wasn’t surprised.)
The sauna was SO IMPRESSIVE to behold! It was gigantic, meticulously decorated and situated in an incredibly picturesque location. I would have loved to take photos but, due to the naked people, I assumed that a camera was not a good idea.
We had to start with a shower, to make sure we weren’t brining people germs into the pristine spa environment. And as a first step, I still found it pretty hard. It was a communal shower, AND there were guys in there too!
But not long after I cautiously stepped into one of the streaming jets, I realised that no one actually gave a shit that I was naked.
We were all naked.
So people just chatted with their spa friend and left everyone else well enough alone.
And thank god for that realization.
After the shower we had a gentle foot bath, looking out over the lake. Then we sat in a Sauna where the steam was infused with rose oil, which was heavenly. Then we headed to a small pool where the water was infused with Moroccan herbs. Then we went for a swim in the massive pool, which also connected to another pool outside. Then more saunaing. And then lunch.
The restaurant at SpaSereene is wonderful, their menu is uber healthy AND delicious. There were more fabulous views of the river, the waitresses were soft spoken and all the clientele were happy and relaxed.
You had to wear robes in the Restaurant (thank god for OH&S!) so the spa goers had that ‘happy/sleepy’ look that baby’s get between bath time and bed time.
Landie and I had smoothies, both of which promised to deliver 75% of our daily required fruit intake!
We went back out into the sauna and our first stop was the Dead Sea Salt Baths. They are absolutely magic.
You lay in a small tub of VERY salty water and you have a pool noodle to rest your head. As soon as you close your eyes, it feels like your floating in the middle of a calm ocean. It was heavenly.
Also, as the only person left in Australia who doesn’t know how to swim, I got to float for the first time without quickly panicking and ruining it!
After the salt baths Landie and I decided that we were brave enough to take a jaunt over to the ‘Cold Bath’.
Cold? It was FUCKING FREEZING!
Landie dipped her feet in and quickly decided that it was not for her.
Bolstered by my new found bravery in the face of nudity, I threw myself in.
In about 2 seconds flat I had flung myself back out again.
It was awesome!
Then we found our favourite Sauna of the entire Spa, the Rock Salt Crystal Cave. It was a massive cave, equipped with a giant statue of Indian Buddah and intimidating spiked temple doors. 70 degrees Celsius, Tibetan chant music, 15 minutes. Pure bliss.
We did more swimming and saunaing and Landie and I sat in the outdoor whirl pool as we watched the sun go down.
We manage to spend over 4 hours running from suana to sauna, and we know that we didn’t get to try them all.
We left feeling invigorated and I felt quietly proud of my “Only in Europe” style experience.
Els, because she is a diamond amongst women, insisted that she pay for both of us to spend the day at the spa.
It was overwhelmingly generous of her and I hope I have managed to impart just how greatful I was.
Now, on the train to Paris, my shoulders are less painful, my head feels clear and I still feel relaxed.
Sigh of contentment.
Hope you’re all well, my sweetest of sweet things.
No pictures. But here is a link to SpaSereene where photos can be found.