Baden Baden: swimming in snow and darkness

I have always liked spa towns, not so much for the spa treatments, but because they invariably have fine architecture and lovely parks.

On this year’s drive back from Italy, we decided to take in the ultimate European spa town of Baden Baden, and stayed amidst the (slightly faded) grandeur of the Baderhof hotel which was where the Czar and Czarina used to stay.

It was trying to snow as we arrived, and getting dark, so not worth exploring the town until the next day. However, the thermal baths awaited! We donned the towelling dressing gowns provided and went to the indoor pools, one of which was the temperature of a hot bath. From this pool there was a small entrance to the outside, hung with plastic strips. Even though it was snowing, I swam through into the darkness. Presumably they had assumed nobody but a mad Englishwoman would want to swim outside in such awful weather, so they hadn’t turned the lights on.

In the steamy darkness I couldn’t really make out where the edge of the pool was, nor where it became shallower with steps. The result was that I grazed my knee and bumped an arm, but it was worth it. How magical it felt!

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