When you look outside your window, and you see big, fluffy fabulous flakes of snow coming down, what is your first thought? Is it swimming? Because that is our first thought! Not just swimming, but swimming in the outdoor pool!

Before you think we are too nuts, it’s at our local mineralbad, Paracelcus-Therme, warm and incredibly beautiful, the hot mineral baths are heated up to 36°C or 96°F. Mineral baths & spa’s are a big thing here in Southern Germany, second only to Budapest. It is one of our most favorite things to do, go out in a snowstorm, put on swimsuits, and swim outside.

The first couple of times were a little stressful there is an order, as in everything in Germany, in how to spa. We are old hands now, but the first couple of times, with our then-limited German, were hard. Each spa is a little different, and for the vast majority of the time we only go to swim, but here’s how you spa:

  • Pay to swim. You can give a real person or a machine your money. At Paracelcus it’s 10 per person for 2 hours.
    • You now get either a chip (like a plastic poker chip) or a waterproof bracelet.
    • You must insert that chip into the turnstile to get in. Take the chip back!
  • You can usually rent towels or robes too. We bring our own.
  • Side note: it’s incredibly warm inside. I usually take off my jacket & hat now.
  • You enter through the locker room. This is more difficult than it sounds:
    • You enter via a dressing booth. Change into swimsuit there.
    • Walk out the other door. That’s right, there are two doors to every dressing booth.
    • Now you are at the locker banks, put your clothes away, grab your towel and lock the locker.
    • At Paracelsus you stick your plastic chip in the lock, turn and your chip is now part of a waterproof bracelet. Put it on.
    • You walk past the showers to the pool(s) area. Shower before swimming.
    • You are still inside, nice & warm, and you enter the outdoor pool from inside.

Once you are in the pool, incredibly warm & soothing, you swim under, or push aside, heavy plastic curtains. The crisp cold air, and snow, feels amazing on your face & head. We almost always go at night, and there are gorgeous soft light “balls” surrounding the pool. The pool itself is subtly lit with blue lights. The hot water rises up to greet the cold winter day and fog is created. The end results is like a fairytale dream. Soft fog, white snowflakes, ethereal lights. It is relaxing for both the mind and body.

We spend about an hour swimming outside. There’s a lazy river, a inner “hot” tub that’s not much warmer but it’s where the hot spring comes in, a mushroom fountain, a waterfall feature, reclining under water seats, and two rows of water massage jets.

Note: the water massage jets have an order. You start at number 1, and when the lights turn green you move to number 2. Rinse & repeat. Everyone follows this order without question. It’s never a problem to get your turn in. It runs smoothly and efficiently and everyone’s sore muscles get a turn.

Inside there are a not-very-deep lap pool, a therapy pool (perfect for floating), “erlebenis” showers (different shower heads) a Turkish steam cave/room scented with lemon and an hotter steam bath scented with mint. There is also an actual Spa side separate from the main pools, this is strictly adults, and strictly no textiles (ie. it is nude).

We like to get hot & sweaty in the Turkish steam bath, Dave & Dane brave the ice cold waterfall after, and Tess & Dave also love the hotter steam bath with mint. It’s too hot for me & Dane and I hate mint. What I do love is the included water exercise class. It’s why the lap pool is not-very-deep. So you can stand in chest-high water and exercise with weights.

For the water exercise class you get foam “weights” and they are surprisingly heavy (my muscles are screaming this morning) once you put them under water and swing them around. Alternately, you use the foam weights to float your body while you work on core strength and fling yourself around under water. It’s a fun, quick, tiring workout.

Leaving the baths is the reverse of entering:

  • Take a shower (we usually grab our shampoo).
  • Stick your bracelet in the locker lock, unlock and grab the chip.
  • Grab your clothes and enter the dressing booth.
  • Exit the dressing booth through the other door.
    • There are tons of hairdryers available, no need to bring your own (I usually just stick a hat over my wet hair).
  • You again insert your chip in a turnstyle, this time it keeps it. You are done!

It took us multiple visits to realize that once we are in the entrance, there’s a free mineral water fountain. You need your own, nonbreakable, cup for this but it’s amazing, crystal clear, sparkling water. And it tastes so good after two hours of swimming, steaming & exercise.