Visiting the spa at Spa City, where Casanova himself bathed

  Ultramodern baths in Belgium have been rinsing kings, queens and the aristocracy of Europe for centuries

Milena Dimitrova

Especially for the magazine “Eve”

There are at least two topics that I’m immediately ready to argue about. That Belgium is boring and sleepy state. And that SPA does not mean anything other than “health through water” – “Sanus Per Aqua”, from Latin.For some people this explanatio would be enough, however, they will fail in “Who wants to be a Millionaire”. Spa is a romantic city in the eastern part of Belgium and this is the correct answer! Legions of the Roman Empire were quartered in these lands and it has since carried the glory of the mineral springs of Spa. It became so notorious that in English and in Japanese not something else, but the name of the town of Spa became synonimous for health and relaxation, for all the extras in the bathroom and in the pool. Not that I like to argue or to exclamate, but there are grounds for exclamating. I have for example in Finland after a sauna jumped – but really fast, hot from the sauna in the freshly drilled hole in the ice on the surface of the lake outside. In Jordan, a hammam has returned my strength after a two-day walk through the desert and through the rocks. I’ve been splashed by an open air jacuzzi on the roof of the hut near the ski slope in Colorado. Believe me, that the Belgian town of Spa in Thermi took the coolest from around the world and through new technologies have turned the pool into a galactic center.

From the Baths in Rome there are only pieces of antique statues left, only exhibits of archeology, in real spa that boy of Michelangelo’s or Pheidias’ nails your breath, as if he were alive and a strong young man, so to speak. It is clear also that tradition is really showing, like an English meadow, and how nicely it is clipped at the height of fashion. Furthermore, the counter doesn’t take out entire bills from his wallet, but instead ticks silently and gradually in the spa. Three hours cost 17 euros. All day to splash around – 27 euros. In return, they give you a … plastic token. With it you can pass through the automatic door. It is like a coin for the wardrobe. Then it enters like a dial in a watch, which is fastened to the wrist and nothing happenes to it, while you swim in the pool. The same token-gatekeeper opens the barrier to the tourist area – when wet swimsuit starts getting in your way. The invisible chip in the plastic watch pays the bill at the restaurant. Also if you drink coffee or champagne. Again, you pay with it for the massages, pedicure, thalassotherapy, carbo-soda process in a bath of copper – from the metal kuprum, so your skin is empathic with chemical reaction and the value is metaphysical, and the selection doesn’t end there. Inside the pool money can not enter – there’s no corruption, no tips for the masseuse, but in Belgium even the taxidrivers do not expect excessive generosity and are not used to getting the bill rounded up in their favor. When you leave, the same yellow chip tells the ATM how much cash to drain from your card. It’s high Tech so mistakes do not happen. Another surprise is that you need no flip-flops. Everything is white and men, women, children walk around barefoot. It’s perfectly clean everywhere. They give you a pair of virgin terry slippers, if you don’t like getting your feet wet, and after a whole day they stay snowy white. With them you go with a separate elevator with teak flooring to the massage studio. There it’s an Eden Clinic, hundreds of cabins on several floors and occupation for at least a thousand individual nurses. The problem is to choose exactly what massage – from the several dozen. For those who go to decent clubs in Sofia on average, prices will seem low. Yes, low. I repeat – low, or at least advantageous! And it doesn’t smell anywhere of chlorine, instead eucalyptus, but mild and gentle, rather than for inhalations. The fragrance is breathed the strongest in the hammam. There, the ceiling looks like a starry sky. I took a deep breath and I listed about 250 tiny lights in the clouds of steam. And the fountain sings with magic splashes of water Spout spout of the fountain of the Queen, you drink cooling and useful, but it is also an extra. In Brussels in 2007 I hunted for a decent pool because the monthly subscription for club Aspro wasn’t good for me. I found several swimming pools that are above the line of moderate standard, but even in “Poseidon” in the decent neighborhood “Volyuve” they make you reach for two euros for a small bottle from the same Spa from the fountain of Queens, four times more expensive from the supermarket. Water is a treasure and we do not think of coins as we drink it, but in this case the compliment is touching. I went to a spa last Sunday, and here I am rushing to it again. From Brussels to the Baths the distance is just 111 km, measured from the point of Berlaymont, the headquarters of the European Commission. You can reach it for an hour – on highway 42 there are no more than two or three corners, and your average speed gets to 130 km / h. The drivers on the road are responsible, because almost all the way is monitored with invisible cameras mercilessly guarantei you a “felicitation” up to 200 euros for the mere 10 km from above the limit. But i was in a hurry, because I wanted to see the turquoise pool beneath the dome and to pray in this “cathedral”. 32 degrees, circular with a diameter of at least fifty meters and some especially cute architectural curves reminiscent of snails and water vortices. It’s full at a level of 1.40 meters, so that the water comes up to about neck height, perfect to go with mouse steps wherever you whish. At several places inside bubble jaccusies. From the top descend powerful jets and you can place yourself so that they massage the neck and layered migraine. You hide under an umbrella of water – it flows like a transparent visor is poured over your head. Below them you are not as lost as in the vast blue waves, and are anchored somewhere, especially if you want to spend some time alone with your better half. There are no guards to argue with you, if you exit the water to eat – a modestly or as abundant as you like, but tasty, and pour some wine by the pool. How long has it been since you’ve had champagne without clothes, in effect, in a swimsuit? You lie down- on couches and falling asleep, your sight is lost in the trees. Or in white chairs under real orange trees – as in a Persian tale in which time has stopped. The tip of the high-tech, however, are twenty beds under infrared light. It is not tanning, but it has a relaxing effect. You nap for ten minutes and it’s as if you’d slept for ten hours. Over each bed there’s a string of ultrared lamps. They glow for 10 minutes and cool for 5 minutes. It’s ideal to measure time by them and no bulb is burned up. The dome over the pool is so huge that no sound resounds. Outside there’s an almost as large outdoor pool from which rises from the heat haze. Birds sing, the trees rustle. I tried until I reached perfection in lying weightlessly on the surface, while the bubbles from the Jacuzzi keep on top horizontally. I was in the warm embrace of the water, only on my face I felt the wind and the cold winter rain that rains almost constantly in the Kingdom of Albert II. 
The parking outside is filled with twelve rows, each with over thirty cars, and it’s a wonder that there’s no melee anywhere. The swimming pools are ground zero, and the white spiral staircase leads you to the second floor of heaven Families with children dutifully stand below, currently family programs for mothers and fathers with babies are offered. Noisy teenagers shuffle into the sauna for “clothed” on the second floor. A separate wing in the Baths of Spa opens the culture of the naturists: Hamam, Cournot cold to dip your feet to the knees, and three pools with temperatures 20, 38 and 30 degrees. The third boils and splashes rumbles because it is a powerful whirlpool with simultaneous hot and cold squirts. I tried and managed to bring the strings to splash and cut me, where i like. The mercedes of this complex is the sauna. If 40 people were to go in, enough space remains for another fifteen. It’s huge and two of its walls are made entirely of pyrex. You sweat at +85 degrees, and you look at how the city lives its life at the foot of the baths. Cars, traffic lights, an industrial warehouse and even the surrounding hills – the rainy has depopulated them and filled the houses. Additionally I want to tell you about the ceremony in the sauna every Sunday at 14.30, but I just came out of the pool and I still have not explained that the Baths are located on a hill in the middle of town. The terrain in the eastern part of Belgium comes almost to a thousand meters above the sea, which washes its border to the west and northwest, so the province of Liege is known for its mineral spring, and for its peak Blue Arden. It is of course more like a bridgehead, compared to our high blue mountains, however, it is important for Flemish morale. There is a single vaunted ski slope, but it is better to select cross-country skiing. If at all Gulfstream allows snow to pile up in winter in Belgium … 
Well, you see almost that hill from the sauna. With better eyesight in a clear day you will discern how rich Belgians ride race horses in the Blue Hardenne, only those days during the year are no more than your fingers. But the spa procedures aren’t affected by climate. At 14.30 pm on Sunday the tourists ranks thicken. A boy with short trousers appears. He carries a bottle with an aromatic blend of lavender, orange blossom and cedar. Nordic ceremony lies in the fact that three times he drenches with it the volcanic stones and with a towel powerfully shakes the layers of hot air in the sauna. Sweat runs down the people, their beards, their bodies. Then comes the time to pop otu of there, running from the heat, but all first rinsed themselves under the shower before their bodies cool in a Cournot of 20 degrees Celsius. In other words, we didn’t jump from 90 to zero degrees, but insted descended with only two steps to a smaller amplitude. I felt really happy because I remembered how cold it was in the icy lakelake in the original Finnish sauna, and the steam heat in the room literally liquefied in red spots on my skin and I almost saw the face of a heart attack, God forbid. The award in the Spa after a Nordic session is an ice drink of lemon, pomegranate or a tropical cocktail. Several of the ladies around, though they look just the way their mothers gave birth to them, do not miss to kiss the young instructor Nicolas’ cheeks three times- it is so required by the Western manners. The beating hearts, however, must settle down after the session there is still a unique relaxation room, where light seeps through a tree. You tread on teak, you lay in cradles in oak and it’s so dark, that the white robes glow like in a disco. The lamps emit a purple light, but the reflexion is blue. A sufficiently quiet music – harp, keyboards, water and wind – and you gradually doze off. I dreamed of vanilla ice cream with hot raspberries … but I woke up in time for the rendezvous with th masseuse. In weekdays the management of the Baths brush their clients with honey for free. I stop, however, because honey will flow from my mouth! The town Spa reminds me of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, because even the one-storey houses were built impressive and grand. Golf courses, stadiums, hotels with whole constellations, not found in ordinary suburbs. Mountain Glory has imposed a canon of Swiss chalets on houses and surrounding areas. Yards are measured in hectares and there are entire forests in them. The clean air brings you peace. It makes you think more philosophically about your place in nature, the meaning and beauty of earthly life. The Belgian town of Spa takes the lead before Katarino, however much I do not want to admit it because of since several centuries it’s documented in the Golden Book who comes here to splash around. And at least since the sixteenth century “Europe comes to bathe here”. These words were shed from the mouth of Victor Hugo in 1864, when he first came here to relax. Seven years earlier, on the same place rested Alexandre Dumas. In 1577 near the Spa Baths relaxed Walloon Queen Margherita, in 1645 – the mathematician Rene Descartes. The English monarch Charles II followed him in 1654, the Swedish Queen Christina – in 1655, Russian Tsar Peter the Great in 1717, the French King Louis Philippe I in 1878-a … Two dozen royals and 94 celebrities are duly entered in the Golden Book, which serves ideally history, and trade. Here bathed even Casanova! At the end of last century in the city worked the classic bathroom – just as magnificent a building in the center as is the casino next to it. But in the casino halls in addition to gambling tables and machines, is housed a round theater, and a huge library. In the Baroque facade of the old baths you entered the same way you do at the Metropolitan Museum. Behind it telltale chimney sticks out, but has stopped steaming. Only a few meters away from the old bath is the lower station of the train, climbs to the top of the hill. Both cars land their passengers all the way inside the new spa baths. It’s more than certain that they discreetly washed the fatigue of prominent guests from existing and monarchies of Europe and the Middle and Far East away.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *