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Switzerlands Thermal Baths Recharge Your Batteries

Published: December 25, 2009 (Issue # 1538)



  • Many of the hotels in Leukerbad are equipped with their own thermal pools for healing and recuperative treatments.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

  • Leukerbads public thermal center Burgerbad.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

  • Gnomes on the windowsill of a house.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

  • Switzerlands slowest train, the Glacier Express, provides some stunning views.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

There are a million and one reasons to go to Switzerland. Some go for the spectacular ski resorts, whether it be St. Moritz to Zermatt. Others go for the famous classical music festival in Lucerne, an exclusive beauty treatment in a private clinic in the Geneva Lake region, or a weekend of wine tasting in Valais. Swiss wines rank among the best in Europe, although the country produces just enough to meet its own needs, so hardly anything is exported. And one shouldnt underestimate the countrys gastronomic lure even if we were to ignore the ever-popular fondue and rosti, the countless ways in which perch, wild game or calf liver are creatively prepared and presented are enough to titillate any gourmands taste buds in a country that is peppered with Michelin-starred restaurants.

The focus of this trip, however, was the countrys thermal baths and spas.

Reigning as one of the worlds wellness Meccas, Switzerland boasts some fabulous spa resorts. The healing properties and comforts of Yverdon-les-Bains and Leukerbad rival the reputations of Italys Abano Therme, Indias Kerala and Japans Atami.

My Swiss bathing odyssey began in Yverdon-les-Bains an idyllic spa town, only 50 minutes drive from Geneva. In my bath robe and with a huge towel over my shoulders, I entered the Centre Thermal through the glass passage connecting the pools to the Grand Hotel des Bains, the resorts premiere lodging, and headed straight to the outdoor pools. It was a chilly morning, and a plunge into the luxurious warm and bubbly pool felt absolutely divine. As I was breathing the refreshing morning air and watching the steam rising from the 34 degree Celsius pools, I found myself almost wishing that it was snowing I could have stretched out my arms out and watched the snowflakes melting before reaching the water. Although both the resort and the hotel are busy all year round, the pools are somehow never crowded, making the bubbly relaxation quiet and serene. There are no street sounds whatsoever, and the view of the Jura mountains and the Alps is stunning. The benefits of the Yverdon waters were described in ancient manuscripts dating back over 1,500 years to a period when the Ancient Romans set up a camp in this spa town.

The thermal pampering continued in Leukerbad, once home to an Ancient Roman bathhouse and a traditional destination for Christians in search of healing. The picturesque Swiss Alps village, just over 200 kilometers northeast of Geneva, houses Europes largest thermal-spring resort 3.9 million liters of water flow into its 22 pools every day. Leukerbad boasts 60 hot springs, the water comes out of the ground at 51 degrees Celsius, and has to be cooled to body temperature before entering the pools. According to the locals, 40 years pass between the water falling on the mountains as rain or snow and it coming out of the springs, enriched with essential minerals.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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