My traveling companions and I can now look a pig in the eye, secretly sharing the knowledge of its greatest pleasures. Having spent two weeks at a traditional European health spa, as opposed to a beauty spa, we ere exposed to all manner of piggy pleasures - mainly mud and copious amounts of food.
Let me clarify the difference between a health and beauty spa. I see the latter as a place to relax with the end result of nice nails, glowing skin, well conditioned hair and maybe the loss of a pound or two. The Thermia Spa was a place to relax and hammer out the aches and pains of life through a variety of treatments including massages, laser and ultrasound therapy, therapeutic baths along with some unconventional ones like parafango (paraffin and mud) compresses and carbon insulflation (injections of carbon dioxide directly into your sore parts). The food was deliciously rich. But I save the best for last - the mud pack.
First, a warning, if you plan an visiting a European health spa, leave your modesty at home. The therapeutic baths are communal, but if you read the signs correctly, there are separate facilities for men and women. There's a story there I'll write about later. I arrived in Piestany after 17 hours of travel, just in time for dinner. E and L warned me that I'd frequently be hearing the words "take down your clothing." Later that night E told me she had written in her journal that she was a bit anxious about the possibility of hanging out naked with me or L. Well, wouldn't you you it, my first treatment was in the baths with her.
Back to the mud packs. Ladies, this is the the most comforting experience I've ever had. You know how you wake up in the morning, all stiff and achy, and have to drag yourself out of your nice warm bed, into the cold and wet (I'm a Pac NW'er) cruel world to get dressed and off to work? At the spa you roll out of bed, don your fluffy robe, which spent the night hanging on a warmer, and walk to the Napoleon Complex (the group of buildings, pictured, not a psychological disorder) for your mudpack.
You are given a private dressing room, consisting of a small bed with white sheets and blanket,and a hook for your robe. You lose the robe and wait for the sound of the cart rolling down the tiled hallway. It holds two ten gallon tubs of steamy silky sulpher laden mud. The attendant leads you to the mud pack area with another small bed, this time with brown sheets. She glops the hot mud onto the bed and helps you lie on top of it. They use the rest on your joints - elbows, knees, hands, knees and feet. They wrap you up in sheets and a heavy horsehair blanket, tuck you in with a coil heater, turn down the lights and let your achy body absorb the curative goodness of hot mud. They come by every five minutes or so to wipe your sweaty face - absolute luxury.
After about 15 minutes you take a hot shower followed by a cool one. You are then wrapped in a warm sheet and led back to your dressing room where they roll you up in another blanket so you can "recover" from the experience pretending you are a soft burrito. Once again the lights get turned off and you are told to "schlopp gut," that would be "sleep well." This is a painting from the 1800's of their version of the experience. Can you not see the pleasure written all over her face? If pigs could talk...