Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Cathedrals of the Flesh

From the blurb on the back of the book: "A lot of books make you feel dirty. This one makes you wish you were clean." Guardian.

Well, that's one of the funniest puffs I've ever heard.

Look at that picture on the's the Gellért Baths in Budapest, and it's the real reason this book makes this Blog, which is titled "Swimming", not "Bathing". One of the great regrets of my (travelling) life is that I never went to the Gellért when I was in Budapest. I did pop my head in, and we did spend the day at the pool complex at St Margaret's Island, but passed up the Gellért. Been kicking myself ever since. Here's another blogger's homage to the Gellért complex: Heaven, dinner and a rooftop bar by Di Campbell.

So, back to the book. Alexia Brue and her friend Marina (a Kazakhstani princess, no less) harbour fantasies of setting up their own bathing complex, so Alexia sets out to visit public baths in a variety of countries, including
* * home town New York;
* * Turkey (where, sadly in my view, she doesn't visit the best hamams in Bursa and its suburbs and Termal, confining herself to Istanbul);
* * a search for no-longer existing Roman baths in Ancient Korinth, Greece
* * the rich bathing traditions of Russian banyas, Finnish sauna, Japanese onsen (hot spring resorts) and sento (city bathing houses).

It's a lovely travelogue/guide to bathing sensations, and some of the facilities and bathing traditions include plunge pools or swimming as one aspect.

The Resource Guide at the back has added a few possibilities to my swimming wish list, for example the Caracalla Therme in Baden-Baden, Germany; several more in Budapest, some amazing bathing experiences in Iceland and the luxury hotel/spa Therme Vals in Switzerland.


Mark said...

Hi Sally: I was glad to see you visited my company's blog. Fun.

If you've been to Garrett's, you know that he is loving the snow in his home state of Wisconsin. His training schedule while visiting us on the holiday has been good. We're lucky to have a decent team near us.

Cheers and have a great holiday.


dicampbell said...

Hey Sally!

Thanks for linking to my blog - I really appreciate it!

And should you ever have the opportunity again to pass by the Gellert, please seize it. It's completely worth it.