Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Suffered modifications


Die Hard
Traditions die hard. And Europe's love to it's thermal bathing traditions are no exception. 

In spite of the world moving on, many of Europe''s hot springs remain stuck into enclaves of pre-WW II practices of being enticed by the waters. Appealing to citizens with time on their hands, a hot spring resort in Europe seeks to entertain soakers by offering a plethora of water based activities overlaid with medical thoughtfulness. And the thermal establishment will determine what you will get. And did you know that the waters are natural? Because they are, even though we have built, rebuilt and redecorated everything such, that naturalness is not something we connect with thermal bathing ...

Steeped in traditions such as Calvinism and Catholicism, actual enjoying while soaking in Europe seems to be an afterthought. Appealing to the new generations, which are a slightly more hedonistic and in for new experiences, is totally dismissed.

Caldes de Montbui, located just outside of Catalunya's capital of Barcelona, (north-east Spain) seems to be world's away from that magnet of everything hip, happy and hopeful, Barcelona itself. Spend a day in Barcelona you will be touched by its' diversity, its' youth, its' connection to the past and its' positivism. 
Built with cement, Barcelona combines a vibrancy which is evoked in it's football, architecture, avant-garde art, sports and cuisine to name a few. 
It manages to combine a non-descript natural setting into a home for the lotus eater. Just take a look at its' beaches, late afternoon, where everyone (with exception of the traditional tourist, still caught up in a spiritual fervour to stand in line at one of the paid attractions) can be them-self: an individual.

But Caldes is none of this.

Located only 30 km's from La Rambla, there's precious little evidence to link it to that metropole. Even the bus ride out to Caldes takes near to an hour, adding to the air of distance. 

The town of Caldes de Montbui is essentially a small village which caters to many professionals of the outer Barcelona suburbs. 
With the exception that it is steeped in history and is still seeking to run this same gambit. 
Gone are the Romans which set up store in Caldes to take advantage of the thermal waters. 
But where will the new tourists come from? The search continues ...

The use of the thermae of Caldes de Montbui dates back long ago, even to before the Romans arrived. But at least the Romans put in an effort to construct something lasting. Even today these can still be evidenced (they are the best kept Roman thermae on the Iberian peninsula), but a fence around the ruins precludes further exploration. 
Behind the fence one can witness a large (but empty) pool, an arched roof and off to the side further rooms (?). This was the hottest part of the thermae (caldarium) and excavation has revealed that what remains was just a small part of what once existed.

The main square of Caldes de Montbui: straight ahead are the renovated ruins of the Roman thermae, adjacent to the left is the museum. Right the Boquetas spa hotel.

Inspired by their remains (and supposedly some hefty sums of subsidy), a small museum has popped up next door, aptly named Museu Thermalia. Inside are located the local tourism office, a number of local products for sale as well as a two story exhibition on Caldes' thermal past and a floor devoted to Picasso insider and sculptor Manolo Hugué who lived in Caldes de Montbui for 17 years, where he also died.

The exhibition on the thermal past includes a number of scenes set to re-create of what is believed to be the living past. Below are a number of plates from the exhibit which give a better overview of what the place would have looked like and show the womens (?) sudatorium (vaulted steam room, top left; did they have separate bathing facilities?), individual baths (top right), the gymnasium (bottom left) and the apodyterium (entrance) supposedly in use (bottom right).

Contemplating afterwards, to me, the museum is quite interesting. 
But I've seen this before in Spain at the Termas de Bande: museum and all, but no other visitors besides myself? Is it just a chicken and egg situation? Or not?

Directly opposite the museum and the adjacent Roman thermae is the Font del Lleó (Lion fountain). This spring gushes forth very hot (74º C) water. Built in 1581 and renovated later in 1822 (source) the current set up dates from 1927.

The lion gushing forth.

Behind the museum lie some medieval walls as well as some left-overs of what look like watermills, dating back to the 1500's. The subsidy programme has afforded to construct a walkway along the banks of the small Boquetas stream, culminating in a washing place, otherwise known in Catalan as safareig (which literally translates into English as laundry room).

Safareig or their equivalent in Spanish, lavadero publico (see above), are phonomena found in and around the Pyrénées and the rest of Spain. Water streams are diverted into tubs with big washing stones adjacent. 
Though a safareig could also refer to larger water reservoirs.

In Caldes, the Safareig de la Portalera, one of the two remaining reservoirs (the other the Safareig de la Canaleta), is a long pool, approximately 10 meters by 2,5 meters wide. All around this is a ledge made to assist in the washing process. 
Typical of the nineteenth century (source), the safareig was restored just a few years ago (source) a feature which got highlighted on national television. Sourced from the aforementioned Font del Lleó, it means that the temperature of this bassin is still quite high. This source also mentions that the waters are refreshed daily.

Somewhere in the past this safareig was heavily used, but not anymore. 

A different kind of use can by found from the Catalan Way blog. It describes a visit to Caldes de Montbui. During the visit there is also an art performance in the Safareig de la Portalera itself. On it's past use, the blogger mentions the following:
'This performance took place in a Safareig - a communal wash house that uses the natural hot water and has a large central stone tub where women used to come to wash their laundry and talk. There is a Catala phrase 'fer un safareig' which means to gossip - a word that in English has some negative associations but which I think also describes a vital and caring way of passing on news about your friends aquaintances and family. Womens communications - so many words that are pejorative - nagging, bitching, gossiping....
This town now also has a large community of people from Mali and some of these women have begun to use the Safareig as a meeting place and for washing clothes again. There are three Safareigs in Caldes and one of them seemed derelict and sad although as part of the project it was being used as a grafitti house where you could write your desires on the walls.
At the end of the performances people were invited to have a hot bath in the tub - I dangled in my feet and legs but wasn't tempted to plunge in when it started to fill up with hot steamy bodies'. 
Safareig de la Portalera

Well, there were no steamy bodies other than the steamy body of water. An elder man did emerge from a garden nearby to collect a can full of water. But no evidence of anyone doing their washing here. The pristine surroundings would suggest that a plunge is not entirely a common practice.

There are quite a few video's available on the subject of Caldes' safareigs, such as this one: 

Time to retire
We wandered back to the village square past the Termes Victoria. It's website adds to our growing knowledge on Caldes:
'Water comes out at a temperature of 74ºC, the highest in the Iberian Peninsula, but the most important thing in the mineral medicinal water is the minerals it has. In our case, the waters contain sodium chloride and fluorides. These kinds of waters are best for stress therapies, fracture recovery, rheumatism, degenerative osteoarthritis or arthritis'.
On history of the Termes:
'The origins of the Hotel Termes Victòria go back to the 17th century, although no one knows exactly when it was built. Initially, it took up several medieval buildings and even part of the old walls. Throughout the years it has suffered many different architectural modifications, but it preserves original elements such as the vault of the baths, from the 18th century.
Despite its modern facilities, the hotel is still run familiarly, since the 1850s, by the family Anglí-Palaudarias.
The Hotel Termes Victoria has maintained a selected and loyal group of guests. From King Alfonso XII to painters and writers in search of peace and tranquility for their inspiration. It has also been an ideal place for the meeting of teams such as Ladislao Kubala’s FC Barcelona. He loved thermal treatments'.
What we don't gleam from the above is that in it's heyday there were no less than 8 facilities available for thermal treatments in Caldes de Montbui. Now however, this has dwindled to three: the above and two other places both part of the Boquetas group. Which in fact comprises just those two.

The Vila de Caldes hotel seems quite a flash place and the prime part of the Broquetas group. Located away from the old town square visitors, the hotel web site fails to provide much other info, than that a room price and some vague references to thermal treatments. Hotel booking site gives this it a  7.1, in comparison to Victoria's 7.7. Both on the negatives as well as on the positives there is little between the two. Do note Victoria's guest Vincent's negative:
'Guests very old felt more like a retirement home than hotel'
I doubt the other thermal venues would be any better. Bathing in thermal waters is apparently something of earlier generations ... Europe-wide!?

Tripadvisor also puts Victoria ahead of the other two, 4 stars. But do note this visitor, msr38 comments:
'Another negative is that the average age does not fall below 80 years, which makes the services offered by the hotel are only aimed at this sector of the population'.
Tripadvisor does note a huge difference, giving Vila de Caldes just two stars ....

If only we had known the following on forehand, we might have never tried out the Broquetas hotel spa. Tripadvisor hands out 3 stars, there being a mention or two of geriatric clientèle / staff .... comes to an mediocre average of 7.3.

View of the town square looking onto the Boquetas spa hotel.

Balneoario de Boquetas looks a little less smart than the Victoria and we saunter inside. The receptionist is busy on the phone and decides then and there that we must be soakers and points out that we must go around the back of her office.

Behind her office is another desk, that of the bathing receptionist, who also manages some English. She explains that in spite of some of the bathing possibilities on offer being over the 20€, the going tariff today is two treatments for 16€.  Even that is quite steep, but who knows there are also personal touches making it well worth the hand-out. Our number one choice is of course a thermal bath (they have no pool?), number two is less clear. After a lot of consideration by us and the bathing hostess, we all settle on the high pressure water massage.
Everything is added up (use of bath robes are free, but we need to pay for slippers) we are then directed to return to hotel receptionist to settle the outstanding amount. She is still busy on the phone and after I hand her a note of 50€ I neatly receive 50€ in return but in notes of smaller denomination. Bathing receptionist lady sighs and settles the payment herself.

The formalities out of the way, we are directed to two small changing facilities, down a hall, down another hall and there we are. The main hall is apparently Catalan modernist and looks very nice, but also dated. But who knows when something is dated and when it returns in vogue?
Anyway, after changing in the barely enough space for 1 person changing rooms, we are directed to a door on the side of the long hall. Behind the door lies an L-shaped pool, approximately 4 by 4m. We are allowed the privacy of our private bath, bathing lady turns on a switch which will mean that we will have 20 minutes of jets and fountains in which to soak. Instructions are to report back in the hall afterwards.

Not quite the Roman sized bathing pool: what you see is what you get.

After the 20 minute soak we report back in the hallway and we are afforded entrance to the water massage room. The 5m long room has a chair on the door side, a contraption resembling a fixed fire hose and on the far side are two aluminium brackets, a meter high. An explanation follows: the volunteer is put up against the wall and bathing lady fires water thereby simulating a massage experience. At set intervals one is told to turn, so in the end one is blasted from all sides.
'Naked or not?'
Up to ourselves, which is both a relief and a concern. The answer lies in the lead photo ...

Anyway in the end it is quite relaxing having a high pressure massage, something different at least. I note that this kind of therapy is quite common in some less up to date centers of wellness. Think Eastern Europe.

The hotel web site adds some info on the past:
'The activity of Broquetas Spa began in 1729 when its founder, Salvador Broquetas, built the first bath house where the current spa is located, giving it his name.
The first still-standing reconstruction is from 1770, when the initial spa was enlarged after acquiring the Can Vincenç hostel. 
Initially the spa was a building with three floors that towards the end of two centuries of existence it had once again been enlarged in order to include even a private park for our clients.
The predominantly modernist style harmoniously melds with the more heterogeneous areas that resulted in successive transformations'. 
The web site Balnecat adds:
'In 1729 Salvador Broquetas built the first bathhouse in the current spa called Spa Broquetas since then. The modernist building has some areas of great architectural value and is part of the overall architectural monument protected in Caldes de Montbui.
Inside, there are many elements that betray the influence modernist (scales, the Hall gallery bathrooms and balconies), with a spectacular mix of stained glass, lamps and marquetry. Sculptures, tapestries, paintings, and especially one of the largest collections of owls known, the most generous of Spain, are other interesting elements that can be found'
In total the fun has lasted an hour, it's time to find out where the changing rooms were, dress, admire the owls (?) and get ourselves a lunch.

And lunches in Caldes de Montbui turn out to be surprisingly easy and tasty. Back to return to Barcelona!

All-in-all, Caldes is a nice break and quite interesting in itself. Don't however come here with a thermal treat in mind. You might just be disappointed. It seems that the bathing facilities are yet to catch up with the 21st century, both in ambiance and in service. 

Having bathed in hot springs on 3 continents, I still fail to see why thermal baths are required to be small cubby holes and I have some questions on the pureness of the water, it certainly wasn't filled why we were waiting ... 

Probably for too long, thermal retreats have been able to make ends meet by focussing on an ageing clientèle. Not so any more. From many of the remarks in the reviews I noticed that the reviewers were young and were out of sync with what was on offer.

Getting to Caldes de Montbui is not too much of a trouble, the Sagalés bus company drives there half hourly from Barcelona's Fabra i Puig bus station, the journey taking up to an hour.

On youtube I found an overview of the sources and safareigs:

Inside the thermae 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ephemeral or sustainable soaking?

Nothing happening at Eleftheron
Sometimes things don't work out. Having, developing, maintaining and keeping a hot spring site fresh is ... well, actually not too difficult a task. 
But failures are for those to see. Sometimes, things just don't work out.

Eleftheron (Elefteron or Eleftheres (named after the former municipality) or Ελευθερών) is apparently well known as the great Greek from Macedonia (Alexander) stopped off here roughly 2,000 years ago and took to the waters. At least, so goes the story. But in Greek Macedonia, many of the historical claims to fame start and stop at Alex the Great. Busy bloke.

Located in the municipality of Pangaio (Kavala region, northern Greece), there's not a village anywhere nearby. Rather it's a turn off the seaside highway, between the towns Orfani and Nea Paramos
The turn-off is just before where the road crosses the Marmaras river (if coming from the west). 

Well indicated (see photo above), once off the highway, things turn eerie. There's evidence of past opulence: the approximately 1 km drive between the highway and the entrance gates to the former spa resort are lined with a real pavement and lantern posts, possibly suggesting past guests to seek the sea for more soaking.


Once through the gates, one comes to a number of buildings. Many buildings. But all have in common the same slow time-induced dilapidation. One could also say a modern day ruin. Victim of the crisis?

Another two cars are parked nearby (lead photo) and I also see two motorcycles. And a couple of friendly dogs. Nothing happening here.

We park our car and walk around to see what or if something is happening. To the left looks like what used to be the main building, to the right a bathing building? Beyond there's a small bridge straddling the river. From the bridge one sees a pipe emanating from the aforementioned likely bathing building, suggesting that yes, this could be the former bath house.

Crossing the bridge: on the right a hot spring?

Beyond the bridge on the other bank of the Marmaras river are a line of former apartments / hotel rooms. Or so it once seemed (see following photo below).

Soaking Satisfaction
We backtrack and follow the river upstream along a track. 

Not much further ahead we spot another car parked on the track. Three ladies are standing around, apparently having just bathed evidenced by wet hair towel wraps. 
Beyond the parked car and soaked ladies is something that might once have been a bath. Or not. 
The area surrounding this pond is dirty; providing ample evidence of popular use (many a candle) but the pond itself is clear and clean. 

As we seem to be the only ones around (the nearby ladies have just sped off) we undress and lower ourselves into the moderately hot waters. 
What a delight, to soak in daylight, au-naturel with only nature around us. Birds are chirping, the river is gushing. No other sounds.

Another satisfied soaker 

Until a car comes up behind us. A lady steps out and politely asks how long are we going to stay (point towards non-existent watch). In response to our 10 minutes she retreats to her car and waits patiently for us to finish the soak. Apparently the custom is to park the car on the track thus signalling the next in line that the spring is occupied. Imposing on others is frowned on? Gracious?

After redressing we return to our car, parked near the buildings. We explore the building where we previously saw water rushing from. 
Inside there are a number of small stalls each containing a bath tub. None have seen use since.  Since a long time. 
At the end of the silent hall, a door opens up to a large 4 by 4 m tub. Water is rushing in. Despite the buildings slowly caving in, this tub is still in use, looks good enough to go.

But if need be, the outside tub would be your preferred choice for a soak.

Once was the preference?

This site volunteers this info on the Eleftheron of the past:
'The waters' temperature varies from 36 to 42 Celsius and there are private or common baths and pools.The water is rich in sulfur sources therefore ideal for muscle-skeletal disorders (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, etc.) and skin disorders as well.The water therapy is suitable for treating asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases'.
The pleasurable Kairos Garden Hotel, roughly 20 km's toward Kavala just outside the quaint village of Eleftheres, has more practical info of the past:
'Today, the place contains of three springs, with temperature from 36 to 41 degrees Celsius. As a beginner, you start with a fifteen minutes dip in the coldest bath, which is situated in the building on the top picture. Here you have your own private cabinet with a huge bath tub, where you lie for the required time under running water.
The waters contains sulphate and other minerals and have a proved positive effect on rheumatism, arthritis and muscle pains.
In Greece it's common the the doctor will write you a prescription to mineral bath for several health problems.
My mother in law used to come here for a couple of weeks every year, taking healing baths for all her pains and aches twice a day. She used to stay in the hotel and this was her annual "housewife" holiday, where she´d meet the same people year after year.
The location also has a restaurant and from time to time an orchestra comes to play - as no Greek will ever be to ill to dance!'
Hard to imagine. Though even this website experience by Txominn creeds:
'Following the course of the river to get to the birth of one of these springs where there are stairs leading to a small tub. The setting is spectacular, and the atmosphere is authentic in his tavern. When we were there, people were eating, at one point got up and started dancing rebetika'.
Posted in 2009, he also adds four photo's and a video (of the dancing!). What has happened since?

Better days: an aerial overview of the bathing complex, looking back over the apartments towards the baths. Source

Again from 2009 there was this experience, when the resort was still in operation Translated with google from Spanish:
'It was a wonderful experience. It is a beautiful spot crossed by a river where it takes several sulfur springs that flow at 42 degrees. There is an area where you can swim in these waters free, and where they have 40 spa tubs and a large pool. In the tavern opposite the resort enjoy an authentic Greek atmosphere. There had been sitting at the table several families having fun dancing to the sound of rebetika musicians that played after dinner'.
Greek language website mentions temperatures of 40 - 52 °C and:
'The abundant hot mineral waters gush in used since Roman times. It survives in good condition a domed Byzantine bath'.
This website then adds a little context:
'A vault­ed Byzantine bath is saved in a relatively good condition'.
I wonder where this bath may be, did not discover it ...
Meanwhile another source, Gay Greece mentions: 
'Situated near the main road from Kavala from Thessaloniki, 46 km from Kavala. In panels for Thermals, go straight and after 1-2 kms before a abandoned small outpost, turn right on a dirt road leading to the beach. Hang straight & gay nudists'.
Feeling gay? Certainly looks like it. 
Photo from Mano Kouri's collection named Greece Natural Spa's. Caption: 
'MKGR_SP_095439 Greek Spas Kavala, Eleftheres, young woman bathes in the healing mineral water'.

By the way did you know that Greece has one of the longest recorded histories of soaking in hot springs [1]?  

Stand. Off.
Then I found this which sort of sums up current day stand-off (the link dates to October 2012). With some assistance from google translate [sic] I found out the following:
There is a Citizens' Initiative for Saving Baths Eleftheron which questions authorities objectives for the future of Eleftheron. Apparently the objective is to invite an investor who will be given the free hand in developing and upgrading the hot springs to a (medical) center with 80 beds alongside a four star hotel with same capacity.
The initiative wants to know the terms of the deal between the local government and Kinisis SA (a not so internet savvy company), for safeguards protecting the archeological significance of the current buildings and to ensure local (and public) access to the hot springs (site). 
It also notes: 
'In the area of ​​the baths are now 31 buildings. The oldest is an Ottoman stone bathroom, with a dome, which dates from the late 18th century and has been declared a protected monument. The sources of [Eleftheron], although known since ancient times, developed into a modern spa space 1908-1910 and fortunate their design takes one of the major architects of the interwar Greeks, Aristotle A. Zachos.  
This is underlined by the intelligent design of Aristotelis Zachos, early 20th century, is in danger once again razed by bulldozers uncontrolled "growth" and the ephemeral private profit. Allow this?'

Another website follows with the same intent but comes with a clearer call for a  no to the sale of the Eleftheron baths. The website is also dated from October 2012.

The above clearly shows the levels of local resistance to yet again wishing a bag load of money will help your with your problems. It won't. It's like hoping for Ferrari when all you can afford is a Dacia. And note the Dacia will do the work.

Within a 2 hour drive of Greek Macedonia's major population center, Thessaloniki, there are at least 15 different soaking sites, not counting the two mud bathing centers :
Nea Apollinia
Loutra Pozar (Loutraki)
Megali Vrisi
Nea Kassani
Agia Paraskevi

With the exception of Loutra Pozar which is located in an area of outstanding beauty (and manages to keep soaking more or less natural) and Agristro where historic references and easy access to the masses help, all other thermal sites are alike: all fishing in the pond of elderly and hopefully affluent customers. 
This pond isn't growing nor are there any new customers incoming for which a random soak can turn into a liftime of soaking commitment.
Too often these types of resorts are besieged with rules and advisory commands coupled with hefty fees for as much as breathing that any under fifty year old would flee the place.

With this in mind, any investor would be crazy to invest heavily in making this a ***** place. It costs a lot, competition is fierce, visitors incomes are dropping and the need to maintain standards year after year to keep the ***** status are heavy. 

Better is to start in reverse. Spruce the place up a bit, charge low entry fees and slowly and holistically expand on this. Tempt a younger crowd, in Europe there's hardly any competition / nor locally.

Look at for instance popular soaking destinations globally ...

Besides the hot springs, this lonely stretch of highway passes many a deserted sandy beach. Sometimes denoted as Ammolofoi beaches, Captain Barefoot even mentions that not so far away may even be a (legal?) clothing optional beach. Closer to either towns mentioned earlier there are even amenities on the beach during high season: what's a beach without loud music and even louder crowds?


A great soaker combo is to seek the mountains of Pangaio. Especially the village of Mesoropi lies well nestled between the mountains and has a well maintained path leading half way up the mountain to where the local stream gushes forth from a huge slab of rock (3 hours). Mesoropi is about half an hours drive away. Careful for the unbelievable steep streets!

Closer to the village the same stream has many a pond with waterfalls of varying height. A great way to start your day.

Besides beaches and mountains, Kavala region contains some other interesting touristic features. Kavala town itself is a very interesting place and perched neatly between the mountains, the sea and a big rock. A historic old town sits on a promontory jutting out into sea in the direction of island of Thassos. Before this is a broad waterfront. Connecting the old town and the mountainous hinterland is large aquaduct which cuts straight through the city.

Modern day Kavala from the town's castle.

Then towards Drama region (but still in Kavala) are the ancient ruins of Philippi: a Greek - Roman - Byzantine army complex. One of the best remains in northern Greece.

 Philippi amphitheatre

Closeby Philippi are the mud baths of Krinides (Krynides, ΚΡΗΝΙΔΕΣ) or sometimes referred to by Lydia. The website has much info, unfortunatly none accesible for google translate!

As opposed to Eleftheron, Krinides is apparently wonderfully run by the local council. These thermal mud baths are slowly becoming a major draw of themselves as they gain acceptance and acclamations for their first class mud. Do note that the thermality is not such that these can be enjoyed year round; when visiting here in May they were not opened. The mud bathing saeson is from June to mid-October.

From flickr site.
'The amazing qualities of mud are well known in the region since late 19th century at the latest, as demonstrates an old building still standing near the spas'. (source
'The therapeutic properties of Krinides mud were known from antiquity. There are uncountable tributes and testimonies that support the fact that the mud baths in Krinides can heal people from a number of ailmentssuch as chronic diseases and pain. The combination of therapeutic mud with the curative thermal water of the region of Krinides is the outcome of the geological diversity of the land that beneficially compensates its visitors in abundance'.
From Sojna on virtualtourist: 
'This is a very special experience and you should be prepared to surrender to the healing qualities of mother earth! The therapeutic clay of Krinides is well known by the end of last century, for its beneficial effects to the skin, as well as to almost all body systems. The clay is located in a natural cavity, in the plain of Plilippoi, where you are supposed to sink slowly, along with the other bathers, most of them of elderly age. Men and women bath separately and there is a very relaxed and pleasant atmosphere between the bathers. The rest of the facilities (dressing rooms, hot showers etc) are very clean and well-preserved and there is also a camping, hotel and rooms for accommodation.
The whole experience can be really pleasant for open-minded travelers, who wouldn’t mind taking a special and economical (if I am not wrong, it costs only 7 euros) spa treatment! Notice the little frogs that watch you curiously, while bathing!'
This German visitor [translated]:
'The whole thing costs almost nothing: The ticket prices in 2009 for the mud bath were around 6 euros per person. A massage is also affordable. Are you insured abroad, you can use your health insurance will get back the amount incurred possibly after consultation
On the edge of a natural bog pond is a low rise building. Are here - separately for men and women - housed changing rooms and showers. Even a doctor is present in an adjoining room, and can be called if necessary.The pond is also divided in the middle, a screen was protected from prying eyes.
To reiterate very clearly: You should not have special requirements here. Nothing of what you see here is, as in Germany in a comparable institution. But you will enjoy the old world charm of a historic site, hear the crickets chirping in the bath and gaze at the same mountains that has seen Alexander the Great about 2370 years ahead of you'.
More info on the very helpful Hotel Yannis. There are also a number of youtube video's of the mud baths.

[1] Erfurt-Cooper, P., Cooper, M. (2009) Health and Wellness Tourism: Spas and Hot Springs. Aspects of Tourism 40. Channel View Publications, Bristol, United Kingdom. 

A parting shot, another happy soaker (source):  
'Λουτρά Ελευθερών, 2010'

Euro soaks visited