Sunday, September 21, 2014

Just chill

To take oil
A two page feature in last weekends local newspaper of PZC (13 Sep.) focussed on the art of muddying up in Azerbaijan. Great, lets link up with the article.

But for some reason yet to be discovered, there's no link to the article itself at all. Wherever way I look it up, there's nothing to be found. Strange that in this day and age, articles don't end up on the net! 
Sigh, will have to do myself then.

Anyway, it's very much a photographic account of the former nomenclature in old-style wellness pursuit. Azerbaijan apparently is a haven for muck seekers. The article discusses the virtues of the oils of Naftalan and the salts of Düzlü Gol.  
Generally, after lathering up, a rinse is required and a float in the lake. Of course this is the prelude to an impromptu picnic, one where wodka flows freely. See here how one enjoys the mother earth ...

Concerning Naftalan, we learn is that there are apparently different kinds of oily mud, from red to black, each with their own characteristics: the redder is for psychological health, the black for physiological health. 

One link I did find was to a Russian language site on Naftalan which describes how beneficial an oil bath may well be. A better site, especially concerning the history of Naftalan, can be found here. Then there is this web site in English which starts off as so:
'The word Naftalan, can be traced to the Greek word "naphtha", meaning pertaining to oil, and the Azerbaijani suffix "-alan", which is of the verb "to take" (and literally meaning "oil buyer"). It is the center of a unique petroleum industry, with a grade of oil referred to as "Naftalan". While Naftalan crude oil is too heavy for normal export uses (unlike Azerbaijan's plentiful Caspian Sea oil), it contains about 50 percent naphthalene, a hydrocarbon that is the active ingredient in coal tar soaps, which are used to treat psoriasis. As such, it is only used for medicinal purposes. People using the oil generally sit in a bath and are covered in oil up to their necks'.
Though unique to Naftalan the last website also refers to the curios case of the Croatian cousin. The cousin notes:
'There are only two known deposits of naphthenic oil in the world: in Azerbaijan and in Ivanić-Grad'.
Back to the article. As the oil mud baths reek for days afterwards, Düzlü Gol, a different salt lake with less mud, has it's own band of followers. It's rated locally as just as good as the Dead Sea and seems to be solely popular for swimming: even poor swimmers won't drown. However, there's  precious little to be found on the internet, other than that it is close to Baku (source).

i miss this magic. #hotsprings #portugal #family

Arguably the center of Euro thermalism is Hungary, with the capital Budapest also presenting itself as the heart of the nations love of soaking.
Kathy Fritts has a nice write up (July 23). It starts off very promising:
'If you leave Budapest without soaking in a Hungarian thermal bath, you have cheated yourself of a memorable experience'. 
In the article she highlights her diverse experiences in Budapest but elsewhere in the world. 

#italy # hotsprings
but where? Somewhere in Toscana? Source
(It was Petiolo)

A different kind of experience is a description of a sophisticated up-scale soaking experience by Alessandra Catania (Aug. 16): 
'After having a nice welcome kit in my room, I was ready to enjoy my afternoon: first a water hot/cold massage at the Kneipp center, then a Roman Bath with hot and cold emotional showers (with lights that change colors every 10 seconds) and finally a scrub massage with Tauleto, a product line done with a red wine produced near Bologna.
Relax is my word for today, taking my time so slow and living my Dolce Vita, enjoying the nice talks with other customers.
The principle thermal swimming pool are always at the same temperature, 37°C, but even if it is hot outside, you enjoy the embrace of the water: first of all on your skin and second, much more deeply, on your muscles. A lot of athletes or sport lovers come here for their “remise en forme”.
In the Spa center, other than what I experimented, there are also some other things interesting for the braves: the Finnish sauna is a real one, with hot stones you can put water on and, outside, a real icefall and also a wooden bucket with frozen water. A real shock, believe me!
At the end, you can end your treatment in the second swimming pool, with a different thermal water. It’s not so salty as the first one but has different properties.
Terme of La Fratta became in these last years a true and common habit for a lot of people. On Saturday and Sunday hot springs are opened till late in the night and you can appreciate the evening, having your dinner in the fancy restaurant at the first floor and then relaxing in the waters'.
A more down to earth experience. This blog entry by Bz's Travels and Rambles (Aug. 26) notes Sicily, but where are we? It's between Thailand and Rome entries and the tale indeed rambles on and on. But I do notice this part: 
'Next, nervous night we set out to hot spring where I’m told naked is the way to go. Main spot is crowded by stupid loud Italians partying, generator and music in this quiet ancient place. Highly valued by Romans for the hot water. We continue along path, find private area where 2 girls and 3 guys are hanging totally naked.  They invite us over for weekend dinner, and drink wine until they leave'. 
But still none the wiser where this may be ...

Condé Nast (Jul. 23) has a photographic overview of what they believe Italy's Amzaing Hidden Hot Springs.

Sascha's soaks
Strotzbüsch - Southern Eifel, Germany
This is not a hot spring but only a warm spring of 19°C. However, the water contains a lot of minerals and tastes salty. Locals say, that drinking the water guarantees a long life. The quality of the water should be better than the thermal water in Bad Bertrich, which is 10 km away (with commercial pools and treatments). There is a little pool nearby the river but it seems dirty and not suitable for soaking.

This situation required for a solution, because the surrounding is really lovely: in the middle of the nature with no cars and streets around, that’s hard to find in Germany. You can find the solution of the problem on picture 8: a self constructed mobile pool that heats the water up to one’s personal favorite temperature (I brought it up to 45°C on a cold spring day and it was heaven!). The water is heated by a “Chofu” heater with gas. I found this strange thing in the internet, unfortunately, the Japanese firm does not produce it anymore. But there are some distributors in the US who still sell them (there is also a version that heats with wood). This was quite a lot of work and preparation for a soak, but absolutely worth it. Although the hot tub is not beautiful, it conserves very well the temperature. (It also works with sea water, this will be the next project).
No evaluation, because no real hot spring. External link from Strotzbüsch Ortsgemeinde.

Just chill by the falls #pozar #thermalspring #greece #waterfall #relax

A short article plus a video with the mayor of Lamia (central Greece) revealing that the rustic and free-to-use hot springs of Kallidromos are on the line to be developed, alas. The reason for the change is that the hot spring has now fallen into the hands of the municipality ...

It's a pity that the few remaining wilder soaks in Europe continue to be lined up for development. In previous updates we reported on how developed hot springs in Greece (and southern Europe) were in dire straits as they failed to adapt their businesses from medical tourism to wellness inspired. Therefore handing out carte blanche to private business need not be the panacea for presumed economic ills. Rather cherishing what one has and possibly regulating use is what is required. Private business may well generate some jobs, but usually they will cut out local use and focus on the wealthy.

Flock not
What is happening in the Icelandic affairs section?

A cheeky soak at Hrunulaug. Source

Iceland translates it's geothermal attractivity into inbound tourist numbers. From Iceland Review (July 31):
'Landowners at the natural pool Hrunalaug in South Iceland are overwhelmed by the large number of tourists that flock to the pool every day. The visitors’ conduct is often poor and the land has started to show signs of irreparable damage, reports.
Eiríkur Steindórsson, the owner of the land, says that tourism had increased steadily since the pool ended up in a travel guide about five years ago. Now there is hardly any guidebook on Iceland in circulation that does not mention the pool.
This year the pool has been more popular than ever with travelers, and about 200 of them visit it every day'.
It continues on how tourists are literally taking everything apart while leaving the owner's family to pick up the pieces. The solution would be to charge the tourists or close the area, neither a preferred option. But whatever would be a solution, it's just too late to pray for common sense.
The article continues on how walking tracks to the geothermal Reykjaladur valley are been worn out as well as tourists trashing the place.
Today I went hiking and then sat in a naturally hot river... emojiemoji #standard #summer #iceland #ilovethiscountry
Another tourist trashing Reykjaladur? Hope not. Source

More soaking issues from Iceland Review (August 20):
'Q: I have a question about natural hot springs in Iceland (we’re planning a hiking tour). A friend went to Iceland several years ago and reported that bathing in natural hot springs is no longer recommended due to cases of swimmer’s itch (bird/snail parasites in fresh water).
A: The protists that cause swimmer’s itch were first discovered in a natural hot spring in Iceland in Landmannalaugar about a decade ago. At that time, the Directorate of Health issued a warning, advising people to avoid natural hot springs, particularly late in the year, from August to December or so, as the warm water attracts birds, the hosts of the adult protists, during those months before they migrate south for the winter.
Many people still enjoy bathing in hot springs, and there is no regulation banning people from swimming there. People are advised against touching vegetation in the water as water snails, the hosts of the immature protists that cause the actual rash, hide there. It is not recommended that those who generally have severe allergic reactions to insect bites, such as mosquito bites, bathe in the springs'.
Hamam business. 
  • Is this European? Culturally one would be inclined to think so. 
  • Geographically, it's on the edge. 
  • Soakingwise? Well, soaking is also about culture, about de-stressing, about heat.
Personally I've visited a few hammams in Morocco, wasn't really flabbergasted by the experience back then, but it certainly was something different. The ever popular Travelettes blog (Sep. 19) has an entry on their experience with Moroccan hammams:
'“If I’m going to do it, then I want to do it right: the traditional way,” I told him – imagining golden water taps, oriental background music and massage oils smelling of roses. I had no idea that something totally different would be waiting for me…'.
What follows is a  lengthy expose of all kinds of unexpected experiences but ends with some smooth skin: an experience worth it.
En las Termas de Yesa. Año 2005. Tiene que estar el nivel del pantano muy bajo en verano para que aparezcan las Termas #bestplace #mountains #mountain_life #mendiak #montaña #365imagenes #snapseed #pirineos #pyrenees #natural_beauty #nature #naturaleza #navarra #aragon #traveller #travel #love_nature #termas #tiermas #spa
The parting shot from Spain. Source

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