It was just under a year ago that Andrew and I had our first spa experience in Belgium. After a wonderfully relaxing day, we vowed that it would not be our last. In fact, The Grimbergen Spa has become a regular haunt for us. Usually initiated by Andrew, (although I admittedly don’t put up much objection), our spa trips have become a monthly ritual.
Last Sunday, we decided to branch out and go to the source (sorry, I couldn’t resist). We hopped in the car and headed to where it all began – Spa.
Belgians have been taking advantage of the mineral-rich water that has been burbling out of the Clementine spring since 1868. But the brand new Thermes de Spa complex is a far cry from a woodland waterfall.
When we stepped out of the changing rooms and into the main pool area, Andrew and I looked at each other and smiled – it was going to be a good day.
The pool itself is over 800 square metres. The water is heated to a comfortable 32 degrees and there are indoor and outdoor pools. Even in the chilly Belgian winter, the outdoor pool is warm and inviting (just don’t get out of the water until you are inside again!).
There are light currents that gently swirl you around the main pool and there are Jacuzzi jet seats to pummel the tension from your body. There are even water ‘canons’ that shoot water like a fire hose.
If you are up for a bit of exercise, there is one very strong current outside that you can swim against for a great workout. Just watch out for people being whisked along with the water.
Andrew and I spent hours floating in the pool and taking advantage of the massage jets. When we were sufficiently waterlogged we explored the complex to see what else was on offer.
First of all, you can take advantage of the deck chairs surrounding the pool. We had forgotten to bring books with us but the panoramic view of the city below was definitely worth a look.
I was partial to the sun lamps, where I could lay belly-up, like a lizard, and warm myself under the artificial light to beat those Belgian winter blues. (I’m already trying to figure out how I can rig one up in my house).
Upstairs we discovered the sauna and steam room. There are also three more baths – an additional Jacuzzi, a bath heated to 38 degrees and a cold bath at 20 degrees to cool off after the sauna.
The cold bath proved to be particularly entertaining. The initial shock of the cold takes your breath away but once you are in, it’s a great way to cool off. People would notice us casually sitting in the pool and without reading the temperature would step in and get a surprise.
If you need a break from all of this relaxing, you can relax even more in the quiet room. Here you can rest under Wood lights (ultraviolet light), listen to calming music and smell the aromatherapy.
By the end of our day at the Thermes, Andrew and I were rested and de-stressed. Not only that, but we had spent an entire day together, not just in the same room caught up in our own work, but talking and laughing and enjoying each other’s company. With no cell phones or computers, it’s the one place where we can tune the rest of the world out for a day and focus on ourselves.
Besides being a wonderfully indulgent way to spend a Sunday afternoon, I believe our spa trips help strengthen our marriage and give us time to unwind from the daily stress of expat (and real) life.