Thursday, March 20, 2008

18 November: An Impromptu Hike & My First Facial

I rolled out of bed sometime after 9:00 and made it down to breakfast around 10. Some people had already left for their morning treatments, but there was a table full of IWC women still lingering over breakfast. We enjoyed the elaborate buffet (complete with crêpes!) and then I got to talking with Brenda and Katrina. They were done with their treatments and had the day to themselves, so we all decided to go for a walk together. Brenda had gotten a map of the town from the reception desk along with some rather vague directions for how to get to Kloster Limberg, a nearby monastery, so we decided to go in search of it.

We set off through town, which turned out to be quite a nice place, with a quaint shopping district and quiet residential streets. We saw a sign for Kloster Limberg and started heading up a steep road out of town, but there was no sign of the monastery. Finally we spotted a ruined tower looming on a hill in the distance, but we assumed that it was the castle, which the woman at the reception desk had also mentioned to Brenda. We continued up the road and passed another sign for the monastery. We finally realized that what we were looking at was indeed the ruined remains of Kloster Limberg, but we were separated from it by a deep valley and there was no way we were going to make it all the way over and back. We settled on walking up the road as far as a little clearing, where we found a picnic table with a nice view of the monastery, and took some photos. It looked like quite an amazing place and I wished that we had had more time to explore it. We turned around and retraced our steps back to town, having walked for a good two hours!

We ran into Anne and Shannon on the way back and ended up having lunch with them along with Marina, Gail, and Rosalie at a quaint little Weinstube in town (photo, right). The Sunday menu was written on a small chalkboard that we passed around, and we were waited on by a quintessentially German Frau who put up patiently with our limited German. I had a delicious salad topped with roast duck that really hit the spot. By this point it was almost time for my facial, so I had to hurry back to the hotel. I had arranged to keep my room for a late check-out, so I went upstairs and finished packing up my things before heading up to the spa. I was shown into the same room that I had been in for my back massage, except that this time the table was converted into a lounge chair. I put on a robe and settled in for my 90 minutes of indulgence: a gentle cleansing and a facial massage followed by a steam bath (which basically involves having hot steam blown on your face for twenty minutes with damp pads over your eyes), and then a crème mask was applied and left on for half an hour or so. This was all very relaxing except for the fact that the steam bath was a little too hot and I had to reach up and adjust the sprayers or else I might have suffered a burn (as it was, my neck was bright red afterwards!). They were also playing an awful collection of 80s pop hits that had been terribly morphed into “soothing” spa music. Just as I was finally drifting off, the spa attendant came in and removed the mask. By the end of it I was satisfied, but not overwhelmingly thrilled with my first spa experience!

I picked up my luggage from my room and went downstairs to the lobby, where the last members of the group were assembled. We shared a few thoughts about the weekend and were pretty much in agreement that next time they should try to find a dedicated spa hotel – perhaps in a true spa destination like Baden-Baden. The difficulty lies in finding a place relatively close to Stuttgart that isn’t too expensive and will allow a one-night stay on a weekend. I suggested to Anne that she contact some of the hotels that normally have a two-night minimum and try to work out a deal with them, since the IWC could promise to fill 10-15 rooms.

I met up with Brenda, Sibylle, and Gerlinde and we loaded our things into the E-Class. Before heading back to Stuttgart, we drove up the road a few miles to the castle to get a quick look at the ruins. It was almost dark so my photos don’t do it justice, but it looked like another atmospheric ruin, ripe for exploration. Night was falling as we headed onto the Autobahn, and we got home a little after 7:00. All in all, it was a fun-filled weekend with the girls and I would not have missed it for the world!

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