Monthly Archives: September 2012
This summer has been all work and little play. So with a little breathing space until I start writing again, we went for a Spa day. Slovakia is Spa-tastic, with hundreds dotted across the country, read an earlier post here. One of my favourites is Podhájska, a forty minute drive from Nitra. Me & Ján always try to get there once a month, although the last time we went was in February when there was snow on the ground.
Podhájska has become an interesting mix of the old and new. Ján’s mother can remember when it was just a huge pond hewn from the mud, where for a couple of Kronen you would jump in and soak your tired bones in the thermal waters (for the fact minded, Podhájska is unique in that its thermal waters have the same composition of minerals as the Dead Sea).
When I first came here in 2007 it was a little more stately, a giant steel lined pool with seats built into the edges. On the bitterly cold January day we gently swam through the hot murky water as snow twirled around our heads. Many of the men were drinking beer, resting their bottles on the icy crust around the pool, and a group of elderly ladies sung Slovak folk songs in a soft uplifting harmony whilst the snow settled on their shower caps.
After we were well and truly pruned – we went to the restaurant and got pickled. We drank shots of Slivovica (incredibly strong Plum brandy) and ate the most delicious roast duck. I fell in love with Podhájska there and then. However, during the last two years, something has been slowly taking shape in an old field next to the thermal pool. The churned up mud and scaffolding has yielded and a brand spanking new Wellness Center has appeared.
The day we went the temperature was nudging 35ºc and I didn’t fancy our usual splash in the hot pool, so we decided to treat ourselves to a day in the new space age Wellness Centre. I say space age- it’s silver, spherical and alien to the rest of the Spa.
Once inside you are ushered through a computerised entry system controlled by a little wristband. A rather excited lady, who might have been recently promoted from scraping mineral rust off the old pool, proudly showed us the touch screen locker system.
Once changed you walk under a fish tank in the ceiling where huge lethargic fish with collagen lips sway and stare, and into Bazénový Svet (pool world). This is a series of steel lined pools, with crystal clear thermal waters. There are whirlpools, fountains, seats which gently pump out massaging jets and bubbles, all under a huge curved wooden roof. The centrepiece is a waterfall which activates every half hour to the beat of an African drum. There is a Water Bar where alcohol can be drunk and paid for with a swipe of your wristband and outside is a posh version of the outdoor hot pool with a sauna, sun loungers and a Bio Pond surrounded by reeds where a special algae with skin healing properties tints the water green.
After splashing around happily for a couple of hours. We moved up to the next level of the space ship. Vitálny Svet -Vitality World. We walked under the fish tank, past the excitable woman and into a dark, quiet cave, tiled from floor to ceiling and lit with purples, greens and blues.
We had the place to ourselves as we tried out all the procedures. We darted through a tropical tunnel fuelled by jets of freezing/hot water.
A salt cave sprayed us with sea salt vapours – all the more impressive for a land-locked country. There was a swedish sauna, a bio sauna, a herbal steam room, a salt steam room -all wonderful- by my favourite by far was what I called the Pizza Oven.
It’s Slovak name is Vodné Peklo, which means Water Hell, but it was far from hellish. A low tiled igloo where a fine vapour descended from a domed ceiling whilst the water plinked and plunked where it met the walls. A column in the centre shot water out like a fire hydrant and every sound seemed to echo and circle endlessly as the lights changed colour.
It was a deeply relaxing hour. Just when I thought the Podhájska I know and love had vanished in the haze and steam we stumbled upon some heated loungers in a tiled alcove. Above the loungers was a little window and someone, I like to think a little old Slovak lady, had hung up a lace net curtain.
When we left the Wellness, we found ourselves firmly back on Slovak ground. In the restaurant I had spicy Ram Goulash with fried potatoes, Ján had Pork Schnitzel with melted cheese and salad. We washed it all down with tall glasses of Corgon Beer and finished off with home-made ice cream. Quite pleasantly undoing all of the healthy procedures we enjoyed in the Spa!
For more pictures and Podhájska Spa details visit HERE . Entry to the Wellness is an incredibly reasonable €17 for 3 hours (around £13.50)