Tuesday, February 4, 2014

2-1-14 Day 16 Ourense

Today we get to experience our very first thermal hot springs! We are leaving with Katie, her friend Alex who is also an American teaching English from Los Angeles and her Spanish friend Ana who is driving us. The four of us take a bus to meet Ana in Baiyona where she lives, a very beautiful port city Southwest of Vigo, and the landing spot for Columbus' ship when he returned from the new world. Now that the five of us were together it was time to head Northeast to Ourense, a beautiful small riverside city with a plethora of hot springs. After a few wrong turns we arrived near the hot springs, some of them are public and free while others are private and you pay for the use of them. We walked into a private one first to enquire, 4 euros for 1.5 hours of time ending with a shower. We decided to check out another one and parked in the lot on the side opposite of the river. 
The first public hot springs were right next to the river, unfortunately it is still winter in Galicia, Spain and that means a bit of rain leading to some river expansion...or flooding, or completely devouring of these hot spring areas. When the thermal bath was first pointed out to me I didn't quite understand, then a moment later I got it...oh this hot spring is out of commission for awhile. 
Cruising along the river a bit further we found a public hot spring that was only partially flooded, one of four pools submerged under the river Minho. We weighed our options and decided we could start with the free public spring and move to the paid one and end with a shower later. The free public baths were much nicer than we expected and the water a perfect temperature. 
We slipped into the warm waters and enjoyed some relaxation time. The sun was shining, uncommon for this time of year and the conversation was flowing, Ana helped us with our Spanish a bit and eventually the pesky clouds began to hover over our tranquil riverside pools. Wincing at the first drops, we quickly came to the realization that the soft rain actually felt amazing in the hot pools. How perfect the water is great when it rains, great when it shines, just great all around with a gentle sulpheric scent reminding us how awesome nature can be. Looking at our fingers and toes we realized that the FOUR HOURS we spent in the waters were making us a but pruny, but mostly our tummies were getting a bit growly, expediting our decision to exit the public thermal spa in search of food. 
We settled on the closest easiest option, eating at the private thermal bath only a skip hop and a jump away. Before dinner we happened to peak over the balcony at the thermal baths...an oasis awaiting we quickly decided it was well worth the 5.5 euros for 2 hours. Hard to believe how long we stayed in the free bath when this was so beautiful and close! With cascading back massaging waterfalls, jets galore a variety of temperatures including cold pools that would shock and tingle the body upon reentering the hot pools. The smell of sulphur was much stronger here and our skin felt silky smooth with the restorative waters. After four hours in the public pools we happily spent another 2 hours in the private resort running from pool to pool to experience the different temperatures, jets, waterfalls and relaxation areas. Feeling infinitely relaxed we left Ourense to head home to Vigo, and grab a nightcap. 

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