I am still trying to figure out the excitement surrounding these "Baderhäuser" here in Zurich. There are bath houses all along the Zurichsee and Limmat River. We walk by them constantly, occasionally poking our heads in and around the trees to catch a glimpse of exactly why people come here. Instead of continuing this guessing game, we decided to join some friends and experience Seebad Enge first hand -- our neighborhood "Bad".
Let me try to set the scene a bit. We show up at the bath house, pay our 6 CHF and enter the co-ed bath. There is also a "Frauenbad" that is only for women on the other side, which is a whole other post that I will save for a rainy day (however, I am not sure those pictures are blog appropriate). We make our way in to see what big party awaits behind that concrete wall only to find people doing what you can do for free in the grass or on the pier right next to the bath house. I am being a bit harsh, but this only perked my curiosity more to figure why the obsession with these places.
There was a smaller semi-shaded area away from the lake, next to the bar that was lined with people. We luckily wedged in with some locals next to the bath. Notice how no one is actually in this water. Also another question of mine.
Everyone was either laying out, catching some rays or taking quick dips in the lake. After having a little glass of Prosecco, I finally had enough liquid courage to venture out into the water. I figure it is just one of those things you have to do when you are here. As I walked over to the edge, I realized that there could be no screaming. Swiss are so used to the water temps and it was so quiet in the bath house. I was just going to have to jump in fast and keep my mouth closed. I was literally in the water for maybe 45 seconds before I jumped back out. Let's just say it wasn't the warmest water I have ever been in. That's for sure. But, at least now I can say I did it.
I do have to admit it is a beautiful spot on the lake. Sailboats cruising around, kids riding the paddle boats, huge fountain in the background...not too shabby. I have also heard rumors about a sweet sauna over on the Frauenbad side that I may have to check out in the winter. Even though I jest a lot, this is something to experience at least once. It may not answer that underlying question of "Why?" and it may even stir up some new quandaries, still just something you have to do. My next experience with these baths is going to have to be at night someday soon before it gets too cold. Some of these bath houses turn into little clubs at night, all lit up with twinkly lights. Just another thing to add to the list.