Sunday, 16 May 2010

One of the most energising things about being an expat (although I do realise, obviously, that this view may well change over the years) is that friends and family who visit are naturally in holiday mood. So, whatever the weather, you really have to make the most of things (I don't know about you, but I would find it extremely hard to admit that I'd ended up in the lowest trough of the universe with nowhere else to go but cabbage fields or whatever...).

This was brought home to me by my auntie's visit last week. The weather for May was, to put it mildly, absolutely appalling. The sort of weather where, left to your own devices, you head back to bed and hide under the duvet until things sort themselves out a bit better. HORRIBLE!

However, café life, as usually lived in this city, was definitely not a goer unless you really fancied being laid low by pneumonia. We'd visited quite a few museums, but the one that interested us most was closed for restoration. We therefore decided to visit the spa in Wiesbaden.

Well, OK, I decided. Hadn't been there before, and it looked fabulous. Beautifully restored, originally Roman (Irish-Roman, said the translated leaflet; Celtic, perhaps, thought I, but for once decided not to quibble). I'd fancied visiting for a while, but not on my own.

It was indeed wonderful. Full points to my auntie for blenching only slightly when informed of the compulsory public nudity (on health grounds). And I thank her from the bottom of my heart for the glorious sight of her face when dared to lower herself into the freezing plunge pool... Given a little warning, I managed to compose my features into something approaching pleasure when doing the same, which was probably not fair, but rather amused me...

There are good grounds for trying to do this whether you're an expat or not (for those interested in the philosophical underpinning, Alain de Botton's The Art of Travel is a great read), but I think it's easier to do if you're on strange ground to begin with. I am very grateful for this opportunity!

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