Saturday, September 14, 2013

Ischia: Giardini Poseidon

One of the thermal bath pools at Poseidon
One of the main attractions in Ischia is the thermal baths. I have a hard time imagining Americans taking this activity to heart as Europeans and Asians do, but it is a thriving business here. I opted to go to one of the large thermal bath parks on the island, called Poseidon Thermal Gardens. It's located south of Forio, in the bay of Citara on the southwest side of the island.

Showers for cooling/cleaning
The park takes advantage of the natural hot springs, and visitors are able to use 22 different swimming and bathing pools, each with their own different temperatures. It's run by Germans, which seems to take a different tone: more rules and regulations than their Italian counterparts, to keep things clean and running smoothly. All visitors must wear bathing caps in the pools, and no children under 12 are allowed. In addition, cell phones must be kept in silent mode. The result? A tranquil, relaxing environment. 

A mosaic of Poseidon
At Poseidon, one can spend the day in the park for 30 euros; for half a day, the discount is minimal. I had a 10% discount from the B&B, so I opted for the full day, though I only stayed about 5 hours. I heard Italian, German and several Scandinavian languages while I was there, but no English.

The Kneipp pools: the larger one is 40 degrees, the smaller one is 15 degrees. YOW!
From Ischia Review:
"The contrast in temperatures is most sharply felt at the Kneipp baths where you have a 15 degree pool next to a 40 degree pool. The idea is to spend up to 15 seconds in the extremely cold 15 degree pool before the welcome relief of the 40 degree pool next to it, a hydrotherapy system devised by the German priest, Sebastien Kneipp, from which the name derives.  Among the more unusual of the pools is the Japanese pool where you undergo a hot and cold hydrotherapy treatment. Using similar principles to the Kneipp baths, in the Japanese pool you walk alternately through very hot and very cold troughs with pebbles at the bottom which massage your feet."

Darn it, but I missed the Japanese pool! I tried all the other bathing pools, but didn't use the Turkish bath (steam) or the sauna that was available. I also didn't try the swimming pools, as I spent much of the summer in the swimming pool at home, so preferred to swim in the sea at Poseidon. For me, that was the best part of the day.

This gives you some idea of the surrounding scenery
I was pretty worn out when I left at 4 p.m., and still had a 30-minute bus ride back to Ischia Ponte. There's another large thermal park called Negombo that has a similar cost and variety of pools, but I decided to save that for another time. Instead, I wanted to spend more time hanging out on the free beaches near the B&B in Ischia Ponte.

Poseidon's private beach. This was heavenly!
There are a variety of other thermal baths on the island, and some expensive spas. In fact, there are over 100 thermal springs, so there's much more to explore! 

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