Allow me to introduce you to one of the most wonderful places in the world - Therme Erding. It's a "Thermenparadies" - what I would call a "water park" - on the outskirts of Munich.
Getting there requires a bit of bravery, or faith, or confidence in your information. You take a long train ride to an empty outdoor platform, and find yourself in a purely residential suburb. A tiny sign at the edge of the station guides you past houses and over a highway, and another steers you onto this remote path, past forests and through fields. If there's a nowhere in Germany, this is the middle of it. If this is your first trip, this is the part where you start wondering if the webpage was real - especially if you don't speak German. If you've coaxed a bunch of people into going with you, this is the part where they start wondering if you're crazy.
But suddenly you come across it - jewel-like on a cold, dark night. (Always at night, because it's open long after the museums close.) You stumble across a parking lot, hand in the "kombi-ticket" you managed to purchase at the train station, and change into a swimsuit (or nothing, depending).
And then you find this. A giant, warm room with a giant, warm pool, decorated with fake rocks and tropical plants. There's a "lazy river" section where you can play in the current, a fake cave to play in, and a huge collection of bubble loungers and massage jets. There's a sauna section, with baths from all over the world replicated. And then there's the bar - a swim-up bar, so you don't ever have to leave the wonderful warm water to get your daiquiris and coladas. Can it get better than this?
Yes, because the whole thing is fueled by a hot spring, so there's warm water to spare. This means the outdoor part of the pool is open all year - something I've never seen before. You can float on your back, enjoying the crisp winter stars, and watching snowflakes fall, but not quite make it through the steam to you. There's even a separate tub of unfiltered water, so you can get the health benefits of all the minerals - and the outdoor trip from one pool to the other makes the warm water that much more enjoyable.
I discovered Therme Erding on my first trip to Munich, and took a group of students the second time around. They'd spent the day walking through the snow from one museum to another, then I showed them hot water and daiquiris. But I spent the train ride talking about hot springs, public bathing, and oil - so was sort of educational.
At this point you're wondering what this may have to do with knitting. Well, I'm wearing Sam's socks today. They're "snow owl in the window" socks, and this is probably the last day we'll have snow for awhile, so I thought they'd better come out to visit it.
Still don't see the connection? When Sam designed the socks, she thought the German word for the pattern meant "owl" - so planned this snow owl scheme. Once they were finished, she found out the pattern name really meant "window". But we're sticking with owls, anyway.
So why the Thermenparadies? Because the walk out there, through the fields and past the forest, was the first time I've ever heard owls in the wild. I could actually hear them, up in the trees. I thought this was a pretty cool selling point for the whole visit - hot springs and owls! How often do you get to hear wild owls? I was really excited.
Aaron thinks I'm a hopeless city girl. But the snow owl socks that aren't about owls reminded me of the trip.