It was time to say goodbye to Bellwald, get back in the tiny cable car and onto another train. This time we were headed to Leukerbad. Leukerbad is home to Europe’s largest thermal spa resort, which we thought would be a good idea for us to head to after a couple of days of long treks. Admittedly we had only done one hike through the Alps, after deciding against doing another to the Aletsch Glacier on account of Barry’s knees giving him ‘jip’ after the hike in Zermatt. In fact one knee had gotten so bad, we had to find a pharmacy to get him a support bandage. I suppose he is getting old now though!
The train from Bellwald to Leuk took just under an hour and a half and once in Leuk we had to get a bus up to Leukerbad. The journey was 14km of zig-zagging road, that took us up through the mountains and dangerously close to the cliff edge. The views, like much of this country, were spectacular. They started off with dozens of vineyards just inches from the road, then as we went higher we found ourselves looking down on the town of Leuk below and were surrounded by jagged peaks and waterfalls flowing through the crags in the rock face.
30 minutes later and we were in Leukerbad. As we walked to our hotel, we passed the public Thermal Spa, which was filled with parents and their kids. This was initially how we imagined we’d spend our time in Leukerbad – in an outdoor thermal pool with a backdrop of snow-covered mountains. Unfortunately there was no snow this time of year and there was no way we were going to share a pool with a bunch of noisy kids. Dreams shattered, we continued on to our hotel – The Volksheilbad and checked in. Fortunately, our hotel did have a spa connected to it and we had complimentary access to the thermal spa and sauna. Sweet!
Before checking out the spa, we thought we’d grab something to eat. Now I know Switzerland is bordered with Italy, but surely every restaurant doesn’t have to be Italian. It seemed like everywhere we went there were just restaurants serving pizza and pasta, so we settled with Giardino Pizzeria. We had a lovely 3-course meal with antipasti, pizza and prawn spaghetti, finished up with ice cream and caramel mousse.
We left it a while for our food to settle, and then we headed across to the spa. We started to have flashbacks of our time in Hot Springs Arkansas, when we treated ourselves to a go in the baths there. Barry is still slightly traumatised from his naked experience. I had read that some of the spas here did make you go completely nude, thankfully for us, this one allowed you to stay in your swimming gear. We got changed and went in. Every year about 3.9 million litres of thermal water flows from the springs into all the thermal pools in Leukerbad. The water reaches temperatures up to 51 degrees Celsius. It’s quite amazing to think that the water is naturally that hot. We spent some time just sitting enjoying the heat before turning on the jets and letting it massage our aching bones.
Next up Barry decided we should try out the sauna. I’ve never been a fan of saunas before. I find them too hot and just can’t relax but I thought I’d give it a go for him. After just a couple of minutes I’d had enough so we dried off and headed back to our room for the night.
The following morning we woke to a rainbow right outside our window. It had been raining through the night and the sun was just starting to shine. As a result there were waterfalls gushing down the mountains surrounding us. It made for a spectacular sight and a great finish to our Leukerbad experience.