I am from a strange part of the East Anglia, it is divided between those whom actually need a 4×4 to navigate the muddy backroads and the who buy lowered white Land Rovers, that have never seen a speck of mud. I am British I am accustomed to inclement weather and endless dog walks in the rain, that requires military layering up, before venturing out. I do not however expect rain in Alghero solidly for 2 weeks, the place I call home. My great friend Bridget, with whom I have weathered University storms, by drinking over- sized bowls of coffee and smoking more cigarettes than the Marlboro man, had touched down to escape the bite of a British winter.
After 4 long days of being captive “on holiday” it was time to head for the hills. We escaped the hammering rain and rather entertaining lightening and made our way toward Oristano and then to Gran Hotel Terme, Fordongianus (www.termesardegna.it).
The Hotel is based next to the mud banks and thermal waters used by those clever Romans, to soak away their problems and the hot volcanic mud has countless benefits, including easing stress and drawing out impurities. I am from the muddy Land Rover camp, so I was happy to be smothered in volcanic mud. We arrived at this hotel, which is out of the way and nestles in the green rolling hills of the countryside.The rooms were spacious and the large beds in both rooms were incredibly comfortable. The generous balcony had a small table and an ironic sun lounger, with views of the countryside. Even the air felt healthy.
I can honestly say that you have never experienced vulnerability until you have found your self in a room alone with a foreigner, a mud pump and wearing a pair of ill fitting paper pants.Its a strange situation and there are rooms after rooms carved into the hills, where one feels rather like the subject of a medical experiment. The staff were professional which was just as well, as I stood next to a high procedure table and the clinician pure hot mud onto the large plastic sheet on the bed, I was then asked to hop up and lie back into the mud. Once engulfed, the plastic wrapper was closed and I felt very like a seal trapped in a giant Quality Street. The clinician leaves the room and the warmth of the mud seems to seep into any aches and pains and the feeling is deliciously sublime. I managed block the first thought about quicksand and replace it with imagining tropical sunshine. I barely noticed the sound of the rain outside. The clinician arrives sometime later and has run thermal water into a sunken jacuzzi in the same room. It has also been pumped directly from the source. Then something happened that definitely didn’t happen in Roman times. the woman switched on a sort of human jet washer , while I stood in a shower cubicle and with deadly aim managed to free the hot mud and directed me to the jacuzzi. I am not sure if it was the fact I was no longer cowering in paper smalls from a woman with a noisy jet washer or because thermal water was so pleasant but for the next 15 minutes I felt most relaxed, I got out dried and had a lie down on the now mud free bed, until it was time t leave. Upstairs I enjoyed the thermal swimming pool, I could swim outside in the water that measured a minimum of 37 degrees and see the beautiful landscape beyond the pool perimeter.
Treatments at the hotel were fabulous, mainly because the staff were well trained, although few spoke any English. Like most of these places that focus one of my least favourite adjectives “Wellness,” there was a very healthy lunch available, although it was rather expensive. Had I had a car, I might have been tempted to venture out somewhere local.
There are few things I won’t try in the pursuit of relaxation, whether its rooftop yoga ( was disastrous due to an unsafe roof) , Guided Meditation ( I upset Buddhists by slapping dead the determined mosquitoes) or laughing yoga ( this became a quite frightening outpouring of hysteria,as the teacher resembled the utter picture of Victorian mania). I can honestly say however, that the mud treatment seemed to envelop a little bit of everything and of course being covered in mud, means you cant actually leave it you dislike the treatment. Thankfully I loved it. With my predilection for long baths and having tried everything from bathing in salt, epsom salts, essential oils, minerals and even tea, I should have known I was into a winner.