Steady as she goes. Too much thrust and she’ll start to list.
Gingerly I navigate my breakfast vessel to the harbour of the railing, bracing her against the wake of a swimmer that threatens to capsize her, the glass of champagne teetering on its stem like an elegant, drunken lady on too high heels.
It’s a warm and sunny, Sunday morning in June and I’m shoulder deep in the hot waters of Leukerbad Therme, my breakfast of croissant, smoked salmon and champagne floating on a wooden tray before me. As extraordinary and extravagant a sight as I and my companions must make as we bob on the water, battling the inevitability of wet rye bread, it is surpassed in its surrealism by the sight of a large wooden table bedecked with bottles of champagne, plates of smoked salmon and pate on rye, and a decorative candelabra illuminated by tea lights being lowered into the water and set adrift to float amongst us.
Never was a breakfast buffet so eloquently, or precariously, presented.
In Leukerbad, in the heart of Switzerland’s Alpine Valaise, the water emerges from hot springs at a temperature of 51°C turning the town fountain into a steaming cauldron as we stroll from the Hotel Grichting-Badnerhof to the thermal baths, the largest in Switzerland. Basking beneath the imposing presence of the Gemmi, Leukerbad is a fitting host for this mountainous gift of perpetual bath water, its narrow streets lined with wooden faced chalets and neat window boxes festooned with scarlet geraniums. On wooden terraces, summer walkers are enjoying a more conventional dining room as they partake of breakfast before tackling the glorious challenge of the Gemmi Pass that zigzags its way up the mountainside at what appears from base camp to be a near vertical angle.
Diluted by cold water, the temperature of the spring water in the breakfast pool is a toe tingling delight as, breakfast consumed, I make my way to the line of water jets that rise incrementally from calf to shoulder blade. Like shipwrecked Pavlov’s dogs, my bathing companions and I move from jet to jet at the sound of a bell until finally, muscles pummelled into submission, I leave the pool and make my way upstairs to the open air baths. Beneath the gaze of the snow clad peaks and amidst columns of steam rising from the plumes of jacuzzis I continue my leisurely bathing until the skin on my finger tips looks like spaghettini and tells me its time to leave.
One Sunday every month the Leukerbad Therme serves a champagne breakfast on wooden trays to bathers. Try it, it’s deliciously decadent. Well, it certainly floats my boat.
Buzztrips visited Leukerbad and the Therme as part of the Swiss Grand Tour celebrating the 150th anniversary of tourism in Switzerland and was a guest of Switzerland Tourism and Inntravel. Top photo courtesy of Peter Williamson at Inntravel.
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+