Thursday, August 4, 2016

Lake Vouliagmeni

Once we were mostly over our colds, we decided that we should go out and do something fun. We chose to go to Lake Vouliagmeni, which is a natural thermal lake, fed by underground currents of brackish water. It has a temperature of about 24 degrees C (~75 F) year-round. When we went it was closer to about 80F. Jane and Phil had heard about this lake from a friend, and it was on my "Things I Must Do Before I Leave" list. 
The water in the lake is said to have healing properties, due to the mineral content, so it is used as a spa. You have to pay to get in, but the ticket is good for the whole day; as long as you keep it you can go in and out at your leisure. There is a deck built all around the edge of the lake, and there are lounge chairs and tables set up all over the deck. We got there early enough that we were able to find a really nice spot with not too much shade and not too much sun. There is a restaurant and bar, and there are servers who walk around so you can order food and eat it lakeside if you don't feel like leaving your lounge chair.
The very best part of the lake is that it is filled with Garra Rufa, a.k.a., Doctor Fish! These fish are used in spas around the world (not in the U.S.) because they like to nibble at dead skin. It has been claimed that they help alleviate the symptoms of different skin conditions, such as psoriasis. I can't think of any words that can properly describe the feeling of being nibbled on by hundreds of fish, but to quote Phil, "It's almost unbearable." It doesn't hurt by any means, but it is such an intense tickly feeling that we all agreed it could be used as a method of torture. I know that makes it sound bad, but once you get past the excruciating initial moments, it is actually incredibly relaxing!

The view from our spot
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I very highly recommend adding Lake Vouliagmeni to your to-do list if you find yourself in Athens.

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