A cheap massage becomes water torture

I thought I’d found myself a real bargain when I got 70% off a massage in Coimbra through an online voucher site. I won’t be doing that again!

Never having been for a Vichy Duche and massage before, I imagined that I would be blasted by jets of water for a while and then given a massage. I like to be prepared for things so I took a spare pare of knickers and some moisturizer with me. I didn’t, however, take a swimsuit. It never occurred to me for a moment that the shower and the massage would happen at the same time.

A far more relaxing massage than mine!
Image courtesy of o5com http://www.flickr.com/photos/o5com/

It was only when the receptionist showed me to the changing area and pointed out the packets of hospital knickers for people like me who hadn’t brought a swimsuit that I realized I would not be alone and happily naked. Yet even at this point I thought, “Hey, ho, so be it”. Then she introduced me to André. It turned out that the young man fiddling about with the row of shower heads above a massage table was to be my masseur.

I opened the packets of disposable underwear, expecting one to be for the top and one for the bottom. Wrong. She’d given me two see-through paper g-strings. I tried one on, looked in the mirror and whisked it off again. I put my big black granny pants back on again – at least they covered some of my bum. I still had nothing to cover my top so I put on the robe and stepped out to the steamy massage area.

André held my hand and guided me to the table, making sure I didn’t slip on the wet floor. The water was already running so there seemed nothing else for it but take off my robe so it didn’t get wet when I sat on the massage table. As I sat there in my pants with my arms folded across my chest waiting for further instructions, the receptionist came through again, took one horrified look at me and rushed out to get me a towel to hide my breasts.

Feeling marginally more at ease, I lay down on the bench. Warm water sprinkled my chest, stomach and legs, a cool mist of back spray wet my face. André began to gently stroke my leg. With my eyes wide open and jaw clenched, I was far from relaxed. My arms were outside the reach of the showers and getting chilly. The piano music was jarring and distorted. André’s touch was pointlessly light.

I considered stopping the whole thing but instead just asked for the music to be turned down and the water temperature up. That helped a bit but each time André’s hands gently manipulated my flab I felt old and fat.

Once my front was ‘done’, I flopped and slopped over on the table like a massive jellyfish so that he could massage my back. Lying on my front with my face through the hole in the massage bench, it was hard to find a position that stopped the water from running up my nose.

Eventually, it was over. André handed me the robe which I gratefully wrapped myself in and retreated to the safety of the changing room. In my silly imagination I had expected there to be a hairdryer in the changing room but sadly, I was wrong about that, too. I left with wet hair, tense shoulders and absolutely no desire to repeat the experience.

Have you ever had a regrettable massage? Let me know in the comments.



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  1. I’ve been meaning to read this intriguingly titled post since it popped into my inbox a while ago. What a nightmare! You sound a lot like me: when faced with a potentially uncomfortable situation I become a staunch optimist when I should embrace realism. Undeterred by all instincts to the contrary, I jump in and hope for the best.

    I did once treat myself to a facial and was scalded by something that erupted in furious hissing bubbles, jets of hot steam and boiling drips. Luckily it was my thigh that suffered the burns and not my face.

    1. Author

      Should I be happy that I’m not alone in suffering in the name of beauty?! Sorry you had a rough time of it but you reminded me of the time I went for a facial in Tanzania.

      After spending days sweating on a beach, working on my tan, I was horrified when I opened my eyes after a fairly vigorous facial and discovered that they’d liberally plastered my freshly bronzed face with bleaching cream! It certainly highlighted the cultural differences for me 😀

      1. OMG!!! You win hands down! My experiences (and now yours) have left me convinced that the people in the beauty industry don’t really have a clue what they’re doing….

  2. I had a Vichy massage years ago at a spa somewhere in the north of Portugal, as well as other treatments, and quite enjoyed it. It was a lady masseuse and I was wearing a bikini, the music was soft, the water warm, and I really found it very relaxing. What a pity you had such a tense experience, at least they should have asked you to bring a costume with!

  3. I love Vichy Duche specially the warm water and the creams at the same time. I did it several times but always at Spas in resorts with springs like Monfortinho, Caldelas, Unhais da Serra (H2Otel). However I too have a tendency to get male masseurs, but in these resorts you can say you prefer females and they will change it. My worst experience was in Monfortinho when I decided to try the “Four hand Vichy duche” and i had 2 male masseurs, it was a very “strong” massage. When you do this with spring water at the end your skin it’s incredibly soft.

    1. Author

      Hi Fernanda, I’m glad you’ve had more fun with the Vichy Duche than I did! The four-handed one must feel very strange.

  4. Shame you did not enjoy the experience, a good massage in the appropriate environment can be lovely…. You may not have enjoyed but you made me smile and chuckle reading about it 🙂 x

    1. Author

      Yeah, it’s funny now but soooo not at the time. Right after that, I went to a cash machine and it ate my card for no reason. I was not a happy bunny that day! 🙂

  5. This sounds awful! I was once given a massage as a birthday present and hated the whole experience. I wasn’t comfortable with a stranger rubbing my body and didn’t feel any positive effects – like you I felt it was too light. Perhaps a real professional may make me change my mind but it’s just not my cup of tea.

    1. Author

      I have had some great massages over the years but I feel very vulnerable with a male masseur and the water part was no fun at all!

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