A few months ago I had a chance to visit a cozy and original site called Herrankukkaro (“Mama’s Pocket”) built upon an old fishing village. It was located in the Turku archipelago in Southwest Finland and used mainly for business meetings and team building.
Herrankukkaro has put effort to their own sauna spa area because they want to cultivate the Finnish cultural sauna heritage. The spa has four different smoke saunas, including the world’s largest smoke sauna for up to 124 people!
The place is probably at its best in the summer time, but I think it had a special, almost magical atmosphere in the winter. During my stay the weather got cold extremely fast and I saw something impressive. I witnessed the sea freeze. Never seen that before!
Read more: Herrankukkaro
Pictures and text: Laura
Few times a year my two good old friends and I gather together to exchange news. Our program is always the same. First we meet each other in the Ateljee Bar Torni. This bar was founded in 1951 and it has an amazing view over Helsinki.
From the Ateljee Bar we move on to the Yrjönkatu Swimming hall. In my opinion it has the best saunas in Helsinki. There is an electric sauna, a steam sauna and a big wood-heated sauna (my favorite!). Usually we rent a small locker room to chat in peace.
Yrjönkatu Swimming hall has kept its original architectural spirit and it has served people of Helsinki since 1928. There are separate shifts for women and men. And don’t be surprised, customers may swim with or without a bathing suit.
After two hours of bathing we are ready for a dinner. Our next classic destination is the Cultural Restaurant Kosmos, a traditional meeting place for Finnish artists and journalists. In Kosmos time has stopped and you can still feel the original 1920’s atmosphere: white tablecloths, chandeliers and palm trees.
And you know, after sharing time with my beloved friends, enjoying a good sauna and tasty food, the world always looks brighter…
Ateljee Bar Torni
Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall
Fall is a perfect time for a weekend getaway. A few days in a different environment gives energy to get ready for winter. It is not necessary to travel far away to be rejuvenated, but there is a place I would love to visit. It’s a geothermal spa in Iceland called Blue Lagoon. My colleague Eva visited this place this year and she told me what a special place it was.
She and her husband stayed there one weekend bathing and relaxing. They enjoyed fresh drinks in the natural shaped outdoor pool and admired the beauty of stony lava fields. I asked her about saunas, but she said they didn’t even look for them because the water was so hot.
The warm waters are rich in minerals and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is said to help people suffering from skin problems. Eva told me that the spa has many kind of energizing treatments, but massage is the thing to try. It takes place in water!
Blue Lagoon Spa
Photo: Eva’s hubby
Last summer I had my first smoke sauna experience and I will never forget it. My friend invited me to her summer place with a beautiful dark smoke sauna. She had heated the sauna for several hours, almost the whole day, to get it ready for us. We arrived just in time to see how big logs you use for heating and how to get the smoke out of the sauna. Because that’s what you do before going in.
Inside the smoke sauna it is very dark and cozy, because you don’t have any big windows, only a very small window to get some light in. You can sense the existence of our ancestors and their life style: pure, simple and rough.
What I learnt is, never volunteer to be the first one to go to a smoke sauna. It is so hot. Even though the ladies went second, I was not able to sit on the sauna bench without a several times folded towel under my butt, and I had to dip in to the river every now and then to cool my skin.
But, after a while the heat became so smooth and gentle, and we spent several hours enjoying this very special way of sauna bathing.
Have a wonderful midsummer.
Laura & Kati
photo: Teija Soini, www.fotosoini.com
Last week I visited Saariselkä, one of the oldest and most known travel destinations in Finnish Lapland. I used to visit there every year when I was a kid, and that’s why it always has a special place in my heart.
The place has changed a lot since my childhood. It has become a big resort with all kinds of family activities. Despite all new attractions, Saariselkä has managed to keep its own restful atmosphere. It still has the best cross-country skiing conditions in Lapland.
I spent five days skiing, walking and enjoying surrounding nature and silence. After spending the whole day outdoors, I relaxed in a sauna we had in our cabin.
For the sauna lover Saariselkä is a great place to visit. Almost every cabin has its own sauna and there are public saunas and spas as well. The bravest ones can visit the famous smoke sauna situated in the Kiilopää Fell Centre. After a sauna and ice-swimming you definitely are able to leave your rush and worries in the wilderness!
Information about Saariselkä: saariselka.fi, gosaariselka.com
Photos: Laura, Mauri, Antti-Jussi and Kiilopää Fell Centre