Tag Archives: bathing culture

Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Blue Lagoon Spa in Iceland

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

– Laura

Photo: Eva’s hubby

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Extreme sauna experience – smoke sauna

Finnish Smoke Sauna

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

text: Kati

photo: Teija Soini, www.fotosoini.com


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Turkish bath in Istanbul

Turkish bath in Istanbul

It was different this time in many ways, a new place to visit and experience. While walking around historical places we started to long for Christmas traditions and ended up in a hamami, a Turkish bath.

First, you chose what you wanted from the hamami, just sauna, scrub or massage or a mixture of these. We chose all three.Men and women went to different sides, me and my daughter were guided to our private dressing room. We left our clothes and belongings there, put on the linen towel and wooden slippers, and  locked the door.

We were then  guided to a huge steam room, where it is easy to breathe, they asked us to sit down on some marble steps and started watering ourselves with a small pail for a while. Then a body builder looking female came and asked us to lay down on a huge marble table in the middle of the steam room. Towel off, the scrubbing started, she did her job very well; everything was washed well with a rough linen cloth and soap, hair was shampooed, skulls were  massaged  and even ears  were washed, which was surprising. Then it was time for the  massages; they were very different, but nice.

We  felt very relaxed and clean, the atmosphere was nice and quiet, and you could tell that those stone and marble walls had seen a lot. Then we went back to our dressing room and took our time to enjoy the moment and relax. Afterwards, we drank some freshly pressed pomegranate juice; it was perfect and  a very good start to our Christmas Eve.

If you go to Istanbul, you have to have this kind of experience. There are hundreds of hamami’s there, but I highly recommend the one we visited: www.cagalogluhamami.com.tr

Turkish sauna slippers

Author and pictures: Anne

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Sauna in Geneva

Sauna in Geneve

Our friend Anne lives in beautiful Geneva and we are happy to welcome her as our new sauna correspondent in Switzerland!

Anne’s sauna greetings from Geneva

There is a sauna and massage place in the middle of Geneva, on the South end of Lake Geneva. The location couldn’t be any better, and the views are amazing.

There seem to be a lot of people using these facilities on a weekly basis; On the way to the pier you can see people walking with their towels towards the saunas. What is even more amazing is the fact that people swim in the really cold water, some have their swimming suits on, some are naked. It’s like Finland!

There is a restaurant next to it, so after sauna a French onion soup or quiche lorraine with a glass of wine tastes really good.  No sausages are available. I’m very happy to see this kind of sauna culture here in the middle of Europe!

Bains des Paquis

Sauna view

Sauna in Geneva

Sauna view in Geneva

Author and photos: Anne

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Visiting Russian Banya

Russian sauna, Banya
We Finns are not the only ones who love sauna. Here in New York we have found many different kinds of sauna cultures from all over the world. One of the liveliest comes from Russia.

There are several popular Russian saunas, banyas, in Manhattan. We visited one of them, situated in the heart of  the hectic financial district. The Wall Street Bath & Spa offers different kinds of saunas, from steam to red-hot wood-heated saunas to relax. Their pride is an authentic Russian sauna room with a stove made with 16 tons of rock.

This Banya is not fancy and it seems to be a homey meeting place for Russian immigrants far away from home. There is friendly chatting going on in the spa restaurant as well as in the relaxing area next to a big swimming pool.  There is no rush and we could easily spend hours there.

Later we heard that 90 percent of Banya customers are other than Russians. In fact, many New York Finns are regular Russian sauna goers. It looks like that Banya offers us the most traditional sauna experience we can have in New York.

Russians baths in New York

Authors: Kati & Laura
Photo: The Wall Street Bath & Spa 

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