Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hot! Hot! Hot!

Before I begin the next rant, I mean blog entry, let me draw your attention to a few things.

First, if you are not reading the other blogs under the heading "More Ways to Waste Time (But Worth It, I Swear!)" in the column on the right side of this page, you should. There's some very funny stuff there, as well as Russian stuff that waxes more political than I do. Worth looking at anyhow.

One I found particularly amusing today is not in that list, but on another list of blogs I follow (note to Carbo and Troy: that's where your blogs went. When you start posting again regularly, I'll move you back into public view). Go here to read an amusing post from a woman who recently returned to the UK after time spent in Russia. If you haven't spent a year here recently, you might not get the chuckle out of it that I did. But maybe you will.

Another funny website is this one. I was handed a brochure for this outside the Metro the other day. You don't need to read Russian to look around and get the general idea. I think the site name translates as "Tasty Bouquet." Remember: $100US = approximately 3100 rubles.

But back to our topic.

I have yet to venture into a proper Russian banya. But, being of Finnish origins, not only am I familiar with the sauna concept, but I know how to pronounce it properly (or at least Finnish-ly). I have been in proper Finnish saunas in northern Minnesota, where we braved leech-infested waters when we plunged into the lake. I have spent time with Slovak friends in their saunas.

I always sit on the top shelf.

In Moscow, I hear foreigners being advised "DON"T SIT ON THE TOP SHELF!!!!!"

Pish-posh, I have always said. Yeah, it's warmer up there. It's supposed to be warmer up there. I'm in the sauna to sweat.

My gym has what I would call a traditional (dry) sauna. It's the kind where you lie on benches of varying heights after having tossed ladles full of water onto the stones.

There is also a wet or steam sauna. I have NO idea how this works, although I do venture in from time to time. Today there were actually other women there, so I tried to observe what the procedure was without seeming pervy. But if you have tips for me on this, PLEASE write me a note in the Comments. Because I feel like I might be missing something vital here.

Anyhow, today the gym was kinda hopping, and I found I was not alone in the saunas. I was stretched out on the top shelf of the dry sauna, having tossed my couple of ladles of water on the stones, exfoliating, and minding my own business, when another woman joined me.

"Do you mind if I add some water to the heater?" she asked me. Okay, I cannot swear this was exactly what she said, but I knew this was what she meant.

"Da! Da! Da!" I said. Knock yourself out. I have Finnish blood. Better nobody than a Finn! Sisu!

She then proceeded to pour the entire contents of the water bucket onto the heated stones.

Oh. My. God.

Scorching steam filled the space.

I had been lying on my back with one knee bent so that I could scrape at myself with my loofah, but the freaking WALL OF FIRE caused me to flatten my leg ASAP.

My nipples began to burn. And not in a sexy way. I had to put my hands over my boobs to keep the skin from peeling off.

Add to this mixture a certain North American foolish pride ("Hot? You call this hot? I laugh at your heat."), but I felt like I could not run screaming from the sauna for the safety of the icy plunge pool.

So I just laid there.

Sweat ran off me in rivers.

My thighs, when I finally ventured out into the light of the dressing room and hurled myself into the freezing water of the plunge pool (how do they keep that water so wonderfully cold?), were mottled red and white like a finely marbled cut of steak. I hope the furnace was melting the fat in my thighs. It was melting the fat in my thighs, right?

So I claim total ignorance. I throw myself on the mercy and wisdom of my Russian readers. Was there anything else I need to know about surviving the inferno of the Russian dry sauna?

And what the heck goes on in the steam sauna? It's all wet in there. You don't actually expect that I will sit on the marble benches in there, do you? Lady parts on naked marble. I mean, that's got to be a veritable petri dish for unwanted bacteria, right? I see some people with towels, some people with the cotton sheets. And some people seem to plop down buck nekkid. And how long am I supposed to sit in there?

All advice is both solicited and appreciated. Go ahead: make my day.

10 comments:

Margarita said...

One question - do you think those "tasty bouquet" are too expensive?
(Yes, translation is correct)

There is not much I know about banya unfortunately. One there is no marble benches, there are wooden benches :).

Tina in CT said...

I don't know anything about banyas but since I HATE to sweat, I'll never venture into one.

Sitting on seats that unknown bare bottoms have sat on would give me the creeps. I'd keep the big town over my torso.

valentina said...

EEeeewwww! xov

The Expatresse said...

Margarita: I thought the Tasty Bouquet products were rather expensive. But I think real flowers in Moscow are EXTREMELY expensive. But I was spoiled by my time in Miami . . . worked near the airport and had a guy who bought from the wholesalers and came around to the office every Friday. For $40 I could get a couple dozen roses and a bunch of other stuff.

The Flip Side. . .Or Maybe Not said...

OMG! I am having a good laugh with this one! Bravo to you! I absolutely hate the sauna. Sitting in a sweltering hot room while beating oneself with a birch branch, then eating a sausage, just isn't my cup of tea. I won't even go into the naked bits or roll in the snow/jump into a lake thing after.

The Flip Side. . .Or Maybe Not said...

btw, whats the weather like in Moscow mid-July? Is it like Helsinki?

The Expatresse said...

I feel cheated: I didn't even get a sausage.

Weather here today: 23C. Partly cloudy. My sinuses say it might rain.

mosaikmum said...

Haha! You do make me laugh!
I WAS looking forward to the banya experience when I get to Moscow.....but now I'm having second thoughts!
The tasty bouquets are expensive! They look very nice though :)

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