The first 24 hours we were in Estonia, Gert kept talking about the Nordic Sauna experience. He asked us numerous times if we had ever been to a Sauna. Aaron and I both have done Sauna’s in the States. For example, most American Spas have a sauna, most Sport and Athletic Clubs have a Sauna, I’ve even heard of private residential properties having saunas. So, Aaron and I were intrigued by Gert’s constant talk of Sauna’s. After the prison we found a delicious Vegan Restaurant! It was called Vegan! Delicious!! Ha! Can’t wait to eat there again!
There always has to be food involved!!!
Anyway, during our late lunch/early dinner Gert suggested we try this new Sauna that was open and it stays open until 10:30/11 pm. We thought, “What the heck! We are in Estonia and how different can a Sauna be?!” Gert made a few phone calls and we were scheduled for a traditional Nordic Sauna at 8pm. One problem: I did not have a bathing suit. Aaron had brought his, but I didn’t think to bring mine. After all, I knew it was going to be cold and possibly snowing! So the dilemma was finding myself something to wear to the Sauna. Gert said we didn’t need towels, robes, etc. Gert told me it would be so easy to find a woman’s swim suit because sauna was so commonplace that most places sold swim attire year round. The men dropped me off at a shopping center and away I went, while they were going to get in a little more “whiteboard time”. I checked almost every store and could not find ANYTHING! Finally, I walked into a department type store and voila! There was a tiny rack of about 15 swim suits and all too big. I looked through all of them and walked away. Nothing! As I was walking away I felt sorry for myself! “I wasn’t going to be able to have the Nordic Sauna experience!:(” I turned back around and went to look through all 15 or so bathing suits again! I found one that was one size too big, but it would work. I had to make it work because I didn’t want to be left at the hotel by myself! Yeah!!!! (I think I might always slip in a bathing suit now when I travel. You never know when you might want it!)
Gert told us the Sauna was an 18+ adult Sauna. I was a little worried with that little bit of information. Usually when an age is attached I seem to question the events or happenings. But, Gert assured us we would love it! He told us to just bring our suits and we would be good to go! We walked into a movie theater and paid for our Sauna while others were ordering popcorn and seats for a movie! LOL! I’m not joking! This was a new concept for the Estonians too. Why not go to a movie and, after, go to the Sauna!?
We went to our separate dressing rooms and then met up in the Sauna facility. This place was huge! There were at least 10 different types of Sauna rooms. There was a large swimming pool with a swim up bar, plus the pool had massage jets for your feet and back on the outskirts of the pool, there were lounge cabanas for people to lay down and relax, there were freezing pools so one can reset their body after being so hot in a Sauna, there was an outdoor freezing pool in between two different Saunas, and there was a pool of fish that one could sit in so the fish would suck off dead skin! Connected to the 18+ Sauna was a resort and the family Sauna! Families go to Saunas. We were able to cross over into the family Sauna because of the pass we had, but the family Sauna passes could not go into 18+. Nothing unusual was taking place in the 18+ and everyone was so respectful of the experience and relaxation that everyone was enjoying. Plus, some do not want to go to a Sauna with kids and teenagers running around. I now understood the 18+ concept. I will admit it was cute seeing a little 5 year old holding her moms hand, entering a Sauna together. I kept asking Gert if it was safe, because as an American I would not be allowed to bring my children under the age of 16 into a Sauna. He didn’t have to answer my question, because clearly it is part of the Nordic way of life and there are very few incidents of tragedy or side effects of a Sauna!
There was one Sauna room that Gert had tried to explain to us previously. The temperature is really hot and one throws water onto the hot stones to produce steam. Meanwhile there are buckets with bundles of birch tree branches that people slap themselves with to stimulate the skin and body. When we went into this Sauna, and older man started hitting Aaron with the branches. I started laughing and then a different younger man started hitting me with the branches. Everyone was laughing so hard in the Sauna! Gert said using the birch branches was SO traditional. I am glad we got to experience something like that!
Aaron was in heaven at the Sauna! He has always loved that type of thing. Saunas have always been really hot for me. I know that sounds funny, but I really had to concentrate on not getting to anxious about the heat. I couldn’t stay in one room for more than 5 minutes. Some rooms were more pleasant than others. By the end of the night, I felt my body had adjusted and it was relaxing! Also, I wasn’t wanting to jump into the freezing water either! I only did it twice. It was so hard for me! It was shocking!!!!!
I now understand why the Estonians love the Sauna! It gets so cold up there in their country and the Sauna is the perfect way to embrace the cold. It is so cultural! In fact, Gert said a lot of Estonians have Saunas in their homes! I have read about the health benefits to Saunas and thought it would be cool to have one in a future house. I think Aaron and I would both benefit from that thought!
The only pictures we have are the ones Gert took when we were in the fish pool! That was hilarious! It felt so strange and funny at the same time. It did not hurt while the fish were sucking the skin off. Just a different humorous sensation! It was such a fun night and I am so glad we tried the Nordic Sauna!
Check out this quick clip advertising the family sauna we went to! Viimsi Spa!