“The sauna has become an international concept, but real sauna can only be experienced in Finland, its country of origin. In Finland the sauna institution is revered by every Finn and the traditions involved are treated with respect.” – helsinkithisweek.com
So, after a missed sauna opportunity in Estonia due to frozen water pipes, I finally got to experience (Finnish) sauna. On Saturday evenings, our building has a 2 hour sauna session on the 11th (top) floor. Fortunately, there are male- and female-only saunas. Initially, because I was a bit apprehensive about the experience I headed upstairs with stack of towels and my dressing gown. I took me all of 5 seconds to get comfortable with the “natural” style of the sauna. When I arrived, I was relieved to see that there was only one other person in the sauna. We could have a relaxed chat and I was actually networking (so much for power dressing!). The sauna is much smaller than I expected. When a bunch of other ladies arrived I decided I’d give them some space. I’ll maybe try the steamed sardines approach next week.
You have to be pretty comfortable with yourself in the sauna because everything is exposed- including the shower which is in front of whoever else is sitting in the sauna. Well, there is at least a glass door in-between. After a while one can get a bit too hot (the temperature was about 85 °C) so you can hose down, cover up and head out to the viewing deck just outside the sauna. There you can enjoy the fresh sub-zero air next to an open window. I survived my first sauna experience and will happily go back again next week.
Some of the apartments that we have looked at have had saunas. It would be great to have our own private one because it is such an important part of Finnish culture. However, many of the buildings have communal ones so we might have to settle for that.