You’ve seen all those glam photos about posh spas, where the word ‘luxury’ is an understatement. Shining marble and atmosphere whiter than white. Recently I discovered a totally different way of bathing. I had a blogging trip to Nuuksio National Park in Espoo and I found that natural luxury bathing could be more stimulating than anything a traditional spa can offer.
Have you ever bathed at a tepee in a forest? Next to Nuuksio National Park is Inipi Spa. It’s a unique sauna and bath experience at a large tepee by a forest pond. First you start with a wood-heated sauna, and when your toes and fingers are warm, you can dip into the refreshing pond water. In the winter time the water in the pond is ice cold – but that’s just good for your health. And now you are ready for herbal hot water tubs inside the tepee.
An open fire burning in the centre of the tepee adds to the wonderful atmosphere. The most addictive thing in the whole experience is that you can repeat the cycle as many times as you want. Or just lie in the tub next to the fire and feel rejuvenated and ready for anything. Maybe a cold drink or two?
In Finland there are tens of thousands different saunas. It’s like food – sometimes you need if fast and light, sometimes only fine three-course dining is enough. Kattila Smoke Sauna, right by the Kaitlampi lake, is definitely a gourmet of saunas. We had an early spring day trip to Kaitlampi lake at Nuuksio National Park. In the morning there was a surprise snowfall and the air was crisp and very cool. So Kattila Smoke Sauna was the ideal medicine for cold fingers and toes.
The Smoke Sauna is simply a room containing a pile of rocks, but without a chimney. A fire is lit directly under the rocks and, after a while, the fire is extinguished. The heat is retained in the rocks, and the earlier fire becomes the main source for heating the sauna. Following this process, the ashes and embers are removed from the hearth, the benches and floor are cleaned, and the room is allowed to air out and freshen for a period of time.
A hue of smoke still existed in the Smoke Sauna when we first climbed up to the benches. We added fuel to the fire and the soft warmth surrounded us. And then we repeated it. But the catch was waiting for us outside; it was time to go for a wild water swim. There were stairs at the end of the pier and cold-bloodedly I got down to the water.
In the spring time the water is very cold – under 10 degrees celsius. You can’t stay in the cold water for long; I only swam a short circuit. And then it was quickly up to the pier! A tingling in the skin and a rush of blood in the veins is a truly unique and addictive experience. After swimming in the cold water the hot sauna felt so comfortable and relaxing. Sometimes the Finnish Sauna is called a place for rebirth – and that was certainly the case this time.