In which we had a most Swedish experience

This is now my second experience with sweaty naked Swedish people, and this time it was a in a room full of sweaty naked men all smelling of eucalyptus.

That’s right.

Sauna time!

For a mere 60 kronor, this activity is something you HAVE to do if you’re ever in Sweden.  Luckily, I live quite close to Hellasgården bastu, or sauna, which also includes an indoor gym and yoga area, an outdoor gym (of which I am totally impressed with), and is located right next to a lake that you can cross-country ski around in the wintertime (or hike with improper footwear if there isn’t enough snow).  No wonder the Swedes are so fit!

To enjoy a proper Swedish sauna time, follow these simple steps:

1. Shower

2. Choose a level in the sauna room (level 3 is dangerously hot, recommended only for the advanced sauna-time goers)

3. Deftly pour water on the heated rocks without scalding yourself with backsplash (this has definitely never happened to me)

4. Spend 15 minutes naked (no bathing suits allowed) in the sauna room with a bottle of water (you’re going to need it so you don’t become dehydrated and pass out)

5. When you feel like you’re going to pass out, it’s time to jump in the lake.  Go outside and down to the dock, discard towel, and dive in head first into a Swedish lake with resting temperature hovering just above zero.  Understanding the cold has caused you to forget how to swim, attempt not to drown.  Clamber your way back up the ladder and wrap yourself in your towel.  Realize you just flashed several old naked Swedish men and a child learning how to fish.  Throw head back and howl.  FEEL LIKE A VIKING!

6. Repeat steps 1-5 as many times as you like.  Or until you stop feeling anything.

For fancy mixed-sauna-time, simply go into the men’s sauna room on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, and sit around with a room packed full of naked sweaty Swedish men who will talk to you more than any fully-clothed Swedish man you might meet on the street.  Then enjoy the sauna-master’s expertise as he pours eucalyptus-smelling oils in addition to copious amounts of water on the heated rocks, and then lasso-style waves a towel around to disperse the heat and the oils.

The sauna is open all year round, so when the lake freezes over the Swedes just cut an isvak (hole) in the ice for you to jump into.  Normal, right?!

Here is a Swede (that I don’t know) in front of the isvak in Hellasgården.  She looks happy because she hasn’t jumped in the water yet.  It’s still probably flippin’ cold out which is why that smile looks totally forced.  I know these things.

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Here is what it looked like today:

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And here is what we looked like after the “bath”.  We look happy because though the water was cold, it wasn’t an isvak, and nobody drowned.

Happy sauna-going!

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