Understanding the sauna

Melissa doesn’t get the sauna. When we visit Scandinavia, you people have your work cut out for you. We have a great friend who planned to install one in his house and she just looked at him head scratchingly on many levels (why at all? why the expense? what is the impact on resale?… the list goes on). So there we found ourselves at a recent hotel with a spa, in the sauna.

How did we get there? Well, let’s start at check in. Because it was the off season, our hotel presented us with a coupon to the spa like it was one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets. It advertised its thermal pool, sauna and steam bath. And it was the right price at free.

So after a long walk, we decided to enjoy the aforementioned spa and all of its accoutrements.

We hadn’t made a reservation, so the sauna needed time to warm up. After showing us to the changing rooms, off to initiate the hot rock heating process went the spa keeper. “While you wait, please feel free to enjoy the thermal pool”, she said, “but it’s cold today so it’s cold.” Frigid, more like. I guess freezing is a form of thermal.

Instead, we sipped cucumber water while we waited for the sauna to heat. Upon the announcement of its arrival at its proper temperature, the spa keeper informed us that it was ready, “the sauna is first, the steam bath second in the hall.” So we went to sit in the sauna. Melissa’s perplexedness only exacerbating with each passing minute.

“Let’s try the steam bath”, I said. So in we went, to what appeared to be a massive shower with no steam producing mechanism to be found. Back to the spa keeper I went, admitting defeat. “How do you operate the steam bath?” I asked, hopefully. “Oh, that doesn’t work”, she replied with no sense of irony at all, as though Allen Funt were lurking behind the towels about to descend upon us with a “Surprise, you’re on Candid Camera!”

So, after returning to the sauna for a few more minutes, we resigned ourselves to scratching this particular spa off of our list and returned to our clothes and returned our robes.

Upon hotel check out, we were asked if they could improve upon anything. We looked at each other, smirking internally and said: “nope, wouldn’t change a thing”, as we truly hope the next guest has an identically head scratching experience and a good enough sense of humor to laugh, rather than whine.

So Finland and Sweden, you’ve still got your work cut out for you to sell my wife on the benefits of the sauna

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