pool and spa culture around the world

My wife is from Estonia. I met her there teaching English back in the late 90’s. Every winter we go back to visit her parents and family. It’s always fairly cool in Estonia and in the winter, even more so. They don’t have many back yard swimming pools but people still like to vacation and unwind. So, people either take a trip to a neighboring city or take a trip to a neighboring country and stay in a hotel that has a heated indoor pool, spas and the most important of them all, the sauna.
To say that saunas are popular in Estonia, would be an understatement. Saunas are part of their ritual and family culture. In these hotel/spas in Estonia, they have many various types of saunas. They have a salt sauna, which entails a medium heat sauna in which stands a pillar of salt and one gets salt in their hands and wipe it all over their body. This is supposed to clean the skin. It might, but it burns a little too, so I am not a big fan.
They also have the steams saunas, menthol saunas, regular sauna and the hot sauna. The hot Sauna is at 100 degrees Celsius, which is the boiling point of water.
The hot sauna certainly was noteworthy. They were performing a sauna ritual. Probably 20 people sat in this rather large sauna in a big U shape. The person conducting the ritual was in his early 20’s. Everyone was tense a head of time when the ceremony was beginning. I was about to find out why. 100 Celsius is pretty hot by itself, but when the young man poured water onto the hot coals, what felt like a boiling cloud of steam enveloped us. I came to find out that the higher in elevation one was, the hotter is was. Heat does rise. I happened to be on the highest row of seats in the sauna. We did this a couple times and then our master of ceremony brought out several hand fulls of birch branches with dried leaves on them. We dipped them in water and smacked each other on the back with them. This is supposed to be a massage but I can’t say for sure if I got any therapeutic benefit or not. More water on the coals and more steam and it is getting unbearably hot, we do some loud chanting and he sprinkles cold water on everyone and it feels good. We are done with the sauna and a few people dart away through the door outside. A small round pool is open to the elements and running. The last part of the ceremony is dipping our bodies in the nearly freezing cold water. It felt great believe it or not, after being in the sauna.
So, if you happen to go on holiday somewhere in Europe, don’t be surprised if run into something new.

Heres a link to the blog of the hotel http://www.narvajoesuu.ee/klassikaline-ravipakett-(alates-4-ravipaevast)

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