I remember taking quite a few saunas during the summers I lived here waaaaay back. We would be 5 or 6 naked guys in a sauna seeing who could stay in the longest. Sometimes the ‘cool off’ was a jump into a cold lake. It seemed like every summer house had a sauna. This trip the sauna has not featured so prominently. In fact, we have only had two opportunities for a sauna, and both reaffirmed my memory that saunas are wonderful.
Jan’s wife Kirsi is Finnish, and it sounds like not having a sauna room at a Finnish summer house just does not happen. So, when Jan and Kirsi bought their Swedish summer house sans sauna, they had to build one. They attached the sauna to the house, and it has a glass door. Our American sensitivity to nudity immediately made us think, “This is weird,” as the shower for the house is right there and you can see people showering through the glass door. But, then again this is a private family sauna. Kirsi told us that her daughter Anna asked us if we would be doing a co-ed sauna. Thankfully, no, as this sauna was going to be au natural. The stove was wood burning – none of this electric nonsense. You get the wood smell, a different type of heat, and LOTS of water being poured on the hot rocks on top of the stove. (No chance of short circuits, as is the case with electric stoves). Jan insisted we try the black soap from Finland, which is made from pine tar. Get the real Finnish scent on our bodies. Afterwards, we cooled down on his deck with a beer and dared the mosquitoes to drink our warmed blood.
Our second sauna opportunity came at Stephan and Cici’s house. Per warned us that Stephan is a sauna fanatic, and will sauna until sunrise (4:00 AM or so in summer). We had a 3 family backyard party on a Monday night – summertime everyone seems to be on vacation – complete with taco bar and Albin’s 500 watt DJ setup. By 5:00 the first round of the sauna had begun. It started with just Stephan, Per and myself – au natural. Stephan treated us to baudy sauna songs and also described his sauna. What a smile he had on his face when talking about it. Special wood burning stove, automatic water-on-the-rocks sprayer that was connected to a pull string running on the walls (anyone who wanted steam just tugged on the string), music player in the cool down ante-room. There was a small pool outside to jump into. This was a Rolls Royce sauna. He had built his dream sauna. After dinner, the sauna time began in earnest. Stephan was so elated when we filled it up, no more bench space. It became swimsuit sauna, as we were all not that good of friends…except for Stephan, who apparently always saunas in the nude. I eventually saw him put on clothes around 11 PM.
Honestly, a few hours of sauna-ing really does leave you relaxed and ‘floating on little white clouds’ as Stephan would say. I have an open space in my back yard that would fit a sauna house. I may have to bring Stephan – the Sauna King – over as a consultant for creating the perfect sauna environment.