Monday, July 24, 2017

My Russian Sauna Experience

While I was in Russia I really wanted to experience a true Russian banya. Unfortunately, after two years, I hadn't had the opportunity, so A and I did the next best thing. For months and months he kept saying we should go to a sauna. We never actually got around to it because it always wanted to go during the week when it was cheaper, but I just couldn't make it work when most of my classes were in the evening or at night. For his birthday, I decided we really just needed to make it work. I'm really bad at buying gifts for guys, so I knew he would like this. The only problem was he wouldn't let me pay for it!
We went to VIP-Complex Rai (VIP-комплекс “РАЙ”) and had the best time! We had the whole place to ourselves for 4 hours! You might think four hours is a lot (because I did) but the time flew by! When we first arrived I was running around looking at and taking pictures of everything. It was so big and it felt like there was so much to explore. Then we finally decided to go between the pool and the sauna. I started to feel sick after about an hour because we didn't eat lunch and the heat of the sauna wasn't helping. We ordered some food - bring your own food! It'll be a lot cheaper - and I started to feel much better.
After we ate we decided to play some pool. I felt bad a few weeks earlier because he really wanted to play somewhere and I didn't want to go so I decided to suck it up and play. Now, my only experience playing was at my grandparents house growing up, and I didn't even know how to play then; we would just take the balls and try to hit the other ones without the sticks. It was a huge surprise when I ended up winning. Thanks grandma and grandpa Albert!
After I beat him at pool we went back and forth between the sauna and pool again. I also managed to slip and hit my head on the tile floor after trying to do a cannon ball in the pool and getting a ton of water up my nose. Despite all that I had such a good time, and I'd definitely go back.
About 20 minutes before our time was up we decided it was time to pack up and get ready to leave. A called an Uber and on our way home I saw a drunk man passed out on the sidewalk. Russia leaves you with some great stories. We stopped at A's apartment so he could grab some things and on our walk back to mine we passed these wooden animals. I was glad that they were finished before I left although that wouldn't have stopped me from taking pictures. There was a goose also but it was not very photogenic at all.
A took a video of the sauna, and I decided to include it because it's more detailed than the pictures I included and gives you a better idea of the layout. Enjoy!
Have you been to a Russian banya, public sauna, or private sauna? What was your experience like?

10 comments

  1. That looks like an interesting experience - so awesome you had the whole place to yourselves for that long - amazing! There is a Russian-style banya in Seattle I used to go to often and really enjoyed - hmmmm... I might need to go there if I can finagle a visit this time around ;) I also remember they had herbal tea that you mix jam into... seemed like a Russian thing, to mix jam into your tea, apparently.

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    1. I've never heard of mixing tea and jam. I actually think my friend used to work at that banya! He's from Seattle. You should meet him. He's amazing, has old dogs, and loves Eastern Europe.

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  2. I'm crushing so hard on this post, Jasilyn!!! :) And so happy that you got to the banya, hooray!

    We used to go with friends- pool money and rent the place for a few hours. Super relaxing. Now that we're in the US, I've been doing the float tank thing... it's nice, but not as good as a real banya. Isolation instead of celebration.

    PS: Did you and A try hitting each other with branches (can't remember the Russian word) when you were in the sauna?

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    1. They didn't have branches. This was an upscale sauna. haha! That float tank thing terrifies me.

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  3. How fun! There are Turkish baths here in NY that are really old and I've always wanted to go!

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    1. You should go! They had public banyas in Russia but apparently everyone is naked and I still don't know if I'm ready for that. Mostly because I'm self conscious about myself!

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  4. This looks nice and relaxing!
    Also, love those wood sculptures

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  5. This really looks like a lot of fun! Honestly I always want to play pool, but it's always at bars, and I get intimidated by all the people milling around, haha.

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    1. I'd be the same way because I'm terrible. It was nice to have no one around! :)

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