A couple days in Sochi, Russia, where the 2014 winter olympics will be held. Stayed at VERY expensive Grand Hotel Rodina, where a glass of wine costs €25 and a bottle of water €15. Rip off!!
Beautiful Russian riviera city, with 90 min drive up to Krasnya Poliana in the mountains, where we experienced an absolutely am
azing Banya experience at Banya Land. Russian, as it should be, with some additions.
We started out with a picked from the mountains herbal tea, and went into the Russian banya (type of sauna) and it was hot! And had an Ohm sign on it (like). Put on the traditional wool hats (picture and it is not me on the bench :)) and was better.Then our host started to throw ice cold water from the snow outside until we laughed so much that our stomachs hurt “better to have fun in Banya, and you don’t feel pain” he rightly said. Two more minutes, he said! You can do it. And we did.
Off to a cool down and more tea.
Into a four handed coffee scrub, which was divine. Four handed treatments are extremely difficult, and I usually avoid them, but this was close to perfect. THEN…. in again to the banya, stark naked on straw bed, cold and wet oak leaves covered my face to endure the heat and the soft whipping with oak whisks began, then harder, change of cold oak leaves and finally turn. (see picture from Banya Land, and one of the guys, but not me on the bench).
Much more whisking, three men with two whisks each, chanting loudly and then juniper whisks (ouch!) to take out evil spirits with prayers. And more chanting. Ice cold beer(!) thankfully pored over my body. More whisking, Finally done! Out in the snow, cold bucket shower and up to the 43 degree pot, with an ice cold herbal drink (picture).
Head spinning, at the same time completely empty. Afterwards tucked in on a wooden swing, in the sun and snow. Skin has never been so pink and fresh, and it was albeit very unusual – a divine treatment. And, I would do it again, any day!
Other than Banya Land, Sochi has about 250 health spas, all very run down, about 15 Sanatoriums (medical spas or kur), with expert doctors and advanced equipment, but in 3 star type facilities. Spa market is quite bad, but LOTS of new hotels coming up for the Olympics, so in 2 years the whole city and with that the spa scene have changed. I hope to the better. A more modern designed Sanatorium (without the Cuckoo’s Nest feel) would be fantastic.
Lots more to say, but all in all, great experience, bad spas, interesting Sanatoriums and fantastic Banya Land and too expensive wine and water! I can’t wait to go back to see how it is after the Olympics!