This article is being re-posted from FLiP Magazine July 2016. FLiP Magazine is a great publication with insight into pop-culture for both men and women! Aeri Rose is a regular contributor to FLiP W, the female focused half of the magazine. You should definitely check it out, and subscribe for the free digital editions! Even if I’m quiet here…I’ll always find something to say there!
Spas Around the World
By: Aeri Rose
We had been at a bar in Copenhagen the night before; talking with some fellow travelers, swapping stories and sharing recommendations. They had been at a spa on a coast in Sweden that day and were encouraging us to go. We had been traveling hard for a good week and a half at that point and the thought of a peaceful spa day with practically no museums or statues to gawk at sounded pretty refreshing. Maybe they glazed over the details. Maybe we were so intrigued by the thought of a traditional Swedish Spa that we only heard what we wanted to hear. They did say that the spa used the salty sea water in its treatment.
They neglected to mention the fact that they didn’t bring the sea water to the spa…they brought the spa-goers to the sea water. In the form of an ice cold dip in the frozen Baltic sea, with one small ladder going down into a sizable hole hacked through the frozen surface.
Not quite what we were expecting, but those travelers had looked pretty relaxed, and we were already at the spa, so we might as well embrace the local traditions and dive right in. Literally.
In many of the Nordic/Baltic countries their version of a relaxing spa day involves lounging around naked in large dry heat rooms until you’re sweating out of every pore and can’t stand a moment longer. Then you dash outside, across the snowy deck, and jump into an icy hole. The theory is that alternating dry heat with cold salt water is good for the circulation system, helps you sweat out toxins, and then cold shock your pores closed, keeping them out.
It is definitely invigorating. And after a couple of rotations we got used to both the hot sweaty nakedness of the saunas and the shocking coldness of the sea. We could even be found lounging on the still snowy deck between rounds, or walking to the very edge of the pier, barefoot, wrapped only in what was little bigger than a hand towel, relishing the invigorating yet calm energy we felt coursing through our veins.
Our spa day was an immense success. In part because we let it be. We could have turned away at the first snowy pier, or the first old naked sweaty man we passed, or the first sight of that hole hacked in the ice. But we didn’t. We embraced the newness of the experience and just went with it.
I highly recommend just going with the flow. Try out things you’ve never tried before and learn something new while learning about yourself.
Spas are usually a pretty good way to try something new. Every culture has a way to relax, and most of the are quite unique and area specific. I mean, it would be pretty hard to make the Nordic spa day work in muggy Florida, where the water is often lukewarm at best. Not nearly as refreshing as a cold dip in the Baltic Sea.
Some of my favorite spa days have included Turkish Baths, Korean Spas, soaking in Hot Springs, and exploring Chinese Medicine treatments.
In Turkish Baths you enter a big heated room with a giant heated marble slab in the center and small wash stations all around. You wash off, then lounge and relax on the marble slab for as long as you like. You can return to the wash stations at any time and can use extreme exfoliating soaps and sponges to really scrape off every dead cell.
Alternatively, Koreans use their spa experience as a mini-vacation. Whole families go, and are allowed to stay for up to 24-hours. The spa house is open all night long. There is a wet area, segregated by gender, with baths, hot soaking pools, and steam saunas. Then, clad in little cotton uniforms, families can reunite in the dry area. The dry area is a collection of hot rooms of various temperatures and different energies. There are pine rooms, and amethyst rooms, and gold rooms, and more. Each room is designed to tap into a different healing practice. There are often comfortable chairs to lounge in in the common areas, and delicious cafes where you can get snacks and meals.
Hot springs can be found all over the world. Small or large, these bubbling pools are often mineral filled and very healthy. Some are just holes in the ground at the end of a trail. Some have been tapped into and plumbed into large well-maintained swim centers.
In China it is easy to find a spa house specializing in massage, ear candling, cupping, acupuncture and more. Ear candling uses a lit candle to suction the ear wax and dirt out of your ear canals. Chinese Cupping Therapy uses small cups and heat to suck to the skin and to create a vacuum. This is thought to promote healing and blood flow.
I could go on endlessly about the many different spa traditions of cultures around the world. But I think you get the point. The next time you take a trip, look into the local spa traditions. It could be a fun way to immerse yourself in the local culture. You might find yourself relaxing in ways you never thought possible! You might even get home and install a steam sauna in your garage you love it so much!
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Have you ever had the urge to just drop what you were doing, pack a bag, and set out on an adventure? Seven years and over two dozen countries later, Aeri Rose is proof that excitement, independence, and discovery await those who are bold enough to say “yes” to life’s craziest choices. When not exploring the world with her little grey backpack, Aeri Rose an be found living a nomadic lifestyle traveling the United States as a writer and entrepreneur. To follow Aeri on all her adventures, check her out online at travelingwithaeri.com; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aerirose.