Not so fresh off the plane from Helsinki, the minute I landed in Kuusamo I was whisked away to experience none other than the quintessential Finnish ritual – The Finnish Sauna. In the Western World we would consider sauna and spa time an indulgence… but this couldn’t be further from the truth in Finland. The Finnish Sauna is a mandatory part of your existence – a staple in any Finn’s daily life. So here I was, fresh off the plane from Helsinki and ready to experience my first real sauna experience…
Wellbeing in the Wilderness say it themselves on the homepage of their website –
The people of the North are no ordinary folk.
Sitting in 100 degree heat for long periods of time, swimming in freezing cold lakes, being beaten with a stick of birch tree? No ordinary Folk? Yeah, no kidding!
Before I arrived to the Sauna Tour, I had already tried my hand at the Finnish sauna in Helsinki. Tried being the operative word. It is truly no exaggeration that Finnish saunas are everywhere – I even had a private sauna in every hotel room. At first I thought it may have been a room upgrade, but later I discovered that no Finnish house or even apartment would be without a private sauna. But my attempts to experience and understand the Finnish sauna were dismal – so luckily for me I had a full introduction to the sauna experience here in Ruka, a ski town close by to Kuusamo where I would be staying for the next 5 days.
The Finnish Sauna Experience
Being that I had just stepped off the plane from Helsinki, I was first treated to a ‘light lunch’ before the sauna experience began. It would appear we had differing interpretations of light, as the table soon became filled with open rye sandwiches, creamy mushroom soup, drinks, and an indulgent creamy dessert.
Following the lunch we made our way downstairs to begin the sauna experience. Today I would be experiencing the Wild Rose Therapy Treatment – a combination of traditional sauna, marinating and exfoliating in rose leaves and oil, as well as a bold dip in the freezing cold lake.
After some time in the sauna, we made our first run to the lake for a dip. According to the Finns there are significant health benefits to this leap of faith (further backed up by a quick google search by yours truly), so I decided to bite the bullet and take a dip. On my first attempt however, I simply couldn’t progress further than knee-deep…. it really was just so cold!!!!
On my second round (after more time roasting in the sauna), I finally made the full dip into the lake – brrrrr! It was certainly worth it for the bragging rights and that (almost) instant sigh of relief when you step out of the lake.
For the wild rose therapy we then covered out bodies in rose exfoliator and cleansed our bodies of impurities. Afterwards we indulged in some light snacks and detox tea to really make ourselves feel cleansed from the inside out!
As my first full Finnish experience, I couldn’t have left feeling more alive and excited for the next 5 days ahead in Ruka. Be sure to check back for forthcoming posts on the rest of my time in this beautiful and isolated part of the world as I meet reindeer, huskies, as well as going hiking and canoeing in the wilderness!