“Sauna-ing” the Swedish Way

“Sauna-ing” the Swedish Way

Picture Of the Bath House
When living in a new country it is very important to always keep an open mind to everything. Whether that means trying new foods, wearing new clothes, or going into the Kattegatt Sea in the middle of January. Some of the best experiences in life come when we force ourselves out of our comfort zones and try new and exciting things. I am a firm believer that you must always first try something before you decide that you do not like it and it was this exact belief that had me trudging up the walkway to the local Kallbadhust (Bathing House) in Varberg.

Let me start off by saying just how beautiful this building is. It is over 100 years old and the detailing on it is amazing, not to mention that it is on stilts standing over the water with a breathe taking view of the harbor. Inside there is a small coffee shop where people can hangout and enjoy the view, or you can choose to pay 65Kr and get to experience what a traditional Swedish Sauna is like.

I suppose I shall start off with a little disclaimer – if you have a problem with nudity then I highly suggest you refrain from entering any Sauna in the Scandinavian countries. Saunas/Baths are very common in  Sweden and almost all of them are nude. In my town alone there are at least 5. These can be female/male only or coed, I would say more are sex separated though.

The process begins by first stripping out of all clothes. Then you take a little towel to sit on and head to the Sauna to heat up. The temp in the Sauna is almost a staggering 200F! I know that may send some people running, but the heat felt so good and was very relaxing. It really opened up your pores and mind – personally I loved it. The Sauna had huge open windows facing out toward the sea and everyone in there was chatting it up. I even managed to have some nice conversations with some people who were very fluent in English. There were lots of moms an grandmas who come to talk about their weeks, it was a very social thing.

One can only take so much heat and after about 15 minutes most people reach their breaking point.  This is when the real fun begins. Dripping in sweat I stood up and went to the door that leads outside. Once I opened it I saw that the building made sort f a rectangle shape, but the entire middle was empty, leaving only the freezing sea. On the right side were some stairs which the women then go down plunge themselves in the sea (which for the record was a cool 4 C) and then make a beeline for the sauna. I knew that if I stood there thinking about just how cold it would be jumping in, I would never do it, so without thinking I sprinted down the stairs and dived into the water.

The coldness was stunning, it took my breathe away. My heart rate skyrocketed and my skin felt like needles were punching it. The feeling of having pure adrenaline run through your body is exhilarating – I was hooked.

Panting, I made my way back to the sauna. I sat down again and closed my eyes. My muscles were tingling and relaxing, my skin felt silky smooth due to the salt water, and my blood was pumping. At first I will admit I thought that the Swedes were a little crazy for doing this. My family and I always talk about how insane the people who do the Polar Plunge are, but after experiencing it for myself first hand I now understand why they do this and if I am to take any American with me when I come back to visit Sweden you can be sure I will be forcing to experience this great Swedish tradition too!

Had I not been brave enough to try something new and different, I would not have had this amazing experience. There is so much in the world out there just waiting to be discovered. I know how corny the saying “You Only Live Once” is, but it is true. Why go through life afraid of trying new things? You never know what you could be missing out on! After all in my opinion life begins a the edge of your comfort zone. So I challenge you all whether it be big or small to go out and try something new. Maybe a new type of food, a new haircut, bungee jumping, whatever it may be. Stop letting your fears of the unknown hold you back and just do it. I guarantee you will not regret it.


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