Posted by: keepfishing | June 26, 2007

mmmm, eucalyptus

Banyas are the place to be. Seriously, they are the most incredible thing and the one part of Russian culture that should be incorporated throughout the world. To be fair, in essence it is not unique, as their are various finnish, swedish and turkish variants, amongst others, but the UK needs to see some of the action!

Before I left the UK, I was given some advice on team building that said praying ogether was the best thing for bonding. She was right. However, this pretty much matches it for the blokes.

 Imagine you walk into a brightly lit room, with some mafia-esqu looking men munching on dried fish staring at you and are directed into a low walled (as in, just above the knees) booth with saloon style doors and look around dumbly for some changing rooms before turning around and realising the Russian you are with has already got completely naked. Imagine you then proceed through a wooden door to a steamy room filed with benches, showers and a lot of tubs filled with water and juniper branches, which you pass by to enter a sauna containing a platform, presenting you wiht an opportunity to get hotter than you’ve ever been before.

You’ve just imagined a banya. Add to this the opportunity to lie down and get thrashed with some juniper branches by some guys you’ve known a mere few days, before leaping into a barrel of freezing water and then relaxing in a moderately cool plunge pool and you’ve got the ultimate bonding activity.

Guys, nakedness and branches. Awesome.

 It’s a shame that the only examples in the UK carry a 100 pound price tag at a health spa, or are preceeded by the word ‘erotic’ (The Gentle Touch in Marchmont springs to mind). I’ve never been so relaxed. Oh, to go back again….



  1. That sounds like fun! And also quite similar to the Japanese Onsen, except I don’t think they do the branch whacking thing here…I haven’t quite been brave enough to try one yet, so I don’t know for sure!

  2. Oh if only our banya experience sounded so nice. 🙂 haha.. other than the bonding that happened. it was about as dodgy of a place as you could imagine.


    From your blog I could deduce that you were stuck in Russia sweating with a bunch of old guys. I might do that, except for lunch the other day. Also, I’ve still got your shirt!

  4. […] watchers I was blown away by the scene in the steam room. The steam room in the film was more like Al’s experience than mine. Viggo is in a steam room wearing only a towel when he gets attacked by two […]

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