This blog is about Finland, so there has to be the obligatory sauna post. And here it comes. We have our own sauna in the flat. That’s not out of the ordinary here, and in houses where not all flats are equipped with their own sauna, there often is a common sauna which you can book for one hour per week for a small fee. These saunas are quite handy, for example to dry your laundry when you haven’t got a drying rack yet. But of course also for taking a sauna.
As you know, Finns are very proud of their sauna culture, and it belongs to all aspects of daily life. At houseparties, the sauna will sometimes be warmed up, and guests tend to bring towels with them just in case. Some parties just happen at the sauna – at larger saunas, which are either public or belong to a society, and can be rented specially for the party. Sauna culture also makes it into business life, and during networking events it is not unusual to go to the sauna. Finns view German sauna culture with bemusement – water can only be poured onto the stones by the bath attendent, mysterious steam wafting ceremonies? Ridiculous. British sauna culture is not considered at all, thanks to the compulsory wearing of swimwear.
But sometimes they do go over the top just a little with their love of saunas. There are sauna trailers for caravaning holidays, floating sauna rafts, saunacars,… Here’s my top 10 weirdest saunas I have heard of so far:
1. Sauna in the stadium. Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena has VIP boxes that are equipped with saunas. That way you can sweat while watching an ice hockey match or large concert.
2. Sauna in the library. Helsinki’s new central library comes with a sauna, to promote Finnish sauna culture. I just hope the books will have to stay outside…
3. Sauna in a phonebox. It’s transparent, it’s transportable, it’s… a sauna. Because they can.
4. Fast Food Sauna. At the end of 2015, Burger King Helsinki opened the world’s first fast food sauna (although apparently there is or has been a sausage van sauna in Tampere). Perfect to sweat off all the calories you just ate.
5. Sauna gondola. If you’re bored of just having a sauna or stunning views, why not have both at the same time. You can do this in Lapland in the sauna gondola. If you want to cool down halfway through the journey it is not recommended to leave the sauna though.
6. Ice sauna. There are some ice saunas which are “cold saunas”, but also some which are regular hot saunas. Floor and walls are made of ice, but still the room is heated up to around 70°C. This must be Finland’s reply to Britain’s separate hot and cold water taps.
7. Sauna duck. If cruising around Helsinki on a giant duck isn’t cool enough yet, you’ll be relieved to know that this one also comes with a sauna.
8. Warship Sauna. Let’s stay on Helsinki’s water, as there’s another sauna worth mentioning: On board the warship Vartiovene 55 is a sauna with space for 15 people. I highly doubt it was part of the interior when the ship was still in service though. EDIT: I have now been made aware that at least some of the larger Finnish warships in service do indeed have saunas for officers and soldiers to use!
9. Combined Harvester sauna. The word “combined” gets an entirely new meaning. Although I’m pretty certain that harvesting with this thing won’t be very successful anymore. I’m not a farmer, but somehow I struggle to imagine one thinking “oh, this is a bit chilly harvesting here, I wish I had a sauna in in this thing”.
10. Portable sauna. If despite all these sauna options you’re still scared to be left out in the cold, simply invest in a portable sauna.