The new sauna

(The original post in Bulgarian dates back to 28 September 2014.)

I promised to tell you about the new sauna and here I am fulfilling my promise.

“The new sauna” presupposes there had been an old one and yes, there was – just fifteen minutes on foot from our place in the cutely-named district of Klíše (note: pronounced a bit like “cliche”) where we live. The old sauna was very hot, small, in the style of socialist aesthetics, cheap and nice. Every time there would be the same people there; not that I’d talk to them. I’d only see them naked. And so would they see me, for that matter. In the same room where the sauna and the cold water pool used to be there was an even smaller and nicer corner for people to have a drink, watch TV (on which there used to be 99% sport and 1% a movie with Robin Williams) or read the free magazines from ČD (the Czech railway company).

I’ll always remember that corner for several reasons listed ascendingly according to their importance: 1) Lukash would always have Kofola there (the Czech version of cola, thicker and sweeter than the original, I don’t like it) which was very cute because he’d know Kofola is bad and yet, he’d have it just because “you could” between the sittings in the sauna. 2) It was the first place I’d had Slovak white cheese in, which resembled intestinal worms; but mainly 3) Because it was there where I once, for just a minute or two, felt an amazing feeling of calmness and happiness as if a person whose words you can always believe has told you that in the Universe everything was, is and will be just fine. I don’t know what led me to this state, I only remember there was ski running on the TV. Perhaps one day I’ll get on a pair of ski and I’ll discover that’s the thing my soul had wanted all my life which I’d never done before.

And perhaps my feeling was triggered by that wonderful calm state (physical) I fall into every time I get out of the cold pool, sit somewhere covered with a bed sheet and start waiting for my heart to go back to its normal rhythm. I will feel my head spinning and I’ll be overcome by such an omnipresent and tangible feeling of peace that, if I have lied down, I’ll fall asleep.

That’s why I love sauna so much. (Not the swimming pool, though, because the depth of the water terrifies me and usually what terrifies you can’t make you feel relaxed to the point of falling asleep at the same time.) And so I felt a bit sad when last spring I found out the sauna in Klíše was getting closed. Back then I thought there were no more cheap socialist-style saunas in Usti and that I would have to part with one of the few things in my life that actually brought me peace. It turned out, however, there were! Another socialist sauna and for the same price, too (but with no swimming pool included which is harder for Lukash than it is for me), again not more than 10-15 minutes from our place. The new sauna isn’t better than the old but look at its building!

The picture is awful but at least it proves there is sun!
The picture is awful but at least it proves there is sun!

The building of the new sauna can almost deceive you that you’re some prince or princess with its look  and with the fact that the black gate you can see has a bio cell and opens itself in front of you. Then, however, you go up the stairs and first, you’re blown away by the mega socialist atmosphere and second, of course, you must pay to use the sauna. But either is okay.

The new sauna is bigger but noisier, has a steambath, many beds for relaxing (so many it looks like a hospital) and average temperature of the sauna minimum 120 degrees. And, judging by my two visits so far, I can say that the new sauna is more social.

You read up there that at the old sauna I only saw people naked, didn’t you? Well, at this one I also talk to them. My first conversation, however, was quite awkward. Some people entered the sauna and began talking with an accent (one of them was definitely Roma) and Lukash and I laughed because they mentioned Bulgaria. They heard our laughter and a bit later when I decided to go into the steambath, one of them followed me.

Now… imagine you are a woman and for some reason you have forgotten your bed sheet by the showers which means you’re completely naked in the steambath. Right after you in comes another man who has also, for some reason, forgotten his sheet and whose words you were laughing about a bit ago. It’s a bit awkward, isn’t it? But it got even more awkward when the man actually started talking to me. I didn’t know which way to turn so that I could both look him in the eyes and not insult him and so that he could see as little of me as possible. Eventually I turned aside with only my head facing him – an extremely uncomfortable position which became a little less uncomfortable only after he thickened the steam (that expression isn’t an idiom, thank God!). He asked me where I was from, whether I was in Czech Republic to work and then, when his friends and, thanks, Lord, Lukash entered too, he started talking about how gypsies in Bulgaria were really smart gangsters and thieves.

As Lukash and I had nothing to contribute to this discussion, we went out but then by the lockers the same people were still talking about some gangster business and staring at us. They went out a bit after us and I was sure that if we found ourselves on the street something would happen but then I suddenly realised that Lukash had forgotten his umbrella. We went back to look for it but we didn’t find it. Lukash got angry but at least the three gangsters weren’t waiting for us on the street. (Or they were gangsters specialised in stealing umbrellas from saunas!)

And today, at the sauna I spent some time talking to a Vietnamese (the duration, however, is unknown but taking into account factors like 1) the 120 degrees, 2) the fact I don’t know Czech well and 3) the Vietnamese accent of the Vietnamese, it can’t have been very long) who remembered us from the sauna in Klíše. I also remembered him, of course. If I saw him on the street, however, I could confuse him. Clothes are so misleading…

Than, in the cold pool, I just made a face and a guy asked me if I was cold and having barely waited for my “yes”, began to lecture me on how nice it was and how I would get used to it and some other things I didn’t understand at all but neither did he understand I didn’t understand because he looked like he wanted to be the only one doing the talking. And how I wished to explain to him that I was actually feeling very nicely in the cold water after those 120 degrees! Well, maybe some other time.

And so… If you come to visit me and you’ve always wondered how I look naked, we can go to the sauna! :PPP

Lukash and I having rest in the sauna.
Lukash and I having rest in the sauna.

Otherwise, during the last few days some other interesting things happened, too, for example I already have a job and I had a “užasný” (both in Czech [meaning “wonderful”] and in Bulgarian [meaning “terrible”]) weekend but I’ll tell you about it some other time because there must be spoileeeeers (pretend you read this last word in River Song’s voice or, if you don’t know who she is, in the voice of any British woman.)

See you soon. :*

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