Thursday, 12 July 2012

Russian Spa - mountain style!

Before we had gone up to the Barrels on Mount Elbrus, we had made a provisional booking at a hotel in Cheget Village for their 'spa' package.  The package included 2 hours of a hot steaming sauna and cold plunge pools - apparently very healthy and great for rejuvenation, which we obviously all would need after a week on the mountain!

It cost us 500 Rubles each, and I paid for Yuriy as I felt he was part of our team and he basically had our lives in his hands and did a damn good job! 
We were all quite excited to head on down there, and our booking was confirmed for 4pm, so we had about 2 hours to finish shopping and showering before we had to go.
The Funnells and Joe and myself were in town most of the time,  I had to find a bikini and they had to find some shorts!  We shopped at the markets and I found a nice bikini for about R125 and the boys found some cool shorts for about R70 each! We only returned to the hotel after grabbing some food  around 3pm to get showered and ready for the 'spa'.
Yuriy told us that they would provide gowns and 'sheets', which I presumed to be towels.

It started raining as we walked down, but we were all excited to experience this Russian spa.
The receptionist couldn't speak a word of english, luckily Yuriy was there, but when I was shown to the ladies change room we had bit of an issue as I wanted to know how I was supposed to dress and what I was supposed to do with the big white sheet that accompanied the smaller waffle weave piece of fabric??? I didn't want to go out and make a fool of myself haha, anyway I ended up going out into the pool area and saw Yuriy there...haha he had this little hat on and the waffle weave around his waist! At least I  knew where that went now, and the soft sheet is to use after, like a towel or blanket!

The Spa Hotel Foyer
It was a very interesting set up indeed! These gorgeous raw wood benches were placed around the ice water pool and scattered around were the funny little felt hats.  I knew what these were for as earlier on in the day in Azau village, Yuriy had shown Joe and I the various ones for sale and explained that you wear them in the sauna to protect your hair from the extreme heat - how clever is that!!  So we all donned our little 'kappies' and climbed into the 'hotbox'!  How amazing - the sauna we were in was run by a proper fire! The man came in and stoked it, added more wood etc - awesome! You could hear and feel the heat a mile away!

The plunge ice pool
Ray & Joe - the strongmen!
We had loads of fun - it was quite a sight to have all the boys lined up in the box on the top row...haha unfortunately the cameras wouldn't take photos in there, but I will never forget it! We also realised that there was no bucket and ladle to scoop water over the rocks, but this was soon changed when we discovered the pale in the shower!  Ray was in charge of the scooping and boy things were about to get really really hot!!
The plunge pool water is COLD...frigid, freezing, hypothermia all come to mind literally took my breath away when I got in there, instant pain!! But also relief in some ways?? The only person who really lingered in there was Yuriy and Ray - Ray seems to be able to cope with anything that comes his way...amazing!

Strong men and relaxing men pose!

This was the 'gay' pose photo!
After jumping in, I saw a drinks list on the wall with a phone and Yuriy explained that we could order beers/softdrinks and have them delivered to us in the spa! Now we're talking! So Yuriy ordered for us and a few minutes later the delivery arrived! Life is good in Russia!
We also discovered the 'ice showers' - there is a chain, you pull it and this huge wooden pale empties frigid water all over you in the loudest heaviest gush imaginable! I screamed blue murder when I did it, it was freezing!!
Joe sipping a beer
Jay in the ice shower
Robbie and his belly

We continued the afternoon by getting excruciatingly hot and frigidly cold, enjoying our Russian beers and all the chatting with Yuriy.  It really was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon in the gorgeous Baksan Valley with the snow capped mountains surrounding us - an experience I recommend to everyone, and one I will treasure forever!

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