Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Back to Banya
After the long train ride to Nizhny, there was only one thing on our minds: Banya. After booking into our hotel we headed straight to the closest one. It was a public banya this time. First things first, we headed to the whipping stick shack. There was a wide variety of sticks, and the stick lady was very helpful. It smelled plenty aromatic inside that shack. The pine needle sticks particularly terrified Kendal. We purchased our sticks, bought our skimpy towels and flip flops, and headed into to the banya. We stripped down in a big public room supervised by a sweet little old lady. We weren't sure where to go next, so we snooped around until we found another room filled with naked men. We grabbed a pail and filled it with hot water. We soaked our sticks like pros. Next the sauna. It was crammed full of naked bodies. Kendal and I couldn't make it much past the door, not that we wanted to go any further. It was searing! And they kept splashing more water on the rocks. It was ridiculous! There was no cooling pool at this banya so we dumped pails of cold water on ourselves. A man from Uzbekestan was sitting next to us. We couldn't stand more than a few minutes in the sauna at a time. I survived about a minute on the top shelf and almost fainted on the way down. We watched in horror as an 18 month child was brought screaming into the sauna. I suppose he'd better get used to it! After two hours we were ready to go. Cold pints of beer were only 15 Rubles in the cafe below. It was a satisfying way to spend our first day in Niznhy!