Jul 21

THE TOP THREE SAUNAS IN EASTERN EUROPE

Europeans love tasty food, good wine and, at the end of the day, enjoying a great time at the spa. From Iceland to Estonia, spas are an integral part of European life (if we go back in history in Greek and Roman times, we will understand why it’s pretty much a part of collective mentality) and often one of the city’s major tourist attractions. But do not think about some New Age scenery that take place in luxurious spaces where you receive hand massages with chocolate and where you can drink Japanese tea. European spas are hot and are located in buildings dating back centuries ago. The great part is that you leave these places feeling rejuvenated and with the feeling that you took part in something special with great tradition.

These three spas that we classified in a top three in the Eastern European region offer not only treatment for body and soul, but also an essential insight into the cultural space where they are located. After all, what better way to know a place than sitting naked in front of the inhabitants? 😀

Szechenyi Thermal Baths – Budapest, Hungary

Budapest was officially recognized “the City of Spas” since 1920, but the hot springs downtown have been enjoyed including by the ancient Romans, whose bathrooms are still running nowadays. There are many options in the surroundings, but one of the best is the Szechenyi spa complex, situated in a grand building with 10 indoor and three outdoor baths. Here you also have saunas, hot tubs and turbulence tubs in which you can relax.

Kalma Sauna – Tallinn, Estonia

Estonians, just like their Finnish neighbors, have a cult of saunas. They are good for the heart, skin and also a great place for socializing. In any house having a sauna is mandatory, and if not, there are public ones, as it is Kalma Sauna, the oldest sauna in Tallinn, dating from 1926. Spend a few hours at Sauna Kalma, hopping between cold showers and even colder pools and then back in the hot sauna.

Cagaloglu Hamami – Istanbul, Turkey

Turkish baths are found in all major cities, but nothing compares to the experience lived in an authentic communal bathroom in Istanbul. The oldest and grandest spa is Cagaloglu Hamami, where you can bathe under an amazing Ottoman marble dome built by Sultan Mehmet I more than 350 years ago. You are here in a warm room, accompanied only by the person who takes care of you, and the relationships that you will established here will reach a few different levels, passing through the stage of relaxation to the one of domination, if you keep in mind that you will be massaged and rubbed with a thick glove that will remove more layers of dead skin than you ever imagined that you have. This entire operation together with the massage usually takes more than an hour, but you can linger there as long as you want, while you drink tea and enjoy the warmth around you.

Photo source:

Picture 1: istanbul.com; Picture 2: propertyturkey.com; Picture 3: ferretingoutthefun.com; Picture 4: inyourpocket.com; Picture 5: gotohungary.com; Picture 6: dopaminejunkie.org; Picture 7: isea2011.sabanciuniv.edu
Jul 10

Varna

Varna, the largest town in Bulgaria situated on the coast of the Black Sea, is also known as the maritime capital of Bulgaria. In the last fifty years, the city has become internationally renowned as a resort, but tourists have been drawn to the beach and the baths found here since the beginning of the 20th century.

The locality is situated in a gulf which bears the same name, the second one in terms of size on the Bulgarian territory.

http://www.tourist-destinations.com

 

The high season for tourists lasts from June until the end of September, when, according to statistics, the town doubles its population. The long, sandy beaches separate the town from the sea, reaching every now and then a width of 50 m. The central beach is the oldest of them all, having been arranged for touristic purposes in 1926. There are numerous hotels and boarding houses which offer accommodation, but tourists can also find room and board at private houses. Thus, tourists have a variety of options in terms of lodging at their disposal.

http://www.turizmtatilseyahat.com

But besides the opportunity to go to the beach, tourists are also in for many cultural events, not to mention that there are a multitude of places in Varna which are worth visiting. Besides the festivals which are annually held in the high season, especially as a way to attract tourists to the area, Varna disposes of four theaters, a philharmonic orchestra, a puppet theater, many museums, and private libraries. So those interested in expanding their horizon, have from where to choose.

http://varna.bulgaria-travelguide.info

 

But Varna has much more to offer than that. The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is considered an icon of Bulgaria. The church had been erected in the 19th century (1886) by Renaissance artists. The cathedral consists of mural paintings which have been completed in 1950 and of a beautiful altar which was artistically carved in wood. In order to cover this section properly – which refers to religious buildings – it is also necessary to mention St. Nicholas Church (1886) which is wonderfully adorned with old fresco works and icons realized at various iconographic schools from all over Bulgaria.

http://bulgariatravel.org

Right in the center of the city, one can find the Roman Baths. These date from the 2nd century when Emperor Antonius Pius gave order to have these constructed. The passage of time spares no one, and these constructions had suffered damages over the centuries. But after a long period of time in which renovations were conducted, the former glory of the Roman Baths had been recaptured.

The materials used in the construction of the baths were rocks, bricks, grit stones, and mortar. The walls were plastered whereas the flooring was made of marble. The baths are in fact an archeological site and tourists will be happy to hear that, unlike other archeological places which are banned for visitors, this specific one can be admired up close.

Sea Garden – http://www.bulguide.com

 

Another point of attraction for tourists is represented by the Sea Gardens. These consist of an astronomic observatory, a planetarium, a tower, playgrounds, a zoo, as well as a summer theater where many cultural events are held.

The Museum of Archeology has on display a multitude of miniature representations of dwelling structures from the Paleolithic Era, as well as many ancient works of art. The museum holds one of the most impressive and largest collections from the country which contains early Christian items, religious objects, and items from the 13th and 14th centuries.

Navy Museum – http://www.panoramio.com

 

The Navy Museum is situated in the Maritime Park and offers insight into the Bulgarian Navy from the 1878 until the present day. This means that items of all sorts, from canons, to old anchors and ships are on display so that curious eyes can gaze upon them.

There is one unique museum that you can find in Varna and nowhere else in the Balkan region: the Museum of Medicine. The initial edifice was erected as a hospital and a small museum was annexed to this, but in time the building was transformed into an exhibition hall where samples of medicinal and aromatic plants, as well as instruments used in the medicinal field are on display.   

At the Museum of History and Art, tourists can admire the Golden Treasure – the oldest gold to have been processed (six thousand years ago), as well as various objects made out of gold (3000 in number) , such as decorative items and pieces of jewelry.