Monday, May 6, 2013

Royal Bath Adventure

Tbilisi is known for its hot sulfur baths and after yesterday's hike, Heidi and I decided to partake of the experience.  There are several baths to choose from in Abanotubani which is the bath district.  The ground level domes are easy to spot and all of the baths were built between the 17th and 19th centuries.

The Orbeliani Baths, with its distinctive blue mosaic exterior is the most famous.  Unfortunately, it is closed for renovations and won't reopen anytime soon.

So we ended up at the Royal Baths instead.  No one spoke English and my Russian didn't help as much as I had hoped.  Perhaps because Heidi and I came in together or simply because my Russian has gone to rubbish, we found ourselves in a private room rather than with the general public.  We were given towels which in reality were bed sheets and left to get undressed.

Now in Scandinavia, as in most of Europe, public nudity is no big deal.  It's certainly no big deal in Czechland.  And while I've gotten more used to it, I'm still an American with all of my delightful hang-ups about modesty.  So with no swimsuit in sight, I had to get completely naked.  Yikes.  Heidi could see that I was a bit apprehensive and kindly looked the other way.

First you have to strip down and soak in the hot tub.  The water was around 40 °C (104 °F) and it took a moment to sink in to.  After a good long soak, my masseur came in and told me to lie down on this slippery tiled massage bad.

The massage is more of a scrubbing as he used two coarse mitts to scrape away all of the dead skin.  He then used a big thing of soapsuds and buckets of water to wash me down.  Laying on a table, naked as the day I was born, getting lathered up by this big burly Georgian guy while a Finish girl relaxed next to me in a hot tub was quite the experience.  After my massage I got back in the water.  Then Heidi's masseuse came in for for her scrub while I soaked in the hot water.

It's been over 20 years since I was naked with a girl in a hot tub.  I'm sure that my friends will have fun with this story.

This was a bit different from my Turkish bath experience in Istanbul.  But the end result is the same.  You are completely knackered and sleep like a baby afterwards.

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