I look at Sophie again and offer a sheepish shrug.
Back in the day, saunas were shared among finnish of a single neighborhood or apartment complex, but readily available hot running water rendered these public spaces obsolete. Lately, however, renewed interest in sharing the steam with strangers has spurred a women of sauna renaissance in Helsinki. I was on a mission to explore as many of them as I could.
Stepping from the cab into the snowy countryside we walk toward a friendly looking farmhouse — a comforting bit of civilization amidst the unfamiliar darkness. A blast of frosty air rushes past us into a primitive room that glows in the firelight. We push the door shut quickly to ward off the cold, embarrassed by the spectacle our arrival created.
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Two women wrapped maxi-dress-style in long, flax-colored towels sit at a farm table that occupies a good part of the room, candles and glasses of water on the table in front of them, a rustic loaf of brown bread finnish a cutting board waiting to be sliced.
Shrugging out of our heavy coats, we feel around in the semi-darkness for an empty peg to hang them, trying not to further disrupt the atmosphere of serenity.
We had decided during the cab ride women leave our inhibitions in the city, committed to experiencing the ex-urban Finnish cute girl cum in the traditional buff.