Saunas and serenity
All in all, there are over 2000 saunas in Levi. Around ten of them are available for rent. You can enjoy the sauna steams of an old lumberjack sauna or a sauna with a view from the fell. There is also a floating sauna raft.
THERE IS A SURPRISE behind the sauna door. Amidst the steam you can see an old beam wall and hanging from it a row of red wool socks. The reason for this will be revealed later – let’s get up on the sauna benches first.
- This Taivaanvalkeat sauna is one of my favourites, says Maija Palosaari.
Maija, the Head of Marketing at Visit Levi, has promised to take us on a tour to visit three different saunas. The entire evening will be dedicated for this sauna safari. It begins from the Ounasjoki river embankment.
The Taivaanvalkeat sauna was originally a lumberjack cottage. It’s now a part of the Elves Village, a place where those young at heart can make ginger-bread biscuits, attend an elf school and participate in lots of other activities. The Aurora Pyramids are the latest addition to the village.
- Bathing in a sauna should be a joy, Maija says.
- It should not be too hot. Humidity and softness is perfection. And breathing should be easy: a bigger sauna means there’s more air to breathe.
Now that sweat is dripping, it’s time to put on the red wool socks. It’s 50 metres to a hole made in the frozen river. The snow might be rough if you walk ba-refoot. Thick socks protect your feet and you can stand outside for minutes after the dip in the river. The Taivaanvalkeat sauna is a place where you could spend the whole evening, but for us it’s time to move on.
THE FLOATING sauna located at Immeljärvi lake is brilliant. There is room for a dozen people on the sauna benches. It has spacious lounging areas such as a room with fireplace and a covered terrace. A fridge filled with bevera-ges and a barbecue grill will keep you entertained. There is also a hot tub and a wood-fired tub.
When the lake is not frozen you can take the sauna raft around the lake. Now it’s trapped by the ice but swimming is still a possibility: there is a hole in the surface of the lake.
- After a swim in the icy water you feel relaxed and, yet, energetic, Maija says and tells that she likes swimming in all weather conditions.
- The sauna at my cottage is by a river and I often go to swim at the Levi Hotel Spa.
In addition to swimming there are also other rituals that are important to Maija: using a leafy sauna whisk made from birch twigs, essential oils in the sauna (birch is her favourite) and cooling off outside in the fresh air.
- I need to cool off outside no matter the weather. My personal record is standing outside in -40°C”, Maija laughs.
Maija goes to sauna five times a week both alone and with friends.
- You can talk about anything you want and relieve stress. But you don’t have to talk, you can make room for silence.
THE LAST SAUNA of the evening is situated on the eastern slopes of the Levitunturi fell. A narrow road takes you through the pine forest and between huge log cabins to the Aurora Sky restaurant. The tables offer a magnificent view over the fells, woods and lakes. You can see a glimpse of futuris-tic igloos here and there between the trees. You can watch the Aurora Borealis through the glass roof – from the bed, if you wish.
The sauna here at the igloos is locat-ed in a luxurious villa called the Northern Lights House. The sun is about to set so before we head to the sauna, we go to the hot tub outside on the terrace. We enjoy the steam that surrounds us and gaze at nature’s own fireworks. The sky has orange, yellow and pink hues. In the other direction nature uses a palette of different blues.
On the sauna benches we decide to share sauna stories. Maija tells about an American sauna where it’s forbidden to throw water on the stones of the sauna stove. They had to sneak the water in in bottles. There was also an earthquake experience in the spa section of a Japanese skyscraper.
Does Maija have any advice for a foreigner who goes to a Finnish sauna for the first time?
- You don’t have to be naked. Use a towel or wear a bathing suit. If you’re not experienced, throw only a little bit of water at a time. And if you want to reach that same mental space as us Finns are when we are in the sauna, you need to calm down. Sometimes the most important thing is to listen to the hissing of the sauna stove.
THREE EXAMLPLES OF SAUNAS FOR RENT
1. ELVES VILLAGE
Taivaanvalkeat sauna by the river is also available for individual visitors: communal sauna 15€ (incl. swimming in the frozen river). Elves Village offers also restaurant services, accommodation and experiences.
In addition to the floating sauna, Immelkartano has a traditional smoke sauna. You can swim in both places all year round. Restaurant Riihi is specialised in traditional dishes and functions also as a café for skiers.
3. LEVIN IGLUT
Levin Iglut and Restaurant Aurora Sky are situated in the Levitunturi fell in the altitude of 340 metres. Guests can stay in exclusive glass igloos or in the spectacular Northern Lights House. It is available also for celebrations and sauna gatherings. Also those stayng in the igloos have the opportunity to use the Northern Lights House sauna.
BOOK YOUR OWN SAUNA EXPERIENCE, LEVI.FI