Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Food, drink, more food and drink and naked saunas

On Sunday I turned 32 *blows party horn* - hurrah! And what better way to celebrate than to head down to the local "Wellness" (sorry, I can't bare that word and do not accept it as proper English, so have to put it in inverted commas) Centre and get naked with lots of unknown Czech men and women!

Well, that wasn't my ultimate plan. I shall start from the beginning. Having been away for a couple of weekends, I decided it would be nice to spend my birthday weekend in Brno. On Saturday we went to the Špilberk Food Festival. Sadly, the weather was chilly, windy and rainy so I couldn't take the sort of photos I had wanted to. Instead, I decided to tuck into all the fabulous food that I could and try a good selection of wines. You will just have to take my word for it that it all looked and tasted delicious! This was the first Food Festival in Brno and I hope they put it on again next year, as it was a great opportunity to try small, yet excellent dishes from some top-notch restaurants in Brno.

On Sunday, we had a lovely birthday brunch at home. My OH bought me a nice bottle of Mucha Sekt, which we made Buck's Fizz out of and drank with sweet things to start off with: yoghurt, raisin brioche and melon and later had scrambled eggs with sausages and baguette. Scrumptious.

Fortified with food and wine, we set off on the tram to Hotel Santon. It is situated next to the Lake in Bystrc. From the outside it doesn't look like much (a bit communist-era), but once inside the "Wellness" area is very modern and has clearly been recently refurbished. I decided to book in for a 30 minute massage (bliss), a 20 minute private jacuzzi session (invigorating) followed by 90 minutes in the sauna and pool area (aaah and argh!).

Before we went there, I had of course shaved my legs in preparation. However, it suddenly occurred to me, that it might be customary to be naked in the sauna in the Czech Republic. This only sprung to mind, as I had once had a funny experience in Germany with a friend where we both turned up at the spa only to be told that we could not possibly wear our swimming costumes, "as this would offend others". Sure enough, when we went to the saunas at Hotel Santon (of which there are 4) there was a little "no swimming costumes" sign on the door. You are expected to remove your swimwear and wrap a sheet around yourself, which they provide. Once inside the sauna, you sit naked upon your sheet.

Beautiful private jacuzzi. Image via: Hotel Santon

The saunas are mixed, but personally I don't have a problem with this. Many Brits, and I think Americans, would find it unthinkable to sit naked in a sauna with unknown chaps and chapettes, but you soon realise that there is nothing sexual or seedy about the environment. It is a normal and healthy thing in Germany and the Czech Republic to be naked and have no qualms about it when relaxing and enjoying health treatments.

The saunas were very good: one very hot and very dry one (Finská), one less hot and dry one, one very humid one (Tropická) and another one outside with a big dish of lavender oil in the middle. This one was opposite the ice cold plunge pool, so I braved it and jumped straight in afterwards. Gasp, gasp!

We both had a really nice afternoon at the spa and I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for somewhere quieter and reasonably priced. I was worn out from all this relaxation and promptly fell asleep when I got home - a sleepy but happy birthday girl.


  1. I concur with you in believing that "Wellness" is not a proper English word, but its use is now quite widespread in describing Health Clubs with sauna & pool facilities.

    The Czech people do have many similar characteristics to their German neighbours so I'm not at all surprised at the 'no swimwear' rule for the sauna. The Czech people do generally have a very relaxed attitude to the human body which has its good points, such as women being able to breastfeed anywhere with no one batting an eyelid, but also the downside that some men will urinate rather publicly when they could be a little more discrete.

    The Mucha Sekt was a highly appropriate & thoughtful gift from your OH!

    1. Glad to find someone who also feels this way about "Wellness". I really have quite an irrational hatred for the word. I first came across it in 2001 when I was living in Germany. You could buy "Wellness Wasser", "Wellness Duschgel" and every single advertising slogan seemed to be promoting "Wellness". At the time, all of us English Assistants in Germany said that there was no such word in English and that it must be Denglish, like "Handy" (mobile phone). However, we later discovered that it was in use in America and had somehow made its way to Germany. I still refuse to use it. There is a perfectly good word to use: Well-being! :)

  2. Sounds quite heavenly... I've started going to aqua-aerobics classes & there's a jacuzzi by the pool so guess who tries to get there early for a dip?!

    1. That's great! It was a really nice spa and much posher than I had expected. We both enjoyed all the treatments :)