The simple Russian banya (sauna) was a perfect escape from the extravagance of Moscow. In the tranquil location by the lake we indulged in a beautiful BBQ lunch, with a little too much vodka! Unwinding in our banya, we feigned years of experience whilst beating (they call it massaging!) each other with the dried birch branches. It recharged the batteries and left us bright-eyed heading to amazing St Petersburg.
My ‘birch-branch-beating’ techniques still need some work … which sounds like a good excuse to go back soon!
By Tim Flatley