Riberborgs Kallbadhus (bathhouse) is a spa that is built on a long wooden wharf, extending from the lush green shore of Malmö, overlooking the Nordic North Sea. It’s a popular spot, offering massages, benches for relaxing and there’s a nice cafe’ where you could easily spend the day, taking a break from daily life.
I am no stranger to saunas, appreciating the health benefits of releasing toxins with heat and sealing off pores with cold water or air. I have experienced the purge of Native American sweat lodges, saunas in the north woods of Maine and Northern Italy as well as the Roman baths in Budapest and the ancient healing mineral pools of Turkey. But each culture has its own customs and protocol, so I didn’t know what to expect.
Men and women have segregated areas and a common area as well– although I didn’t observe much mingling there. Perhaps that had to do with the sign stating that clothing is NOT permitted, although strategically placed towels were acceptable but not used much when the temps hovered between 176′ and 194′ F , depending on whether you were in the sauna with one wood fired stove or two. So I peeled off my bathing suit and got with the program, which brought a smile or two.
Each sauna has a large picture window with the seascape and sky to soften your focus. The hotter I got, the more meditative I felt. Clouds became figures dancing above the seductively rhythmical waves. Rivulets of sweat reduced us all to the level of reaching our limits as human beings. It was humbling and no one said a word.
The real deal is to alternate with a dip in that cold salty sea water at 61’F– which I did not do!
It was enough for me to take a break in the cool of the air, waiting until my lobster red skin returned to 98′. But I was shamed by a woman who looked to be an octogenarian who only used the hottest room and took her dips without comment.
Maybe that’s why the Swedes have the reputation of being both hearty and stoic!