Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Spa virgins take to the nudity for a little roll in the clay

Let's just get it out of the way straight away: I'm not much of a girl. I've never had a manicure for one (let alone a pedicure). I only have my hair done professionally because that allows me to indulge my love of those tacky celeb magazines (the vulgarity of which I officially claim to hate). A couple of weeks ago I was on a wonderful date with a wonderful guy... at a football match.

So it doesn't come as much of a surprise that I'm not really into spas either. I did try in Tunisia, but lying naked on the therapy table at the hammam, being poked and prodded by a total stranger (who'd not even taken me out on three dates...) just made me feel awkward. Perhaps I'm just too Finnish for my own good?

During our girly getaway in Riga we decided to go all out and spoil ourselves rotten and so I booked us into the spa at our hotel, Opera Hotel and Spa for Rasul treatment, which, the leaflet promised, is a "traditional Arab cleansing ritual which leaves one feeling pure and calm, skin beautifully exfoliated."

The treatment was recommended as a "great way to spend quality time with your partner".... or a "close friend." In hindsight I probably should have stopped right there for a moment: quality time with one's partner in that romantic sense does, after all, tend to involve drastically different things from quality time with one's friend, no matter how close you are. Unless, of course, we're talking about the kind of "close friends" Rock Hudson had?

Robes flowing we slipped down to the spa and were escorted to the changing rooms, after which we were taken to a preparatory, mid-temperature steam room to warm up. Oh, and relax. Which we all know is something that happens when you're told to do it. 

Then we were moved to the treatment room, where we were greeted by bowls of different coloured clay and his n' hers disposable underwear. Strings for one and , well, a banana hammock for the other. After exchanging some uncomfortable looks with the Cat Blogger it started to dawn on me that we really might not be close enough for what was to come. 

The next step was to scrub the clay all over each others' naked bodies. At this point we unanimously agreed our friendship could do just well without any additional sensual components. 

We entered the cramped 42°  steam chamber where were positioned on stone seats facing each other and instructed to continue rubbing the clay on ourselves as the heat steadily went up. Oh, and relax, of course. 

The 20 minutes that followed were the longest of our lives. No matter how close friends you are with each other, it's surprisingly difficult to carry on a normal conversation while naked, staring at each other fondling yourselves in strangely bulging paper thongs, sweating profusely and having streams of clay running into your eyes. Anything but relaxing, I can tell you. 

After 20 minutes in the chamber, the showers in the ceiling went off (Hmmm. Is anyone who just read that sentence still thinking of a spa? ) and it was time to rinse off the clay. Persistent stuff. The mess we left behind was... well, that's one detail I'm sure we can all do without.

After the treatment it is advisable to rest (and relax some more) and drink plenty of fluids for 20 minutes in the relaxation rooms. At this point we started to get back to normal (as we were planning on what to eat that night) and yes, even some relaxation was noticeable. 

Sure enough, after the treatment our skins did feel dreamily smooth. Perhaps all that spa-ing really has a point? And learning to set some time aside for relaxation is something we all could benefit from? Maybe that's something I could take home with me and make part of my own routine? So that I wouldn't put on my weekly face mask while doing the dishes with one hand and writing, editing and replying to e-mails with the other? 

Instead I could switch off the phone, wrap myself into one of those gloriously luxurious thick robes (note to self: buy a robe), light some scented candles (note to self: buy candles)  and create a relaxation-inducing atmosphere by playing that New Age ambient jazz mixed with whale singing (note to self: buy whale singing) and set one hour each week aside, just for myself?

That can only be a great idea, right? So why is it so difficult to remember taking care of oneself?

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Rasul treatment at  Opera Hotel and Spa 26€ /pp/ 40 min treatment

At Baltic Beach Hotel & Spa it's included in the services provided by the Gardenia

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  1. OMG hilarious! You are such a great writer. But now your secret is out... you do a weekly face mask! Is that why you have such perfect skin? Don't answer that. It's those Finnish genes. Great post and great photos, as always.

    1. yes - I do, that much of a girl I am :-)

      Trust me though - if Finnish gene pool is ever responsible for anything it's producing socially awkward, perennially depressed suicidal alcoholics :-)