Tyagarah lake, Australia

Tyagarah Lake is located in Northern New South Wales, Australia, about a 30 drive minutes from well known Byron Bay (and the very popular naturist spot Kings Beach). It is a picturesque small freshwater lake just minutes from the beach. A much larger lake is across the road next it but this is swampy and inaccessible.

view 0002 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Tyagarah Lake is a popular spot for locals and not a known tourist spot, as it’s off the main highway, on a dirt road and not near any towns.  But it is still easy to get to: turn off the Pacific Highway onto Greys Lane and follow it as it turns into a dirt road on the way to Tyagarah Nature reserve beach. Before you make it to the beach you will see cars parked on the road.

view 0005 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Look for the Tyagarah Nature reserve signs to find the path in.  It’s only a very short 3 min walk in to reach the lake.

naturist 0000 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

While I like it as the main destination for the day it is also a popular stop when driving back from Tyagarah Beach (also a naturist spot!) to rinse off the ocean and sand on the way home.  It is such a beautiful peaceful spot.

naturist 0001 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

The water is never too cold and is the perfect temperature to jump right in.

naturist 0003 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

The surrounding trees go right up the waters edge providing many shady resting spots.

view 0004 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

The surrounding trees are known as “Tea Trees” or “Paperbarks” (Melaleuca alternifolia).

Tea tree (paperback) 0001 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

This is what makes the lake particularly special. At first glance the water looks brown and barely swimmable, but it because when Tea Trees grow beside a lake, their oil drips down into the water making it look like tea.

view 0001 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

The water is very fresh and clean and the oil leaves a lovely moisturizing residue on your skin.

tea tree 0000 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Tea Tree oil has been used traditionally by Australian Aboriginal people as an antiseptic on the skin and as an insect repellant. Squeezing the small leaves releases the oil and a refreshing scent.

Tea tree 0002 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Tyagarah is named from an Aboriginal word meaning tussocks of sharp bladed grass. There is lots of grass of this description growing in the lake, so it is well named.

view 0003 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Other beautiful sights on the lake are the water lilies and dragonflies.

dragonfly on water lily 0000 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

When it’s time to leave after a last swim and before you put your clothes back on, a short walk can be taken all the way around the lake and reveals and some smaller inlets and swampy areas.

naturist 0002 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

walking through the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

naturist 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

The oldest living forest is as sacred as it gets for someone who is into natural history – and that is what Schulman grove of the ancient bristlecone pine forest is. Just imagine walking among the living beings that are as old the Egyptian pyramids! Discovery of these ancient plants was very important for dendrochronology, the technique of dating events, particularly climatic changes, by the characteristic patterns of annual growth rings tree trunks. There is a nice tourist information centre, where you can get brochures about these trees and maps with the trails. This is not an official naturist territory, but being a part of the Inyo National Forest, it is a federal land, and there’s no federal law against nudity; needless to say we wanted to experience the hike in this ancient forest ‘as nature intended’, naked. We of course picked the longest trail, which is ~4 miles, and didn’t see any other hikers.

cones 0000 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Looking at the cones, you clearly see how this tree got its name. Young seed cones are quite brightly colored; it takes them two years to mature.

cones 0001 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Pollen cones are also bright but much smaller and mature within one season.

cones 0003 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Given very dry conditions in the area, fallen cones accumulate in massive numbers before decaying,

cones 0006 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

sometimes forming “rivers” of cones.

naturist 0005 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Some lucky seeds would sprout in conditions where hardly any other would be able to…

view 0008 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

and eventually would grow for thousands years on!

tree 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Perhaps a part of the bristlecone pine can die, even a large part, but even then it can go on with whatever is left. We were hiking on a beautiful warm and calm sunny day… but at these elevations of more than 3km above sea level, conditions can change drastically from hot to cold – throughout the day, and throughout the year; and surely it can get very windy there too.

view 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

There is hardly any rain, winter brings precipitation but as snow. As the brochure explained, the bristlecone pines reach their record age not despite these harsh conditions but rather because of them, because they have to grow extremely slow. However, even though bristlecone pines clearly dominate this ancient forest,

view 0002 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

there are some other plants too.

Rock Spiraea creates a very dense moss-like cover, soft to touch.

plant 0000 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

But it’s certainly no moss, with its flowers sticking out… and attracting flies. I thought that they would stink, as many flowers do when they use flies for pollination, but I couldn’t smell anything.

plant 0001 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

The bushes of mountain mahogany cover a few less steep slopes.

tree 0007 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Their long fuzzy-tailed seeds drill into the soil, when moisture causes them to untwist (according to the brochure).

tree 0008 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

If you are not so much into botany,

naturist 0006 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

the views are pretty amazing too!

view 0004 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

And it’s just a very pleasant hike – not too easy, but not too demanding either. (But keep in mind there are also shorter trails, if you don’t have much time or aren’t adjusted well to lower oxygen levels at this altitude).

naturist 0011 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Also keep in mind that sun radiation is much stronger at this altitude;

view 0007 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

so even though I’m not a fan of hats, I appreciated I had one on the hike (I hope that still counts as a naked hike).

naturist 0001 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

But you can always chill in the shade too…

Sitting on the roots of these trees, you can’t help thinking of their impressive longevity… or brevity of our civilization? The oldest known specimen has lived virtually throughout our entire written history!

naturist 0002 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

And some of them offer even cozier seats for lounging

naturist 0013 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

(or artsy photos, if you consider the first one of this blogpost as such).

PS For weather reference, this hike was done in early September of 2016.

Secret Cove at Lake Tahoe

naturist 0003 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

Secret Cove on the Lake Tahoe shore was our “decompression” destination after Burning Man last year, but it surely would have been an amazing place to visit even if we hadn’t spent a week in the dusty desert: crystal clear water and fresh mountain air is a great start, but add to that stunning views and a nice laid-back atmosphere, and you’ll see why this spot is so remarkable.

view 0003 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

You can enjoy the views of snow-peaked mountains while sunbathing and swimming naked – a combination that is hard to find. As our previous post-burn destinations were oceanic beaches of San Francisco – Marshall’s and Baker – where the water is always cold and obviously salty, Lake Tahoe was clearly a better choice for rehydration of the body, as we could swim in its fresh and refreshing waters.

Lake Tahoe is famous for its large smooth boulders,

view 0006 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

and some of the ones at Secret Cove look especially peculiar with their spheric shapes

view 0002 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

– also nice to sit on and relax.

naturist 0006 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

A little farther away, the boulders are used for the same purpose by ducks.

view 0000 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

Another creature that you’re likely to see sunbathing on the rocks but away from the water is the sagebrush lizard.

sagebrush lizard 0002 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

Though it’s quite shy and will hide in the bushes if you approach it.

sagebrush lizard 0000 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

You won’t need to hide your naked self from anyone though, as Secret Cove is an officially recognized clothing-optional location,

view 0004 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

popular with locals and tourists alike. Of course most visitors opt for no clothes. This might be a reason why the atmosphere is so friendly there; e.g., I overheard a conversation between a local couple and tourists from Switzerland who had just met there, and an hour later the former invited the latter for a family dinner 🙂

naturist 0000 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

It gets quite busy in the afternoon, as that’s when the thin mountain air gets finally warm (but beware that high altitude also means stronger sun activity). Given that it’s a relatively small cove surrounded by high banks, it doesn’t get too windy. The mornings, however, can be quite chilly even in August and September, and you are more likely to encounter bird-watchers rather than nude sunbathers during early hours.

As an alternative to driving and hiking, some people arrive by boats

naturist 0001 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

or paddle-boards, for which Lake Tahoe must perfect.

view 0007 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

When we were there, two women did yoga on the paddle board, something I’m eager to try sometime to challenge my balancing skills.

A large portion of Lake Tahoe shore, including the Secret Cove, is covered by coniferous forest. The most notable tree is the sugar pine,

view 0005 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

which is the tallest pine species

sugar pine 0002 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

and boasts the longest cones of any conifers.

sugar pine 0001 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

I’m not sure why it’s got its name, perhaps due to the sap leaking from the cones that may appear like a sweet nectar.

Cones of the Jeffrey pine are quite impressive too,

Jeffrey pine cones 0000 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

but there are animals who clearly appreciate more than just their appearance:

chipmunk 0001 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

chipmunks are quite ubiquitous there.

chipmunk 0002 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

The incense cedars reminded me of the redwoods on California coast, though their size is relatively modest.

naturist 0008 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

The Secret Coved proved to be a great place to reconnect with nature and friends!

Marshall’s beach in San Francisco

Marshall’s Beach in San Francisco is a great place for a sunny afternoon within easy reach of downtown;  you can be naked there and enjoy one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

naturist 0000 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

That’s where Tam and I headed after Burning Man last year; in the wake of spending more than a week in a dusty desert, we were clearly drawn to large bodies of water (and it doesn’t get any larger than the Pacific Ocean).

pelicans 0000 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

We could have been just chilling on the beach, but we thought we’d rather have another session of acro-yoga, as I didn’t get enough of it during the festival, because I was mostly taking pictures of it.

naturist acro-yoga 0000 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

We kicked off with the ‘front bird’,

naturist acro-yoga 0001 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

and then moved on to more complicated poses.

naturist acro-yoga 0002 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

Tam was keen on practicing ‘basing’ with hands,

naturist acro-yoga 0003 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

and it worked out pretty well.

naturist acro-yoga 0004 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

The iconic Golden Gate Bridge surely provided a perfect backdrop for the photos.

naturist acro-yoga 0005 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

To me personally, it was also a bit ironic to do it by the symbol of San Francisco, because the very first time I tried acro-yoga was also naked, in the Golden Gate park of San Francisco, for which we ended up getting fines, even though it was before nudity became outlawed in the city.

naturist acro-yoga 0007 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

Well, this naked acro-yoga session ended just fine, since Marshall’s Beach is officially recognized as a naturist spot, so as the neighboring Baker Beach (where we went after Burning Man in 2012).

view 0001 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

And as pretty much any beach on the West Coast, Marshall’s Beach is poised to have a stunning sunset!

Olympics at Sandy Hook beach near NYC on the 20th of August

I thought that this month it’d be very appropriate to organize a sports competition, mini-Olympics of a kind – in the nude, of course – to remind about the origins of the Olympic games in Ancient Greece,

and very much in spirit of Active Naturists and our Gymnasium project.

 

We’ll  have a few events throughout the day on Saturday, 20 Aug (raincheck Sunday) at my favorite Gunnison beach on Sandy Hook peninsula (just across the bay from New York City) :

  • long jump around noon;
  • wrestling around 2pm
  • running and swimming races during low tide time – to run on wet sand/swim in shallower water – between 3pm and 5pm; 100m and 500m;
  • discus throw (frisbee) at 6pm;
  • + there are always volleyball games going on at Sandy Hook;
  • and maybe we can even have some gymnastics and capoeira!

Look out for our Gymnasium banner on the right hand side of the beach (looking at the ocean). See you!

naturist gymnasium 0005 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

tennis in the buff (in breaks between volleyball)

In my previous blogpost, I wrote about naturist volleyball tournaments throughout the US which I visit a couple of times a year, and last weekend it was the SunnyBowl at Sunny Rest Resort. Though it is the smallest one of its kind that I’ve been to, I could see many familiar faces from the naturist volleyball community. There were hardly enough people to make two teams in the novice division, where I’ve been playing so far, but then two of us joined the more advanced B-level teams. Let’s see where we’ll end up at the major naked volleyball Super Bowl in September! And when we were not playing volleyball or chilling by the pool, we played tennis. Well, or at least tried to – it was my first time actually! I love it when I try a new activity, and right away in the buff… as long as I don’t get fined for that, as was the case with acro-yoga! Well, this certainly wouldn’t happen at Sunny Rest, being a naturist resort. Their tennis courts are in great condition with rackets and balls provided for free. Enjoy these photos from our tennis match!

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Sorry for not having any imagery from the volleyball tournament itself, but you can (re)watch the videos in my previous blogpost, though they were shot at another resort. It seems like SunnyBowl is good at providing photo and video materials other than volleyball, as I shot a hypnotizing session of fire-spinning last year. By the way, I’m surprised that there is no big naturist tennis movement, although most naturist resorts are equipped with tennis courts. Maybe Sunny Rest should change that, and add ‘Sunny Open’ to its curriculum!

volleyball in the nude… as never captured before?

Sports in the buff is fun, and volleyball is probably the favorite game among naturists – perhaps because it is also a perfect beach sport? There are numerous naked volleyball tournaments, with more and more appearing every year, and the major ones in North America are listed at nudistvolleyball.com. This weekend we have SunnyBowl at Sunny Rest Resort, where I’ve been many times for the 7k trail race. I’m going with my friends Casey, the winner of the trail race in 2014, and Dan, another contributor to this blog, but I’m also looking forward to seeing my numerous  friends from the naturist volleyball community. And although the uniting theme is volleyball, some participants contribute with other activities, such as DJing or fire-spinning, as I filmed at SunnyBowl last year. What is really nice about naturist volleyball events is that there are players of all levels of experience, from complete novice to professional, so you’ll surely find a team where you can fit well! The biggest naturist tournament in volleyball is held at White Thorn Lodge in Pennsylvania,  and when I visited it for the first time 2 years ago, the level of games simply blew my mind! But I also found it strange that none of that was photographed and filmed. I thought that awesomeness was too good not to be shared with the rest of the world, and dreamt to change that. Here is our first attempt: a friendly match of Tiki-Tomba teammates at the Banana Rum Cup in White Tail resort, Virginia. Hopefully you’ll get to see their finals someday too! Meanwhile enjoy our two videos: a one-minute promo (above), and a five-minute footage that should give you an impression of the full match (below).

A good game starts with a good serve,

naturist volleyball 0008 Banana Rum Cup, White Tail Resort, Virginia, USA

and when the players are nude, you can see how the whole body is engaged right away.

naturist volleyball 0009 Banana Rum Cup, White Tail Resort, Virginia, USA

Here, the volleyball classics meets the Ancient Greek athlete classics.

naturist volleyball 0006 Banana Rum Cup, White Tail Resort, Virginia, USA

It is equally impressive that after such powerful serves, the opposite team is able to respond!

naturist volleyball 0002 Banana Rum Cup, White Tail Resort, Virginia, USA

And in this photo below, you can get a glimpse of how we shot the video.

naturist volleyball 0003 Banana Rum Cup, White Tail Resort, Virginia, USA

This is how it went:

And just a few words about White Tail resort: it’s a large nudist community with permanent residents and a motorhome park, but also with a lot of space for campers coming for an event like Banana Rum Cup. Their party hall is probably the biggest I’ve seen at a naturist resort. There is a big L-shaped outdoor pool, a hot tub, and a pretty big heated pool with glass walls and ceiling – perfect for chilling in bad weather. We actually got pretty unlucky with the weather, as on the day of the finals it was unseasonably cold, but that pool area allowed us hanging out in the buff in comfort even while there was chilling rain outside…

In the other related news, my friend Josh and I installed the second volleyball net at our local Sandy Hook beach. There used to be two nets until the hurricane Sandy destroyed one them, and often enough it was hard to get on the one and only court to play volleyball when the beach would get busy during summer weekends. We played a bit with  a portable net, but it wasn’t very stable; and it’s quite a hassle to put it up and down every time… So, Josh and I independently had been thinking about setting up a more stable net, but when we talked about it, there was no reason to delay any longer, and just a week later we had everything ready.

naturist volleyball 0003 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, USA

As soon as we made the measurements and started digging a hole for the first pole, we got a couple more helpers = new friends.

naturist volleyball 0002 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, USA

And there it was –

naturist volleyball 0001 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, USA

just ready before the nightfall! Having two nets will surely make it easier for Sandy Hook beachgoers to get engaged with volleyball.

naturist volleyball 0004 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, USA

So, whether you are at a nudist resort or beach, keep calm and play naked!

naturist KEEP CALM & PLAY NAKED

our Gymnasium project at festivals and beyond

The preparations for our second time at Burning Man with our theme camp Gymnasium are in full swing. If you’re new to this blog, you can read about the idea behind our project on its webpage, and make sure to check out the blogpost about our amazing first experience last year! Our schedule for 2016 will be available soon, and we already know our new location: 8:15 & D.

We also went as Gymnasium camp to FreeForm Festival a month ago, but unfortunately we had to cancel our famous naked oil wrestling – big success last year – due to terrible weather. A chilly drizzle lasted almost the whole last day of the festival… We still had lots of fun the day and night before though.

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But we’ll go on with this project beyond the festivals, and on this coming Monday, the US Independence Day, we are hosting a wrestling session at our favorite beach in NYC area – Gunnison on Sandy Hook peninsula. We shall have a workshop on different wrestling styles and then a fun match in the afternoon. Look for us on the right side of the beach, with an orange banner that says ΓΥΜΝΆΣΙΟΝ (Gymnasium). The workshop starts at 3pm.

naturist gymnasium 0005 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

Fifteen shades of tan… on Sandy Hook beach

naturist 0002 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

Finally, summer weather has come to New York and it’s time to open beach season here! My favorite beach around is Gunnison on Sandy Hook peninsula in New Jersey. I’ve written about it on multiple occasions already (just make a search on the site for other blogposts), but I have some nice photos to share from last year – in anticipation of yet another great beach time this summer!

The best way to get to Sandy Hook from New York City is by Seastreak ferry.

view 0003 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

I used to post the discount coupons for it, but it seems there’s no need for it anymore. According to the ferry website, starting this year, with fist departure of the day, you always get a $30 return ticket to the beach (regular is $45). A sad news is that there is no late departure from the beach anymore – the last ferry to the city is at 5:45pm, while it used to be 7:45pm – no more sunsets on the ferry? However, there is a shuttle to the late ferry departing from the town nearby. Update: the late ferry is back on the schedule!

The ocean water is probably still too cold to swim properly this weekend, but there are plenty of other activities to do on the beach! Volleyball is very popular at Gunnison beach, as expected from a naturist location.

naturist acro-yoga 0017 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USAnaturist acro-yoga 0016 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

But our favorite pastime last summer was acro-yoga.

naturist acro-yoga 0012 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USAnaturist acro-yoga 0013 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

It was great to see how engaging it was, as a few strangers joined,

naturist acro-yoga 0015 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

while I was practicing acro-yoga with my friends David, Eddy, Antony and others. (Remember our spontaneous handstand class 3 years ago?)

naturist acro-yoga 0014 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

Acro-yoga creates a great connection between the ‘flyer’ and the ‘base’,

naturist acro-yoga 0004 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

and it’s even greater when done in the nude.

naturist acro-yoga 0003 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

It’s quite an amazing experience,

naturist acro-yoga 0002 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

if you  do it in the open air, especially in a place like this beautiful beach

view 0001 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

with Manhattan skyline in the background.

view 0002 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

But we also experimented with a log as the base –

naturist acro-yoga 0007 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

floating in the air yoga?

naturist acro-yoga 0010 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

Probably the most entertaining acro-yoga pose is ‘the laughing dragon’ (you might remember some more pics of it from last year’s Burning Man post).

naturist acro-yoga 0018 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

Well, the more participants the merrier!

naturist acro-yoga 0000 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

So, Sandy Hook is a perfect place for socializing and getting your all-over tan!

naturist 0001 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

PS Sandy Hook is also good for watching airplanes coming to NYC airports. Who can spot an airplane on one of the photos in this post? Where does it seem to be landing? 😉

PPS If you like to bring a lot of stuff with you to the beach, which can be difficult while walking on sand, you should support this campaign for funding of the extension of the matted walkway!

Russian and Turkish baths in NYC

When it is cold and gloomy, one of the best things you can do is to go to a bathhouse – as I did yesterday, while the cold spell is back to the US Northeast. New York City has several options. The biggest one is probably the Spa Castle with Korean saunas in Queens, but if you prefer a more central location, Russian & Turkish Baths in the East Village is a good choice. Some friends of mine don’t like its dated look, but I actually find that low key style appealing; the room of Russian sauna (banya) looks as if it has not been renovated since the opening of the bathhouse in 1892.

Although the bathhouse is called Russian & Turkish Baths, it has also two Finnish saunas (dry and hot), in addition to two hammams (Turkish steam room, relatively mild temperature), and a bigger banya (Russian sauna, very hot but with humid air, sort of a mix between Turkish and Finnish ones). There are also massage rooms with treatments (e.g. mud scrub). But my favorite treatment there is actually performed right in the Russian sauna room. It’s a traditional Russian banya massage (aka platza, a yiddish term). It is a whole body massage that includes soap wash and whipping with oak branches. It may look a little rough, but in fact it feels very relaxing. As they claim, “the oak leaves contain a natural astringent, which will open your pours, remove toxins, and actually take off layers of dead skin”. And it does feel so. Platza is finished with a dip in the cold water pool, which is supposed to train your vascular system. Yesterday, I used the birch broom which I brought from the Ivanovskie Bani in Kiev. I first massaged two Brazilian friends of mine, and then one of them massaged me. But if you don’t have such a broom and don’t know how to do platza, you can ask local masseurs – they are really good!

On a side note, coming to the US after Germany, I have to mention that saunas here are clothing-optional only in single-sex setting. (This is also increasingly common in Ukraine and Russia.) So unfortunately for heterosexual couples or mixed-gender groups, they will have to walk around in shorts soaked in sweat… If you want to hang out naked, Russian & Turkish Baths offer one women-only and two men-only time slots.

BTW, they regularly offer special deals and discounts through Groupon, kgbdeals.com and savelocal.com, so keep your eyes open.