When I was finally in my sheet I knocked on the banya door and was given permission to enter. I found Julia already luxuriating in the hot tub, and Nastya led me to the steam room for my first taste of the Russian experience. I put on the cap provided and lay full length on a wooden table. Nastya then began using the venik on me. Strangely, I found it to be rather refreshing.
Nastya spoke to the attendant and arranged for us to rent the banya, and each of us was handed a large sheet to wear. We then entered a small vestibule, beyond which was the banya, showers and a hot tub. It was decided the ladies would change in the banya room, while I was to do so in the vestibule. I had stripped off my clothes and was about to put on my sheet, when a slight breeze blew open the outer door and gave some restaurant customers a lesson in American anatomy. They seemed rather unimpressed with the lesson, though. I hurriedly shut and secured the door once again.
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After I became rather hot, I felt it was time to experience the second part of banya – the cold water. This was a private banya, so there was no pool, and since it was spring, there was no snow on the ground outside. Instead, there was a bucket of cold water suspended over the showers. I quickly left the steam room, went to the shower area, positioned myself for the unknown, and pulled the cord which dumped the cold water on me. Julia and Nastya both stopped what they were doing and ran to the door of the steam room, giggling as they did so, to watch.
Our banya was not located in the village, so we took the train once again to one of the suburbs of St. Petersburg. After leaving the train, we started to walk until we reached a large apartment building. But instead of reaching our destination, our walk continued. And after reaching yet another apartment building, it continued further. I had worn some boat shoes with rather thin soles, and we often walked on some uneven ground. By the time we finally reached our destination, in a restaurant of all places, my feet were aching.