Last Saturday Andrey treated me to a day at the Banya. Let me go back a step- a banya is a Russian bathhouse. Which is to say, a banya is a place with a pool and saunas. And a steam room. And if you're really lucky friends and massages (I'm really lucky). You can spend the whole day bouncing between the pool, cold showers and steam room and saunas (wet or dry). Then you can relax with your companions, read a magazine and eat some fruit (eat light while "bathing.) Make sure to drink lots and lots of water. And at the end, you get to get your cozy dry clothes on, sit back and have some ridiculous Russian food. This time I had cheese varenyky, basically sweet ravioli. 

1. Wear a bathing suit thats comfortable and fits well. You're going to be walking around, swimming and sweating in it all day. You don't want to be worrying if there's a towel around your waist. 

2. A lot of Banyas allow you to bring in your own water and fruit- check ahead and if you can, do. It's a better deal to get them outside and you'll love the refreshing flavors.

3. Flip flops are a must- duh. Most banyas will give you a pair but that just doesn't feel quite clean enough for me, personally. Light flip flops are best as they don't seem to suck up the heat from the saunas as much. There's nothing worse then slipping off your flip flops in the sauna and going to put them back on and burning your foot. The worst. 

4. Magazines, cards, simple cheap entertainment.

5. Pull back your hair, some even cover it to keep it from the harshness of the heat. I like mine pulled back so I can focus on the heat and the calm.

6. Comfy clothes to wear to the Banya and after. You do not want to relax only to put on something uncomfortable and tight after. Go for yoga-ish clothes. Imagine, you might get a massage, you want something cozy to wear home to keep those relaxed muscles relaxed.

7. I like a medium sized tote to carry my stuff to and fro. I also don't worry about a tote in a rented locker and if you need to wash it or it gets wet, it's no big deal.

8. Comfy shoes for after!

9. Ziploc bags are my best friend. I bring 3 with me to the Banya. One for wet clothes, one for dirty clothes and one for my flip flops. You can close them and remove extra air to pack your bag with maximum efficiency. 

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