The day before I got sick I went to swim laps at the new Bad Eggenberg. The sports doc also recommended for me to get in the sauna as that might help me with my leg issue. So I paid for swimming and the spa, which is where the saunas were.
Coming from Sweden, I hear the fair share and some when it comes to blonde jokes and other jokes about ‘loose’ Swedish people. I really do not mind, I laugh at it (if it is funny) and it has never bothered me. But I just do not get how the Austrians have been flying under the radar for this long when it comes certain basics?
This is what I am talking about:
So I went to swim laps. I paid the €25 fee, which 10€ was a deposit on the super-duper key and another €7 was refundable if you stayed less than three hours. Anyways, in I go to the wellness area to get changed. What do I find? As usual there is a unisex changing room. I kid you not. I have been to three swim places in Graz and all three ONLY offer one changing room. Men and women change in one big room separated by nothing. There is also no system as to the women go here and the men here. Oh no, it is all in one. I will say that the showers were separated here, that is not always the case…
After turning into prude girl herself, I snuck into my swim suit, wrapped myself in my towel and proceeded to look for the pool. Out in the wellness area I go. Oh my God in heaven. I enter a big wellness room, a bunch of little pools filled with salt water, warm water, cool water and all over fatboys placed where you could lay down and relax. And all over the place are butt naked people walking around. Men and women.
I found a towelled man and asked how to get to the pool as to where he pointed to a little pool next to me where an older man was swimming around naked. I clarified, trying to look somewhere else that I was looking to swim laps, and he pointed me in the right direction. So to get there, I have to walk through the whole wellness area (filled with naked people of all ages), on through the little cafe/bar where naked people are sitting and standing all over and down through the next mixed dressing room before I FINALLY got to the big pool to swim laps.
I swam 1000 meters before I decided to try the saunas out. This time I figured I knew where it was and I would be fine. So back into the wellness area I go. With my towel wrapped tightly around me, I found one sauna which was only occupied by women. Oh, and don’t try to wear your swim suit in a sauna in Austria, the people will wrestle you down and remove it themselves off your body if you would get that incredibly stupid idea. I carefully got out of my swim suit and was just about to close the door behind me into the said sauna with women inside it, when a middle-aged man catches the door and enters right behind me. Not much to do but to sit down in some type of very uncomfortable, not to mention very hot (as in warm) position to try to cover up as much as possible. The man? He flopped himself down completely naked on a bench. Apparently, the women that were in the sauna had been there for a while already and they got up shortly after and left. Instead a whole gang of men enter, one of them were the banker from our local branch. Seriously too much, so I got out and tried another sauna. This time the finnish sauna was empty and I got in there. Of course it was only empty for less than a minute, then a gang, mainly men entered and start to make small talk. Time for the next sauna, this time I tried the steam sauna, thinking maybe you can not see too much in there. That is right, you could see nothing looking in,so I went in, just to find it filled with some type of man club deal going on. I sat in the steam till I got a coughing fit and left. You know, did not want to bother anyone…
Seriously, this mixed sauna concept, and the mixed changing rooms concept? How come we Swedes are seen as sexually explicit and the Austrians, they are known for yodeling and Milka chocolates, quite possibly the schnaps too. I mean I never ever thought I would describe myself as prude, but I am. Especially in comparison to the Austrians.
I got out of there and headed into the showers where I could take a shower ALONE in peace. Then out into the mixed changing rooms again before I met Mr B for a dinner date. He just laughed and laughed about my experience, not getting the big deal. My friend S also laughed and was surprised I had gone at all in the first place. Well, I did not expect THAT when I was told a sauna experience would be good for sore running muscles.I am telling you, culture shock can be pretty exhausting!
(pst. the whole experience lasted less than three hourse so I got to collect the €7).