I visited for the first time the Turkish and Russian Bath House in the East Village on Saturday. I had no idea what to expect.
The first thing you do upon entering is place your wallet in a lock box. The key you get in return is both for your lock box and your locker. They provide you everything, sandals, shorts, towel, robe. You can buy water (or fill your bottle) and an assortment of cheap Russian food.
They don’t fry the pelmeni, which is a substantial bummer.
So you change in the no frills locker room and follow a flight of stairs down to a buffet of hot doors. Russian room for max heat. Another for dry heat. Steam room. Steam with aromatherapy.
In the middle of the Russian room is what I can best describe as a box of water and a few buckets. You douse yourself to maintain longevity in the room. There seems to be a silent agreement toward a little showmanship when dousing yourself. If you sit near the box, you’ll catch enough spray that you never need get up.
A story I’ve long told myself is that I handle cold better than heat. My roots make this unsurprising. Sitting in a 185 degree room quickly got challenging. So the best I could do is challenge myself to fully submerge in the pool at least once.
I did it. Reminded me of the Polar Plunge on New Year’s day 2003. Your legs get the coldest because they’re in the water the longest. It felt kind of good, if you’re into that thing. Probably good for hangovers or anger. I think it’s good to challenge yourself, especially when you’re in a personally challenging environment. Even if it’s a simple challenge you keep to yourself. Life outside your comfort zone gets very interesting very quickly. It’s good to get familiar with being there.
I wouldn’t fight to go back, but I’m glad I went and enjoyed the opportunity to experience the bath house for the first time.