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To the Roof of Europe

Our hitch-hiker, now identified as Kate joined us back at the car and so off we headed northwards to Inari, a municipality in Finnish Lapland. By now, we were tired, so found a nearby relatively inexpensive (by Finnish standards) 4 berth log cabin next to a small lake. Kate told us about the wonders of saunas and asked us if we would like to try it. My brother declined, but I thought “When in Finland, do what the Finns do”. So there we were. She knew what she was doing with stoking up the sauna and it wasn’t long before I was sweating my tits and bits off. “We need more steam” she announced, as more birch twigs were creating steam thicker than a lemming jumping off a cliff. Kate then said to me “come on, let’s jump in the lake”. She left me sweating as I declined the offer, came back into the sauna, put on some more birch twigs, by which time my underwear was drenched in all the steam. I succumbed and after a second offer of jumping in the lake joined her. It was a truly invigorating experience…

 10 seconds passed.

 Then I ran out of the lake quicker than you can say elk! The next few days, I do believe I smelt of birch twigs.

The sauna normally operates at between 60 and 95ºC (140 to 203ºF). The word also refers to the activity of sitting in the heated room and sweating profusely, often leaving and returning to the heat several times (In Kate’s case - yes, in my case – no). The sauna was originally a semi-religious exercise pioneered by the Finns.

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