I had heard from someone that Estonia's cities along the Baltic Sea were known for their spas and specifically, the healing powers of the mud from the sea. I researched this and found a deal that I thought too good to be true. On Sunday I took the bus from Tallinn to the seaside town of Haapsalu. There weren't many tourists as it seems that folks up in these parts already consider it as autumn. The tourist season is over. After getting off at the Haapsalu "bus station" I waited for the local bus. I got on, gave the guy a 2€ coin and he gave me the coin back along with the receipt. I don't know what it is with me and bus drivers.
Anyways, I checked into the Spa Laine hotel. This place got very mixed reviews so I was ready to be disappointed. But for the price, it probably didn't matter. For a total 305€ I got: a single hotel room for 5 nights, breakfast lunch and dinner every day, and 12 spa treatments - 3 each of the four full days. Each day I had either a hydro or manual water massage, a mud treatment, and a 25 minute massage. The food was buffet style and pretty darn good. I would say it was very regional and traditional food. Cute little town within a short walk and bicycles available to rent for 2€. The only bad thing was the smell of the mud. The smell was putrid. Each session I thought I was Andy Dufrene crawling to freedom. I already have trouble getting a date. I don't need to stink. So each day I went to the sauna in the afternoon to make sure I sweated out any lingering mud stench.
On Tuesday it pretty much rained all day but I ventured to town in the afternoon and again after dinner to see the movie "the dark tower". The local civic center gets first run films for the community and shows them in their very large auditorium for 4€. Each movie runs about four nights or so and sometimes there's two different movies on the weekend days. The movie was in its original American version with Estonian and Russian subtitles as Estonia is one of the countries that does not dub movies.
There aren't a lot of people who speak English here and it's the first place I've been in three months where I've encountered a language barrier. I am definitely the only native English speaking guest in this hotel.
A little more on the spa. It takes up the entire first floor of the hotel. Each guest is required to meet with a doctor upon arrival at the hotel and the doctor takes your blood pressure and a brief history to determine your fitness for treatments. At first, I questioned this as being sort of ridiculous, but when I saw the condition of most of the guests, I understood why. I would say the average age of a guest here is about 75 years old if not older. They certainly would not want any incidents. There are about 15 massage rooms, several manual Hydro massage rooms, mud rooms, and just about everything else that you can think of. The equipment is very modern. Across the way in a different building there is a beauty salon where you can pay to have facials, manicures, pedicures, and other types of treatments. The spa is almost like a hospital. You have your schedule printed on the back of your card and you sit in the hallway in front of the appointed room and wait for the technician to come and get you. They run on a very strict time clock and are very efficient. All of the technicians wear lime green T-shirt with white pants and look very professional. There is no room for modesty in front of the technicians because they tell you to strip for pretty much all of your treatments. The atmosphere is so different from the luxurious spas I have been to, it was almost laughable. Having said that, however, I thoroughly enjoyed all of my treatments and it was nice just to put on my bathrobe and go back to my room and relax in between. Everybody is walking the halls in their bathrobes.
Stupid American Tourist strikes again - twice in one day. Sad face. First, I put my piece of bread in one of those revolving toasters in the dining room. I waited and waited. Nothing. I put my face in there when it started smelling a little like burned bread and realized my bread got caught between the rolling ramp and the front of the machine and it was just burning up. No way to retrieve it without getting electrocuted. Since I just got my hair cut and colored and didn't want to risk it being damaged by electrocution, I quickly took a slice of different colored bread (so as not to be implicated if a fire started I could honestly say I had white bread not dark) and went and found a table. Second, I went to the "free admission" folk dance event in the dining room after dinner one night. Two ladies sat at the table with me and got my attention and started saying something to me (Estonian, Russian, Finnish?) and rattling some change on the table - obviously asking me a question about the cost or where to put their money. I said I didn't understand Estonian, only English, but they kept talking to me anyways and I kept saying I don't know and finally gave the universal I don't know shrug. I dreaded what I knew was coming based on this exchange since I had not brought any money with me. I looked around the room and noticed that all the ladies had little change purses or clutch wallets with them. Jeez. Sure enough, the hat got passed around and I, the SAT, had nothing to contribute. Next time I'll know better. Sad face.
Tomorrow (Friday August 25th) I'm off to Parnu which is at the southwestern corner of Estonia on the Baltic Sea. They are supposed to have beautiful beaches. I cannot imagine the sunsets being better.