Dark and steamy. Like my soul.
“A great sense of freedom and well-being permeated me. All my tiredness had gone and I felt strong enough to lift a mountain.”
–Alexander Dumas, 1858 (after visiting the Tbilisi sulfur baths)
Tbilisi’s downtown sulfur springs are responsible for several bath houses dating back more than 500 years. Both Pushkin and Alexander Dumas praised them, and according to one website, they are “also good from the view of point of urologic problem arrangement.”
Another site provided this helpful tidbit: “The service of the rubbers, known from time immemorial, has again been included in the service packet. They work individually for gentlemen and ladies. Different rubbers serve the common compartments and the private ones.”
Well I should hope so.
I’ve been a fan of the Russian banya since my first experience in Kazakhstan in 1997, when my naked host-grandfather first beat the hell out of me with birch leaves and then exfoliated my back as though he were power sanding a backyard deck. Since then I’ve tried to find good baths in the places where it’s not considered weird: the former Soviet Union; the Middle East; Chelsea, MA.
But Tbilisi’s the only place I’ve ever gone consistently, with a small group of friends after work every Friday, and thus it holds a special fondness for me.
So if you’re looking to arrange your urologic problem, or just sweat in the sauna, plunge into a marble ice pool, and then chill out in the warm sulfur spring bath, Tbilisi may be the place for you. Especially if you’re sick and tired of your rubbers being used in the “common compartment.”
“Not since my birth have I witnessed such luxuriousness as at the Tbilisi baths.”— Aleksandr Pushkin, 1829