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The Oslo floating sauna evolution

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Mikkel Aaland gets the credit for helping me experience the Oslo floating sauna evolution.

“You really need to extend your trip and come see what’s happening here.” And he was right.

Mikkel was referring to the after affects from the recent UK Sauna Summit. Why fly back to the US when I could hop over to Norway, check out the sauna scene there, then head back home? A no brainer decision in my book. And so I was able to enjoy 25 saunas in 9 days in both countries. And a good chunk of these saunas were along the fjord in Oslo harbor.

Home Base

Oslo train station is the hub of Oslo. Scattered about are iconic buildings and attractions, including the Oslo Library and Opera House. And no better place to set up home base for your own Oslo sauna tour than the Comfort Hotel Grand Central. After my arrival to Oslo by train, I actually walked right past the hotel entrance. The lobby is tucked within the station, with lobby access straight out to the large courtyard fountain right in the center of town.

The Comfort Hotel Grand Central staff are all super friendly and accommodating. They actually seem to appreciate answering questions. And many of the questions are surely overlapping. “When is the next train to the airport?” And for this, with a smile and a finger point to the far lobby wall, all the information is right here in the lobby, updated to the minute:

pointing out the next train to the airport at Comfort Hotel Grand Central, Oslo

SALT

Imaging a party complex with food stations, bars, performance areas.. and several saunas. It’s real. And exists at SALT in Oslo. “If I were in my 20’s, I’d be taking saunas at SALT.” And that’s the vibe. Younger people hitting sauna rounds, listening to music, partying, and enjoying life. No sauna session at SALT is complete until partaking in the law of löyly compliant SALT àrdna. Large event sauna, once claimed to be the largest sauna in the world.

Getting ready for a round at SALT àrdna, multi level event sauna.

Oslo Badstuforening

No Oslo floating sauna trip is complete without experiencing any one of the 15 floatings saunas (and counting) as part of Oslo Badstuforening (Oslo Sauna Association). The saunas are set up in a couple different clusters. I was able to enjoy multiple saunas. Each sauna is special in its own way. Artistic, floating, and awaiting your presence.

Oslo Badstuforeng’s Spiritual patina saunas blending in with modern architectural front forward saunas.

One can easily be taken by the saunas running the spectrum of spiritual patina and architectural modernism. Examples include, Oslo Badstuforeng’s Snipe. Made out of old boats. Click the link to see more photos, but the focus is on reuse. And on the other hand, you can lose yourself with architectural modernism on the upper bench in Oslo Badstuforening’s Albatrossen. Biotrope Architects design. Full glass double door.

Oslo Badstuflorening’s floating sauna cluster, facing the Oslo Opera House.

And to learn more about the amazing success and growth of Oslo Sauna Association, please listen to my soon to be published podcast with the Director and her staff.

Sauna Talk with Ragna, Secretary General, and Oslo Badstufening (lunch sold separately).

Mad Goats

How cool to meet up with Dean. And learn about their business. Kayaking, scuba diving, and floating sauna-ing. What impressed me most was Dean and his brother’s dedication to helping keep the precious Oslo Harbor clean. Volunteers meet every Sunday for a free cruise and deep sea dive, while collecting debris along the way.

How cool to meet up with Dean. And learn about their business. Kayaking, scuba diving, and floating sauna-ing.

Brother Dean, talking cross seasonal sauna, kayaking, scuba diving… and community serving.

Kok Sauna

You can tell that a Finn was behind the design of the fleet of saunas at Kok Sauna. Here we have a cool down room adjacent to the hot rooms. Here, private rental guests have plenty of room to change in and out of their “swimming costumes.” And with winter deployment, just as grocery store entrances are all outfitted with double sets of doors, sauna patrons are less apt to yell out “close the door” to less thermally consciously aligned sauna patrons who may like to chit chat with the hot room door open.

Checking in at Kok Sauna, Oslo Norway

The fleet at Kok Sauna offer the special feature of providing a guided captain, to bring private rental sauna guests out into the Oslo Fjord. During one cold weather voyage, Kok Captain Nick happened to spot something odd in the water. Two people bobbing atop what turned out to be a Tesla, that took a wrong turn and ended up splashing into the chilly brackish fjord.

Casually, Nick guided the floating sauna over to the wreckage, and helped bring the two cold wet survivors on board. Here, Nick tells us about the day, and how the guests felt so grateful to recover on the sauna bench.

Talking with Nick about the unintended Tesla floating sauna with intended Kok floating sauna.

The Emotional Rising Tide

Departure day, back at the hotel, I packed up my gear and shared a friendly “Ha Det” (goodbye) with the the smiling staff at the Comfort Hotel Grand Central. A familiar welt of emotion began to rise, from deep inside. This happens every time I leave Europe. The emotion hits me like a summer rain storm from emotions of saying goodbye to new friends, and a cluster of formidable sauna experiences. Saying goodbye to a country and continent which feels very much home to me.

Emotions build from a dead calm to a bucket drenching. Hoisting my backpack, with 4 minutes to spare before the next train to the airport, my thoughts moved over to the fleet of floating saunas moored in the Oslo fjord. At this moment, all of the sauna bathers, finding their own place in the heat. Then, jumping, diving, or stepping down the ladder into the cool, refreshing brackish water.

Their universal smiles of joy, endorphin rushing, hot to cold, cold to heat, and chilling between rounds. Multiple different sauna companies, in harmony.

Collaboration, not competition. Abundance, not scarcity.

Is it a cultural difference? Nobody owns sauna. Everybody owns sauna. The rising sauna tide lifts all boats.

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