hot springs!

The first time I visited a hot springs was near Mt. Fuji in Japan.  This was before I had digital camera and was still pretty green as a traveler.  All I remember was that it was hot, smelled like sulfur, and not a place to lap swim.

The next time I had a chance to visit a hot springs was about 8 years later in Arenal, Costa Rica.  Our hotel had a great view of the volcano from our window, as did the pools:


The hot water made lap swimming a little difficult but that didn’t stop us this time!  It felt like swimming in your bathtub!  Their jacuzzis, however, looked like this:


These little spots of oasis had water directly supplied from the mountain.  The water was hot but not unbearable but the smell of sulfur did linger around.

My next experience with hot springs was in the Beitou district in Taipei, Taiwan a few years ago.  To get there, we took the metro to the very end of the line, where we then boarded a separate train to our destination:

koreataiwan2012-3 1051  I love how these trains have paintings on the side to reassure you that you are going the right way.  When we got to our stop, there were all these cute structures at the station to let us know that we have arrived in the land of the hot springs:

koreataiwan2012-3 1062koreataiwan2012-3 1045

We got there late, so we could not enjoy the hot springs outdoors.  But many resorts have indoor spas that you can enjoy all through the night:

koreataiwan2012-3 1064  They have private rooms that are rented by the hour with your own jacuzzi supplied with water from the spring.  How relaxing!  An hour was more than enough in the heat and with the smells of sulfur in a closed space.

Most recently, I visited the hot springs in Papallacta, Ecuador.  Each of the lodges had a hot springs pool right outside their door:

ecuador2015-1 549

If you were not staying overnight in the resort, you could buy a pass to hang out in the public pools that are supplied by the hot water:

ecuador2015-1 571  This is located really high up the Andes mountains where the oxygen supply is low.  Just be aware that the lack of oxygen can cause some shortness of breath and dizziness.  As you sit in the hot pools, make sure you stay dehydrated to keep your heart from working too hard to keep your blood circulating.

Right now, I am in Finland.  I had thought there would be hot springs because it is so cold near the Arctic Circle.  But the existence of the hot springs has more to do with elevation than with temperature.  The Scandinavians, though, love their saunas:

image  They go to them on a regular basis to sweat and cleanse, just like the family at “Oaken’s Trading Post and Sauna” from the movie “Frozen”.    You can find a sauna in pretty much every hotel and there are public sauna houses all over this region.  They have designated areas and times for men and women and it’s a great way to warm up after a day in the cold!

I think a good sweat is a great way to open your pores and purge the toxins of the day.  The heat from these springs (or sauna) really helps to relax your muscles after a long day of travel.  I’m glad  have discovered these!

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