Tag Archives: fail

How (not) to go to the sauna – revisited

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Remember this?

This is Malmö’s kallbadhuset, a sauna-and-bath complex located at the end of a 200m-long pier. Last December, a friend and I thought it would be a neat idea to go to the sauna – it was the middle of winter in Sweden of all places, so it was only fit. The “fun” trip turned out to be a nightmare involving getting lost in a construction site, spraining an ankle, incredible disappointment when we found ourselves before closed doors because of misinformation on the sauna’s websiteand ultimately pleasant surprise when receiving two vouchers for a free sauna visit after complaining about said misinformation. So when a friend of mine came over last weekend, we thought we’d finally cash those vouchers and enjoy an afternoon of bathing.

Turns out…

… the vouchers are for a different place.

See, when we initially looked up the opening hours for the bath house, we actually were looking at the website of ANOTHER bath house, which coincidentally has the same name. But not the same opening hours. So when we found ourselves before closed doors it was not because there were two websites, one of which was not updated, it was BECAUSE THERE ARE 2 BATH HOUSES!

So basically I complained to the second bath house that the first bath house was not open during their hours.

Derp.

Standing in front of the cashier with my totally worthless vouchers, I felt immensely stupid.

We still enjoyed our (paid) visit though. I am used to sauna complexes with literally 10+ types of sauna scattered over a domain, while here there were only 2 sauna’s, and just plenty of room to sunbathe, but the atmosphere of the place is so unique – located almost literally in the middle of the sea, the whole complex gives you a stunning view over the water wherever you are, and it’s such a charming, quiet, peaceful place. In addition, men and women’s sections were separated, which at first I found a bit stupid (and odd… it’s bloody Sweden! they don’t even have separate restrooms!), but which, in strange way, did make the whole experience a whole lot more relaxing. The “best” thing though? Cooling off after the sauna in the sea. There’s nothing quite like a 10ºC (50F) salty bath to arrest your blood flow ;).

I still got 2 free vouchers for a bath house I don’t even know the location of though… .

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How (not) to go to the sauna

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This looks great, doesn’t it?

It is Malmö’s kallbadhuset, a sauna-and-bath complex which is located at the end of a 200m-long pier. I’ve been a die-hard sauna fan ever since I discovered 3 years ago that what they call “sauna” in a 3-star family skiing resort (read: cramp 8 people wearing bathing suits in a 6-person sauna cabin) doesn’t even remotely resemble a true sauna experience : a whole day of naked bathing, sleeping, sauna’ing, relaxing, more sleeping, more sauna, and more relaxing. Yes, my dear blogging-friends, when I go to the sauna, I go to the sauna. And while Kallbadhuset is probably too small to be spending a whole day in, I still felt I needed to try it out. I had suggested it to T when she was here, but she inexplicably didn’t feel like it, but fortunately NR did when she was here last week. Opening hours were 12-22 according to the website, which left us some time for Christmas shopping.

And then we ran into RS. Well, we didn’t so much run into him as arranged to meet him, but anyway. Hey, if a cute Spanish guy texts to ask if you wanna go for lunch, what’s a girl supposed to do? (and yes, I realize I’m in a committed relationship. but I can enjoy what I see, right? but NR isn’t.) So we took him Christmas shopping, and we went for lunch, and for a drink, and by the time he left us where we were it was almost 5 o’clock. Not exactly what we’d anticipated – sure, the sauna was still open, but we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the great view of the sea which was really one of the main reasons why we wanted to go to this particular sauna. But it was bloody cold and since we’d been looking forward to it all day (and the day before), we decided to go anyway. Entrance was 60 SEK (around $8) so it would still be worth it.

Now, I didn’t take a map with me – or rather, I did, but as it turned out, the sauna wasn’t on it. Thank God for my photographic memory so I still remembered what Google Maps had said the night before. So let’s take a look at what trip we were supposed to do from the station:

Now let’s take a look at the tour we actually did:

It was -3ºC (26F) and we were walking on a small peninsula. I swear, if I had had balls, they would’ve been blown off even before they could freeze.

These are the times I’m happy I’m a woman. You don’t have to be embarrassed to ask for directions.

The friendly bartender at the only café we were able to locate suggested he’d call us a cab, but armed with his beautifully drawn map we were pretty sure we could make it. And sure enough, half an hour and a sprained ankle later (did I mention that whole peninsula was a huge, unlit construction site?), we found it. Extending from the snowy coast, over the floe-covered sea (I mean ice. on the sea. Google Translate says it’s floe. Google Images says it’s floe. I always thought /floe/ was an infectious disease, but who am I to argue with Google?), was the pier leading to eternal heat and happiness. Or at least some hours of it.

It was closed.

No joke.

You don’t wanna hear the sauna is closed if you’ve just walked over an hour in the windy cold craving for warmth. But some things are what they are, and the sauna was closed. The fact that I wrote an e-mail of complaint right after we got home illustrates how very pissed I was – I will usually rather eat a cold, dry steak than even think of complaining about it.

And look what I got:

Hello

We apologize for the mistake with poorly update website.

We would like you visit Bjerred Saltsjöbad again but without paying for a sauna and bath.

I would need a postal adress to you and how many people were thought to bath so I can send gift card for bath and sauna.

Thanks for your email.

Free sauna!

Somehow, this made it all worth it.

(turns out… there are 2 websites… we looked at the wrong one…)

Nil Volentibus Arduum

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“Nil volentibus arduum” – nothing is impossible if you really want it -, with these words (not coincidently sharing the acronym with the name of his party), Bart De Wever claimed his electoral victory last June. 83 days later, it appears that the quote doesn’t apply to the formation of a stable federal government.

Now we aren’t panicking just yet: in 2007 it took Yves Leterme 192 days to form a federal government. An interim-government, that was, just so the most urgent matters could be actually dealt with. So 83 days is really just peanuts. And for those wondering how come a country without a government doesn’t end up in chaos, let me give you a brief introduction to my home country, Belgium.

Geograpical overview of the regions and communities. Each of these have their own government.


It’s not really big – 30,528 square kilometres and a population of nearly 11 million people. In the north (Flanders), they speak Dutch*, in the south (Wallonia) they speak French, in the east they speak German and Brussels is a bilingual enclave in the Dutch-speaking part. This may seem a little bit complicated to organize government meetings and such, but really, there is an easy solution for that: just give everyone their own government. And thus there is a Flemish government, a Wallon government, a Brussels government, a Dutch government (though this is fused with the Flemish one), a French government, and a German government. And then a federal government for the whole country, to keep things together. This is no joke: 6 governments we have in this tiny weeny country of mine. It may look like a complicated situation (okay, it is), but the result is that there are enough governing powers left to keep our world turning even in the absence of a federal government.

So what’s up with that federal government? Well, elections were last June, and on the Flemish side NV-A won. This right-wing party basically wants an independent Flanders, i.e. the end of Belgium. On the French side PS was the winner, a left-wing party. Now if you say “win”, it’s not the American type of “win”, where the 2-party system inherently leads to 1 winner and 1 loser. Nono, we have several parties (I believe last June I had some 13 to choose from). Thus, a winner has maybe 20-25% – in one half of the country, since elections are split (also). Therefore, NV-A and PS cannot form a government on their own. Come in SP.A (the Flemish counterpart of PS), CD&V and CDH (the christian democrats), and Groen! and Ecolo (the green parties from either side). 7 political parties, from right wing over center to pretty socialist and left, have to form a government which is capable of sorting the federal finances (in short, taxes flow to the partial governments, leaving the federal government with nothing to actually work with), solving issues with the borders of the capital region (where the number of French speaking people in Flemish communities often largely exceeds the number of Dutch-speaking people), deal with the economic crisis and save A LOT of money while doing so. Oh, and change the constitution, to be able to do all of the above. I understand this can’t be easy, but hey, we’re grown ups, surely we can work something out?

They were optimistic, all 7 of them, before summer. We would have a government by September. It would be a historical government, and all those long-lasting conflicts from before I was born would be resolved. And it must be said – the climate in which negotiations took place was MUCH better than it was 3 years ago.

But 83 days later, negotiations have failed.
There is no viable alternative.

“Je suis désolée, Elio”, Bart De Wever said to the president of the PS, Elio Di Rupo.

Not just you, Bart, not just you.

The lion on the left is representative of Flanders, the rooster on the right of Wallonia.

* Some people insist on calling it Flemish. It is like saying American is a different language from British. Please.

ADDENMDUM 22/9: here’s a nice little video (in English) explaining on the regions and communities. It might help you to understand that… well, it’s too complicated to understand.