Photo by Charlotte Eberwein
Teremok brings traditional Russian sauna to Berlin – a three-step process of steam, flagellation and relaxation.
Ever wondered what the Russians actually do in the sauna with those birch branches they call veniki? For the price of a half-hour S-Bahn ride to the eastern wilds of Marzahn, a €10 entrance fee and another €5 for an actual venik, you’ll get the answer.
Welcome to Teremok, Berlin’s best imitation of a real Russian banya. Enter the shabby-looking building and you’re met with photographic wallpaper of a white birch forest, an ancient cash register, and a row of trolleys crammed with sauna accessories. There’s none of that promiscuous German gender-mingling here. True to Russian tradition, the banya alternates women-only and men-only days; mixed groups are welcome to hire private rooms (€50/6 people/3 hours or €60/8 people/3 hours).
Teremok offers two rooms that use the traditional semi-dry steam (something between a wet Turkish hamam and a dry Finnish sauna) with temperatures of around 90°C and 110°C respectively. The hotter room is intense; stick to the lower bench if you want to survive. The ritual includes three sessions of intensive venik flagellation (of yourself and others) in the steam rooms – thus improving circulation – flanked with three cooling-off sets in the next-door shower space, where you can pour a wooden bucket of cold water over yourself by pulling on a rope.
Once you’re done, park yourself alongside the crew of middle-aged regulars in the relaxation space just off the entrance and watch Russian music videos while drinking beer and snacking on salt-dried fish (vobla). “S lyogkim parom!” (“Have a light steam!”), as they say.
Teremok, Märkische Allee 388, Marzahn, S-Bhf Ahrensfelde, Mon-Sun 9-22 (check www.sauna-teremok.de for men/women days)
Originally published in issue #122, December 2013.