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Saunas Are Finland’s Best Diplomatic Weapon | Radio Free


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Finland also uses saunas to create a positive working environment for government staffers. Located in a wealthy neighborhood in west London, the UK embassy is a white, stucco-covered pile of a building. Inside the grand facade, the sauna is tucked away in the basement, beyond a small grey-tiled shower room. The tiny, wood-panelled cube has two-tiered benches that can comfortably fit about four people on either side of a small stove. Unlike at the embassy in Washington DC, only the staff uses the London embassy’s sauna. This isn’t because Finland prefers the US to the UK. When I visited the sauna last month, Pekka Isosomppi, the UK embassy’s press counselor, said Britain’s prudishness and penchant for coffee dates makes London ill-suited for socializing in the nude.

The embassies insist you won’t find sex in Finnish saunas, let alone in diplomatic saunas, although some people outside Finland still associate Finnish saunas with embraces in the dark. “We find that sacrilegious; we find that almost blasphemous,” Pekka said, when I asked him about that perception. “I find it quite offensive actually.”

Methinks the embassies doth protest too much.

There would be less war if more people took a hot soak together!

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