Stinky but healthy

Haapsalu's most famous industry has gone through a lot of change since Dr. Hunnius opened his sanatorium in 1825. Nowadays, instead of St. Petersburg nobility, elderly Finns make up the lion's share of the town's resort clients. And there are no more actual mud baths, since today's philosophy holds that immersing oneself in the hot stuff just isn't healthy. Instead, patients suffering from rheumatism, joint inflammations, chronic skin problems and a host of other diseases are placed in an indented, plastic-lined bed while someone pours a plastic bucket of mud on them and spreads a layer of the goop all over their body. Blankets keep the patient, and the mud, warm for 25 - 30 minutes, and then it's shower time.

The uninitiated should be warned that hereabouts mud is considered serious treatment rather than recreation. And it doesn't smell that nice.

The town's three mud resorts also offer treatments ranging from aromatic massage to laser therapy. All will provide hotel-style accommodation without treatment when they have free rooms, but guests should keep in mind that facilities are non-smoking.


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