Sandanski, Bulgaria. Sunday: marginal redemption

Sunday morning I made sure to get to breakfast before it turned into lunch (which was had happened on Saturday).  My stomach was still off, so I didn’t eat much.  But at least it was free this time!

I packed my stuff up, since check-out was at noon and my massage was at 11. I decided to check out the town around the hotel a little, since I hadn’t been outside since Friday.  There was a nice pedestrian area with shops and cafes, so I set off on a walk.  The town was much more lively on a Sunday morning than Belgrade was, which I thought was interesting.

Hotel (Interhotel Sandanski)

Town of Sandanski

Pedestrian mall

While I was out I walked by a few shoe stores, and one was selling flip-flops!  I bought some for 8 Lev (about 4 Euros).  I also bought a coke for the trip back to Prishtina.  I made sure to get back to the hotel in time for my massage.

I arrived at the spa desk at 10:55, and a girl lead me into the spa area.  We walked into a hallway, and there was a man standing in the hallway, wearing only a towel around his waist.  I thought he was another patron, waiting for his massage.  Nope.  He was my masseuse.  Oh.

Massage table

He led me into a small room with a waist-high mosaic table.  It was warmed, and had a few drains in the center of the table.  He told me to undress.  I asked if I could have a towel or something (his English was minimal, my Bulgarian is non-existent), and he handed me one.  Then he left for a few minutes.  I undressed, laid down on the table, and draped the towel over myself.  The table was nice and warm.

Soon the masseuse came back, and said something in Bulgarian.  I understood that I was laying the wrong way.  I went to flip from my stomach to my back, but he said something else, and I figured that I was in the wrong direction.  So I awkwardly switched my head and feet to the other sides of the table, still on my stomach.  Then he took my towel off completely.  I was naked.  He was wearing a towel.  It was awkward.

He used a small shower head to spray my legs and back, and then put a smaller towel covering my torso.  The first part of the massage was exfoliation.  At first I thought he was using a soap scrub, but there was no scratchy residue.  He was using exfoliating mitts.  He scrubbed my legs, my back, and my arms, and then told me to flip over.  Then he scrubbed the front of my legs, my torso, and my arms.  It was a combination of a massage and a body scrub, and it did feel really nice.  That took about fifteen minutes.

Then he ran some water into a basin, and swished a bar of soap around for quite a while until it became all sudsy.  Starting at my legs again, he used a small bowl to pour the soap water on me, and then massaged again, this time with no scrub mitts.  The washing massage was a little longer, although it was the same process as scrub massage.  And I realized why the masseuse was only wearing a towel: it was a really wet massage!  All that water and spray—he would have gotten soaked.  Still, I think I would have preferred for him to wear swim trunks or something.

Basin with soapy water

After the massage he left, and I took a shower in the back of the room to rinse off all the suds.  Then I dressed, and headed back out.  I ran into the masseuse in the hallway, and he was fully dressed, wearing white scrubs.  Less awkward.

Now that I had flip-flops I decided to go swimming.  The water was warm, and I just really like floating around.  I swam for a half hour or so outside, and then laid on a chaise lounge and dried off.  The sun started to feel hot on my skin, and I left so I wouldn’t get sunburned.

Requisite flip-flops (and awesome forced perspective—how huge does my knee look?!)

I was then able to get my check-out delayed until 3:30, which was really nice.  Even though I was packed up, I went upstairs and took a nap.  Then I wandered downstairs, payed my bill, and headed towards the bus home.  Waiting to board the bus I finally met some fellow travelers.  I was so sick on Friday that I hadn’t really talked to anyone.

Fortunately the ride home was better.  I took a dose of dramamine in the morning on Sunday, and one right before the trip.  I had a soda to sip on.  I rested my head on the seat, which minimized how much my head bobbed around.  Also we didn’t get lost, so the trip was a manageable 5 hours.

Well, so much for a relaxing spa weekend…


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