Bulgarian Bizarro: Steamed to Perfection in the Balkans

The air is dense with steam as I take a step down the concrete staircase. An overweight Bulgarian man with a thick mustache gives me a quick half-glance before ignoring me completely. The heat shoots up my leg and over my naked nether region as I submerge myself into the hot water. Across the bath are my two compatriots, Josh Anderson and Jake Ward, both sporting glazed and confused expressions. 

Dimitar Dimitrov, author of Skiing the Balkans, told me to visit this communist-era bathhouse at the outskirts of Yakoruda. The building’s white concrete facade and chipping lead-based paint disguised its true wonder from the outside world. 

Earlier, when we opened the front door, an older Bulgarian babushka and two younger counterparts had stared at me, perplexed. Nothing in the lobby exclaimed, “Best bath in all of Bulgaria.” Immediately, the babushka pointed our female companions—Alexis Machovsky and Lindsey Felch—to a separate side of the building…

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