One quintessential Turkish experience is the Turkish Bath. I’d gathered the courage to do one while here many years ago and greatly enjoyed the adventure. So, one afternoon I recruited several of our travel companions to join me for the experience. We promised “no cameras” so the photos I’m including are ones I pulled off the Internet.
You may be wondering what happens at a Turkish bath. First of all, the building is called a Hammam. There are different kinds - those found in modern 5 star hotels and the traditional. Of course, we went for the traditional (and cheap!). As we entered the men were directed on direction and the women another. We were taken to changing rooms and instructed (in sign language) to remove all our clothing except our panties and given a large towel to wrap ourselves. We were then taken to the sıcaklık, a large dome decorated with small glass windows that create a half-light. The room contains a large marble stone calledgöbek taşı (tummy stone) which is heated from below so the room is very warm and humid. We were directed to wet ourselves with the water from the fountains around the sides and to lie on the marble slab. Off come the towels along with the inhibitions!
We giggled, then sweat, then relaxed and enjoyed the experience. About the time we figured we were cooked to medium-rare the attendants disturbed our slumber an took us to the warm room where the scrubbed us with luffa-like gloves until layers of skin cells pealed off our bodies. Next they lathered us with more soap suds than a bubble bath and ultimately messaged us from head to toe. Last they rinsed us with warm water and sent us to the cool room to relax before dressing and meeting the men outside.
- Is it intimidating? a little until you figure out what’s going on.
- Is the message painful no, but maybe the attendants took it easy on us because we were foreigners.
- Would we do it again? ABSOLUTLEY!