Oooooooh, Turkish Bath


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Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul
July 13th 2007
Published: October 22nd 2017
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Geo: 41.1075, 28.7079

It was something we really wanted to try and were really looking forward to, but didn't know what to expect: the traditional Turkish Hamam. We (Kate and I) chose to go to a 400+ year old hamam that was designed by the preeminent architect of the Ottoman era: Sinan. I thought the architecture would be more impressive and, I imagine it is in the men's section. This hamam and most others are segregated either by area or by time/day. Since we are women, we didn't get to see the more ornate side. It's still up in the air whether or not Mike will go and report back on how the other half bathes.

When you go in you select what you want to do off the menu. I picked the scrub and soapy massage. For additional money you can also get an oil massage. For less you can go sit in the sauna and scrub yourself. We went through the locker room, stripped to our undies and stowed everything else in our locker. Then we took our towels into the main bath room where there is a huge, flat marble disk that you lie on and sweat. Up above is a dome that has circles cut out of the ceiling acting as mini skylights.

And so we sweat and looked around. It wasn't immediately clear how the scrubbing, soaping thing would happen. After about 20 minutes a squad of Turkish women in their underwear came in and started repositioning people on the slab and scrubbing them down and sudsing them up. Kate went first and it was fun to watch. Then I got exfoliated, rinsed, massaged and had my hair washed. When we were done we were clean, clean, clean. I think it would be more fun and less stressful next time because we'll know more what to expect. I was glad that I brought a hairbrush. Next time I'd also bring dry underwear to wear home. I had read mixed things about wearing underwear in the hamam. In this particular one, they had signs dictating that it would be worn, so that wasn't an issue. I'm sure you will not be surprised to read that there will be no pictures with this particular portion of the entry.

This morning we went to Dolmabache Palace. It was very opulent, but I can't say that we enjoyed it very much. If you want to go in you have to take a tour. The whole thing was very rushed, very stuffy and kind of expensive. If I had to drop something off my schedule, that would probably be it. We did, however, see the bed in which Ataturk died, so it bookended nicely with our visit to his mausoleum in Anit Kabir.

Have I mentioned that we are treated each morning to Turkish MTV at breakfast? If there is anything more sad than white guys trying to do ghetto rap, it's Turkish guys trying to do ghetto rap. There have also been a few videos aired during which I felt compelled to cover Josh's eyes. The content is more akin to what I would expect to see late night on a pay TV channel.

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