Who doesn’t make a beeline straight for a Turkish Bath when in Istanbul? I mean really, I’ve waited for this as long as I’ve known I would be here.
It’s my third day in Istanbul and for the first time I’m not walking around like a zombie, but zombie-like from jet lag or not, it hasn’t stopped me from walking the streets of the ancient city soaking up every square inch of the sights, sounds and aromas. I’m loving Istanbul.
Today was the day for my Turkish Bath. I had no idea what to expect so I marched down into the coolness of a Turkish bathhouse and out of the midday Istanbul heat. I could feel the noisy city streets fade behind me as I entered a space lost in antiquity. After paying for the service I was given a locker, pair of disposable underwear and a cotton wrap. That’s when I knew I should have researched this a bit before I went.
With just a pair of black undies and cotton wrap around my body, I made my way into a luxurious room of white marble that was well worn from over 500 years of bathers. In the centre is a giant round marble slab called the central stone. I removed my wrap (like the other ladies) and lay it on the stone naked (except for undies) for about half an hour. The marble may be hard, but my body sunk deep into it as the misty warm air wrapped itself around me and cradled me into total relaxation. Then the process began.
So, this is really the only way I can describe what came next. Remember when your kids were babies and you bathed them in the sink; we sudsed them down, scrubbed behind the ears and every other part of their body? Well, that’s what a Turkish bath is like, except for adults. It’s a beautiful room with a bunch of naked women laying on slabs of soft white marble being scrubbed down by a motherly figure in black underwear (unfortunately, no bra!). Then she walks you (with towel in her hand not on my body!) into a little marble chamber where you sit on the floor and she proceeds to throw buckets of water over you. It may not sound like it, but it’s an incredibly luxurious feeling. Then the good part – you go into the hot tubs for as long as you like.
After the hot tubs you can go back to the marble slab or rinse in the showers. I did the latter. While in the showers you dispose of the black undies and wrap yourself in a towel and proceed to get dressed. Instead, I was having a foot reflexology and didn’t know not to remove my undies.
So with a towel wrapped around my body and hair dripping down my shoulders, I get walked into a room where another women proceeds to remove my towel for me and motions for me to get on the bed. I lie down, totally naked and she puts a warm towel over my head and walks away!! I’m thinking this is the wrong end but wait patiently anyway. She finally returns and puts a larger towel over my body and starts what is the most glorious massage of my feet. I think I’m going back tomorrow!
Sorry there are no pictures inside the Turkish Bath – it will just have to be up to your imagination!