Monday, December 16, 2013

Turkish baths: awkwardly awesome!

As soon as we mentioned Turkey as a destination, everyone who's been to a hamam (Turkish bath) suggested that we give it a try while we're here. We've been skeptical. It's a little pricey, all the tourists do it and we try to avoid those types of things... oh, and also, it involves a stranger bathing you.


But yesterday was an anniversary of sorts and when our hosts explained exactly what was involved and gave us the afternoon off, we decided to splurge. They recommended Sultan Hamam in Calis Beach and kindly dropped us off on their way into town.

So exactly what is involved? Here's a quick rundown.  I should note that Sultan Hamam wasn't a 100% authentic experience (we should've been in separate rooms and not wearing anything, and my bather should've been female) but sharing a room definitely enhanced the entertainment and enjoyment factors.

After changing into our swimsuits, sandals and a peştemal (a colorful checked cloth you tie around your waist) we sat in a blessedly warm sauna for 10 minutes while enjoying a fizzy cool lemon beverage. Next we were escorted into the bath area, a large cement-tiled square in the middle of the room with faucets on the walls all around. We laid on our backs along two edges of the square while the staff scrubbed the heck out of our skin - after three and a half months of mediocre showers and two weeks handling horse manure and wood shavings, the exfoliation felt WONDERFUL!

A quick rinse and we were laid back down.  The guys loaded pillowcases with olive soap, spun them around to create bubbles, and squeezed the lather over us for the cleanse. (You know that slightly awkward feeling you get when you go to the dentist and they floss your teeth for you? "Uh... I'm almost 39 years old, really, I can handle this.  Thanks."  That's kind of how I felt the whole time they were scrubbing - don't get me wrong, it was lovely!  Just odd.)  A little massaging of the hand-chop variety, another rinse, and we were done.

cleaning up real nice

Depending on the establishment, you can also opt for shampooing, head massages, facials, oil massages, intense foot scrubs - all kinds of additional pampering. For our first time we decided to keep it simple, but I might go in for a facial at some point to repair all the damage from negative-degrees-celcius and maybe-washing-my-face-every-other-day-(maybe).

To round out our monthiversary afternoon off, we took a walk along Calis Beach and stuffed ourselves silly at Pasamzade.  

not pictured:
one ginormous lavash with dips of olive, yogurt
one cheese kebap
one mixed pide
one tomato/cucumber side salad

We waddled to the bus station and made our way back to Uzumlu to find that our kind hosts had picked up a celebratory cake... we somehow managed to make room for a few bites of brandy chicken and this delicious treat:

on a cake!
we love turkey!

For our next monthiversary we'll be in Spain.  Tickets have been purchased, plans are forming.  Not sure how we'll top strange men rubbing us with olive soap and sparkler cake - but we're gonna try!

1 comment:

  1. i really want to try one of those places where they sit you in a pool of tiny fish that eat all of the dirt off of you