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Turkish Bath

Once you have removed all your clothing and wrapped the cotton cloth around you sarong style like a skirt, you are ready to go.

Your attendant will ask you if you need a soap, towel or shampoo. Be sure to bring your own. Some baths do offer them, but they are expensive and not high quality.

The attendants may not speak much English so communicating what you would like – a bath and massage, or just bath -- may be a challenge. I was given the choice of bathing myself or receiving a scrub, or massage. I said yes to all options!

Working Up A Sweat In a Turkish Bath

I was taken to a warm, humid room with a raised stone platform (goebektas) in the center, surrounded by bathing alcoves, in pretty coloured quartz tiles. The tiles remove static electricity from the air, and help to relax the mind and body. The light, diffused through glass in the ceiling is soft and relaxing.

I lay on the platform, (but you can sit if you prefer) which is heated, and worked up a sweat. My attendant then lead me to one of the basins, and then I was scrubbed cleaner than I ever have been, and again. The attendant used a coarse mitt to remove layers of dead skin, then came the soap. She used a lacy cloth, like an icing bag, then blew through it to create bubbles. I was covered from head to toe with white frothy bubbles. My hair was piled high, a bit like Marge Simpson’s and I enjoyed a wonderful scalp massage.

Next, I was doused in warm water again and my attendant disappeared. I later learned that was to allow me to clean my private areas myself. Total nudity is fine here, but some women wore underwear.

 

Now it was time for the massage! Back to the stone platform and she pummeled me, quite roughly but it felt good. After the massage I was handed towels and then taken to the cold room, to cool down, and to drink tea.

After my rest, it was time to head back to the cubicle to get dressed. Although a scrub and massage generally takes an hour and a half, you can take as much time as you need.

Not everyone is keen for the real Turkish bath experience and to struggle with communicating what you would like. I am told at some tourist hammams, cleanliness can also be an issue.