Over the weekend, I flew to Istanbul to visit my friend Kristi, otherwise known as KrIstanbul. Clever right? Check her out at kristanbul2015.wordpress.com.
We made the tourist rounds all of Friday, marveling at the magnificent Hagia Sophia and Istanbul’s numerous mosques, so Saturday morning we decided to indulge in a Turkish Bath or Hammam.
I honestly did not know exactly what to expect from a Hammam, and in retrospect I should have Googled it.
At the Hammam, I changed into a towel and sandals, with only a thong underneath. Kristi and I entered a warm light room, entirely of marble and were greeted by two Turkish women in bras, shorts and crocs, who immediately pulled off our towels and retied them around our waists. They began splashing us with hot water, and then led us to a warm marble slab to relax on for twenty minutes. At this point, I was as disoriented as you must be reading this.
The women then came back and hurried us to another warm marble slab to sit on, each of us on opposite sides of the marble room, and took off my towel completely. You’re probably thinking, that’s a lot of warm marble slabs. It was.
I was also not aware that this was going to be a naked party.
The Turkish woman began rubbing me down with an exfoliating cloth. She kept insisting that I relax, but it’s rather difficult to relax when a stranger is rubbing your naked body down and hasn’t at least bought you dinner first. It was right after she had finished my chest, and still had one hand on my breast that she looked up, introduced herself and asked what my name was.
“Pauline, nice to meet you!”
But that’s life, sometimes you just don’t know someone’s name until after they have groped you.
You could see the dead skin coming right off my body, which was pretty cool, but made it look like I haven’t showered in seven months. Next came the fun part. The Turkish woman took a cloth filled with soap and water, and proceeded to cover me completely with bubbles. It was like being in a bubble bath but without the water. She then soaped me down, washing and massaging all of my limbs, washed my hair and rinsed me off.
She dried me off, wrapped me in a towel and lead me to an expansive lounge area where Kristi and I relaxed like the queens we were meant to be. We spent the rest of the day in a state of absolute elation and peace.
My Turkish Hammam experience was quite the culture shock, and simultaneously incredibly relaxing. Also, my new aspiration in life is to never have to bathe myself again, because my skin has never been this baby soft.
Interior of the Hammam for reference. See? I told you it’s a lot of marble.
After a full day of touring Istanbul, KrIstanbul and I definitely deserved a bath.