My First Bath (Turkish)

An experience that is difficult to fully describe. We chose the Cagaloglu Hamami or Turkish bath. It is medieval design. The Cagaloglu Hamami is probably the world’s most famous Turkish Bath. It’s featured in the 1000 places to go before you die book, and is reputed to have been visited by King Edward VII, Florence Nightingale, Tony Curtis and Cameron Diaz and now my wife Luci. You walk in and are greeted by two “bath guys” they give you the run down on the different bath options.  We chose the bath and massage. We put down our green backs, picked out our soap and soapmit.  Luci was whisked away to the woman’s side. From what she described, I should of followed her.

man with flagOk, they give you the key to your “compartment” and in you go.   Directions from the aging gentleman were simple. “take off clothes, put on towel”.  No welcome to the bath, no: you may be concerned about modesty etc… now the mens waiting room is right in front of the main entry way.  So I walk out and some French girls are pointing and laughing at me. I think they thought something was funny with my towel…I don’t know.

You are escorted into the back,  which opens into a huge domed room  At center is a huge marble slab.  It is about a 1000 degrees.  10 bathers total.  One of the employees (blue towel) says: go to hot room.  I am thinking, this is fairly hot.  I head to back. Hot room was an understatement.  I sit down careful to keep knees together.  How do you girls do it?  I cook for 10 minute,  then my “man” comes. “I am Ali” I said, yes you are. “come”. Ali is light on words and heavy on pounds. Ali looks to be expecting twins, and has the hair from planet apes. He directs me to lay flat on the center stone. I do. Enter Turkish massage.  A lot of chopping, and pulling muscle from bone, which is not as pleasant as it sounds. Ali is ingueiness in using elbows, and knees to knead soft tissue. At one point, knee is used to “soften buttocks area”. This was the most unpleasant portion of the adventure as marble was not very forgiving of my reverse side (enough said).

Once my entire body has been stretched, pulled and properly kneaded. Ali explained, “now wash”. I was directed to one of the side marble benches. being completely washed by another man is not something that i do on a regular basis. Ali puts on a sandpaper glove and begins to methodically remove 1 inch of my skin. He keeps showing me the glove. It is completely covered in skin removed. I nodded like this was great. Then he took his finger nails and removed the top layer of my scalp for 10 mins.

Enter more soap, more scrubbing.  At last I look like a drowned cat.  Ali says: “done”. I can’t move. I finally find my way back to my compartment and change.  I take a pic with Ali. I tried to wish him luck with the twins…it didn’t translate well.

It was a once in a lifetime experience (I hope!)

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