I’ve recently returned from Istanbul, which was incredible. The city is the perfect blend between east and west, and there’s enough to see and do here that you could spend months touring around and feel like you’ve only just scratched the surface.
There are some incredible sights here that you just have to see (more on that later), but one thing I strongly recommend experiencing is a Turkish bath house in Istanbul.
The bath house I went to was called Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Bath.
What It’s All About
Turkish bath houses are designed to de-stress you while inflicting a minor amount of pain and leaving you feeling cleaner than you’ve ever felt. First you’ll start off by undressing into just your bottoms, wrapping yourself in a towel. If you go to a bathhouse without bottoms, they will likely provide little paper ones for you.
Then you’ll head into the bath rooms, where someone will douse you head to toe in water, while you sit on a marble slab.
After you’re properly rinsed, she will start scrubbing your entire body– your face, your ears, your neck, your legs, your stomach–and sheets of dead skin will come falling off of you in a disgusting, glorious procession.
From there, your bath house person will lead you to a marble slab where she will have you lay as she performs a magic trick: She’ll take what looks like a cheesecloth pillowcase, swing it back and forth to inflate it with air, and wring it out; except when she wrings it out, the air magically turns into soft, fluffy bubbles.
I’ve never seen anything like it.
She’ll keep doing this trick until your whole body is covered in bubbles (which are also special, btw, as they don’t fall apart like regular bubbles) and then she’ll start lathering your body– your whole body– with her hands. You’ll learn to be comfortable really quickly with this part, as bathhouses are no places for modesty. As she’s sudsing you up, she’ll get into some nooks and crannies you didn’t expect, going over your breasts, your armpits, your nipples (can nipples even get dirty??)– my lady also yanked my bottoms into a crazy tight wedgie and went to town on my cheeks–but it’s all a part of the process.
After you’re sudsed up, she’ll give you a soap massage that feels awesome, albeit slightly painful, but it’s all so cool and different that you’re into it.
Then she’ll walk you into a wash room, where she’ll rinse you off, wash and condition your hair, and dribble some cold water on your head for added goosebumps.
At the end of it all, you’ll feel cleaner and softer than you have in years.
It’s been five days since my bath house experience, and I still feel as soft as a baby’s bottom.
I highly recommend checking out a bathhouse. My 1/2 hour experience cost roughly $40, but you can find less expensive places if you ask around. Or not!
PS- Images are from Flickr creative commons. I was too much of a noodle to do anything.
Have you been to a Turkish Bath House? What was the experience like for you?