Part of our preparation for our travel to Turkey was a class on the Turkish culture, and specifically the acceptable clothing within that culture – particularly for women. Turkey is fairly conservative – no bare shoulders, no knees showing, certainly no shirts dipping below the collar bone so, it was with a bit of trepidation that 3 girls and I stepped into the lobby, filled with guests – men and women – with nothing on but largish dish towels that had been dried on a clothes line and felt like cardboard. We were in a Turkish Bath, and apparently all the conservative clothing requirements don’t apply.
Being completely ignorant of what a Turkish Bath was, I had been expecting segregated baths for men and women, a secluded changing room, a hot tub, maybe a sauna, and I had heard that I could get a massage – which would include “scrubbing” with something like a loofa. Upon arriving we discovered that, unfortunately, there were no women available to do the massages, but that the men would be happy to massage we women. We each declined out of decorum.
After making this decision, the girls from our little group and I were issued our afore-mentioned dish-towels and were shown the changing room. To our surprise, the changing room was immediately next to the reception desk, had small window/openings out to the lobby about neck high (and I’m short), a fabric curtain that pulled across the doorway, but that only came down as far as my knees. Humm. We all were feeling brave, however, and proceeded to strip down and put on our Turkish Bath appropriate attire.
As already mentioned, the next test of our nerve was to leave the seclusion of the changing room and march across the lobby of the TB (Turkish Bath) to where the door was to the actual “bath” area. We all arrived safely on the other side of the lobby, and were shown the door through which we needed to enter to the bath. I gently pushed it aside, and to my surprise saw the boys from our group. I quickly closed the door thinking I had gone the wrong way, however the large dish-towel-clad Turkish gentleman ushering us around assured me that I had found the right door, so I pushed it a tiny bit open, warned the boys we were coming in, and launched forth.
The room we entered was all made of marble – the least expensive building material in Turkey. It was a marble oven. Rather than having a “bath,” it was a room with small marble basins lining each wall filled with hot water, and a huge marble “table” in the center – and all of it was heated. I forgot to mention that part of our TB attire that we were issued were little rubber slippers. We found out on entering the bath that they were to protect our feet from the considerable heat in the floor. Splayed out on the large table in the center of the room were the boys, each laying at a different angle with their heads towards the center like a many-handed clock.
In each basin around the room, there was a small bowl designed to pour water on one’s head. So, basically, the point of the TB was to be in a hot room (although not as hot as a sauna), lay on a REALLY hot marble table, pour more hot water over your head at different intervals, and talk with your friends. As I mentioned, none of the girls had signed up for a massage, but we did get to see several of the boys get massages – which were very entertaining. One of them will have to explain it, but I did hear repeatedly that TJ felt like “a changed man” after his.
Unfortunately, none of us had thought of taking a camera – not that it would have survived the humidity of the bath, so we have no pictures to share. Just know we each emerged after about 45 minutes looking like lobsters – all for just $7.50 🙂
There’s nothing like experiencing one of the more exotic things in the world.
Signing off from Turkey – Natalie
Not a bath, but still exotic! The group visits Kupatas Beach: