Friday, 2 November 2012

Scrubbed and soaped the Turkish way!

On our pre-pampering trek
Like most girls, I LOVE being pampered. Unfortunately, in the UK such things are usually prohibitively expensive. In Turkey, however, for a mere £20 (or less at less touristy or fancy hammams) you can be scrubbed, massaged and soaped down in a stunning historical building and wander around the saunas, steam rooms and pools to your heart's content. A thoroughly lovely way to spend an afternoon or evening.

I persuaded Chris and our friend Charlie, who had come to join us for a 2 week jaunt in Turkey, to come with me to try it out. As is the case with all of the Turks we met, the staff at the hammam made us feel wonderfully welcome as soon as we arrived making jolly jokes about how hard they were going to scrub at our peely-wally bodies and how lovely we would feel when we came back out. This being Turkey there was no mixing allowed and Chris was ushered away from us with a particularly friendly fellow who promised he was going to give him a good scrubbing down (!). Charlie and I were sent downstairs to the women's section. We got changed into our bikinis, picked up some delightful pink rubber sandals (think crocs!) and a cotton hammam towel and tentatively made our way into the corridor looking for what we were meant to do next! Out of nowhere appeared a fierce lady who sat us down and proceeded to plaster a clay like substance onto our faces. Next we were plonked in the sauna and told to stay there for a bit. It was all rather brusque and had Charlie and I giggling like a pair of school girls, unsure where to put ourselves. When we couldn't stand the heat any more we decided to move to the next stage and risk being told off by the schoolmarm-like hammam woman.The next room was akin to a public pool changing room with showers and a swimming pool; all a bit odd. We washed the clay off our faces and splashed about in the pool for a bit until we were starting to get a bit bored.

Finally, we decided that it was probably about time to head into the main room, a giant marble atrium with a marble platform and sinks all around the sides. We were just have a nosey around when in burst two rather rotund ladies grinning and chattering away at us in Turkish sporting their own tasteful pairs of  rubber sandals and dressed in the biggest pairs of granny knickers I've ever seen and giant bras (sporting some equally giant bazookas). They didn't speak much English but indicated we should lay down on our towels on the marble slab and relax. Nattering away, they proceeded to douse us with warm water and brutally scrub our bodies with an abrasive mitten. All the months of traveller dirt and tan came peeling off with each sweeping scrub and she joked 'you very skinny' i.e. all your skin is coming off!! Charlie and I giggled, winced and squirmed away on the marble...not the most elegant of experiences, nor the most relaxing, but exceedingly entertaining! Once they had scrubbed our skin raw they then proceeded to the soaping stage. Giant billowy sacks of silk were soaked with soap suds and squished all over our bodies, front and back. Once they had finished and had rinsed us off our skin was left feeling softer than ever before. It felt like I had been moisturising my entire life. We were then left to explore the steam rooms and use the pool for as long as we liked.

Charlie and I thoroughly enjoyed our hammam experience and although we didn't get a thorough debrief from Chris he seemed to have a good time too. I can only assume it was a similar set up to ours. If you're ever in Turkey don't miss out on this quintessential experience. It really was as highlight and is certainly great fun if there's a group of you who you can have a giggle with.

Unfortunately we couldn't really take our cameras into the hammam as there was so much water and soap about but other photos from our Turkish trip can be found here.

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