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A Tale of Two Hamams

sunny 37 °C

So today I want to tell you about two experiences, both traditional but both very different. We were on our way to the Arasta Bazaar after our morning visit to Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Our Blue Mosque visit turned into a private tour with a guy Marty picked up on the street. There we are, minding our own business, and we have this guy wanting to take us to second entrance to the Blue Mosque. We thought he would show us the entrance and be on his way. No, he took us into the Mosque chatting the whole time, telling us about the tiles, etc. While we were going to be happy with seewithy he mosque ourselves, at our own pace, this was not to be. We couldn't shake him! At the end, of course, we ended up having to visit his carpet shop. After advising him that we weren't interested in his carpets we finally headed to the Bazaar.

Now this is a baby bazaar compared to the Grand Bazaar but that is a good thing. Yes, everyone still wants to sell you something but not at the pace and energy of the Grand Bazaar. We were in search of a store called Jennifer's Hamam. Now Jennifer is an Edmonton gal who has relocated to Turkey and is hoping to bring back the art of organic cotton weaving which, like many other places, is being lost as elders die. Her weavers produce phenomenally wonderful products. We spent a couple of hours in the warehouse and had a chance to talk with Jennifer about her passion for this. The purchases made will likely last a lifetime and be a wonderful reminder of our trip to Turkey.

The second story is about Cembirlitas Hamam, one of the oldest Turkish baths in Istanbul. Built in 1534 it boggles the mind to think about the sultans, princes, and members of the sultan's harem who have visited there in the past. Women and men are separate for this experience. Not much English is spoken; lie down, roll over and sit up is in their repertoire!

You are ushered into the changing room, given a traditional Turikish towel (a pestamel) and asked to lie on the marble slab. While relaxing and sweating you have a chance to marvel at the amazing domed structure. After about 20 minutes your attendant startyow itch a warm bucket of water thrown at you. Some of mine went right up my nose. She certainly had my attention at that point. Then on to the loofah scrub. At the end of the scrub there is not a dead skin cell left on your body. Then they slather you with a bubble and oil mixture. She has a gauze bag that she fills with air and bubbles, fluffs it up and distributes the bubbles all over. A vigourus massage, a trip to rinse off and have your hair washed and she is done with you. You are welcome to lay and relax as long as you like.

Marty's experience was similar but without all the bubbles and relaxing massage. He said it was the 'bull ride' of relaxation massage!
There is your tale of two Hamams, both which will have lasting memories of our trip!!!!

Posted by jonaway 10:21 Archived in Turkey

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