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Turkish bath house. The building has stood for 600 years and apparently, the family which owns this bath house has operated it since the 18th century. Wow!

Turkish bath house. The building has stood for 600 years and apparently, the family which owns this bath house has operated it since the 18th century. Wow!

When you travel, you have to be a Plan B person. Stay flexible is my motto. The original round the world (RTW) plan was to hit the “hot and humid” countries first and then around late March, segue into the more frigid countries, which hopefully would be basking in early Spring like weather. My wardrobe choices such as t shirts, tank tops, and a couple of long sleeve shirts would be perfect for the weather I anticipated. In fact, I had been hauling around a fleece pullover, which I had worn on a cold freezing day in Denver nearly 3 months ago – to 4 countries before I dumped it in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Bye bye . . .

The guy with the towel on his shoulders was my masseuse. Quite frankly, when I first saw him, I seriously thought about running. Gulp. This guy was big. Like World Wrestling Federation big. I am sort of scrawny; and, coupled with my relatively recent shoulder surgery, I seriously wondered if this guy would cause major damage to my body. Not too worry . . . He knew exactly what he was doing.

The guy with the towel on his shoulders was my masseur. Quite frankly, when I first saw him, I seriously thought about running. Gulp. This guy was big. Like World Wrestling Federation big. I am sort of scrawny; and, coupled with my relatively recent shoulder surgery, I seriously wondered if this guy would cause major damage to my body. Not too worry . . . He knew exactly what he was doing.

Boy, oh boy, did I mis-calculate. I’m not certain what the temperature was today, but I don’t think it got above 10-15 Celsius max. Oh, did I mention that it also rained? I had planned on going to the Hagia Sophia today, but the line was really long and I decided after 10 minutes of waiting in the rain and cold, that I would try again another day. I did get some excellent shots of the exterior though.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia and angry skies which finally released rain.

While walking back toward the Grand Bazaar and planning on buying a nice hoodie sweat shirt or fleece pullover, I saw this sign that said Turkish Bath. This was on my bucket list of things to do in Turkey and I said to myself, “Why not today?” The weather sucks and what a great way to treat myself. I went in and immediately was impressed with the family like atmosphere of the business. Not seedy at all. The “works” would cost 60 Lira, which is about $30 U.S. currency. This included a soap massage and bath, oil massage, hot sauna, and “Roman” swimming pool. I was down with that.

Lockable change room.

Lockable change room.

So what is a Turkish bath? First off, it’s called a Hamam and according to Wikipedia, “. . . it is a variant of a steam bath, sauna, or Russian bath, distinguished by a focus on water, as distinct from ambient steam.” Β The Turkish bath became popular in Western Europe in the Victorian era. The process to taking a Turkish bath is similar to a sauna, except that it is closer to to ancient Roman and Greek bathing practices.

The marble "table" in front is where the massage takes place. The marble floor in the background is very, very hot. I was told to lie down on it and it took me a while to lie prone on it. I felt like a lobster thrown in boiling water or perhaps, a lamb chop placed on a frying pan.  Ha.

The marble “table” in front is where the massage takes place. The marble floor in the background is very, very hot. I was told to lie down on it and it took me a while to lie prone on it. I felt like a lobster thrown in boiling water or perhaps a better analogy, would be a lamb chop placed on a frying pan. Ha.

When you take a Turkish bath, you first enter a “warm room,” i.e., a dry heat sauna (similar to a Swedish sauna with the hot rocks). I am very familiar with hot saunas and love to stay in them for a long time. This one was a bit overpowering with Eucalyptus scent, but I easily got use to it. The masseur assumed that I would only be in there for 10 minutes and I think he was impressed when I stayed in there for over 30 minutes. I met Fareed, a man from Saudi Arabia, who along with his family, was spending his last day in Turkey. Him and I chatted while we were par-boiled for 30 minutes.

It's my understanding that this is a typical ceiling that you will find in a Turkish bath house.

It’s my understanding that this is a typical ceiling that you will find in a Turkish bath house.

Fareed, his wife and daughter after we all had been given the full Turkish bath treatment. The daughter was a bit upset because she was bathed by someone other than her mom. Women are given a Turkish bath in a separate area of the building and a woman masseuse is assigned to them. Afterwards, we were all served sweet tea. It was delicious.

Fareed, his wife and daughter after we all had been given the full Turkish bath treatment. The daughter was a bit upset because she was bathed by someone other than her mom. Women are given a Turkish bath in a separate area of the building and a woman masseuse is assigned to them. Afterwards, we were all served hot sweet tea. It was delicious.

After the warm room, we went into the main massage room where we laid down on this hot floor. I was already perspiring freely and this just accelerated the sweating. However, first I had to get used to the hot floor. It was extremely hot and it took me awhile to lie prone on the ground. Fareed was having the same difficulty, so I didn’t feel too much like a neophyte.

My masseur. I never did get his name, but he was quite friendly. As I said earlier, this dude is big, with large guns and hands. I didn't know what to expect from him, but he was totally professional. All in all, a great experience and I will go back before I leave Turkey.

My masseur. I never did get his name, but he was quite friendly. As I said earlier, this dude is big, with large guns and hands. I didn’t know what to expect from him, but he was totally professional. All in all, a great experience and I will go back before I leave Turkey.

After the “hot floor” treatment, the actual soap bath and massage occurred. This lasted about 15 minutes. Damn, did it feel good. After the hot rinse, where large buckets of water are thrown on you, I received an oil massage. This lasted about 20 minutes. This felt wonderful, especially for my back and legs. Another hot rinse and once again, I sat on the hot floor for 20 minutes, before entering the cold “Roman” bath.

Basins where the masseur gets his water and prepares his soapy massage sponges.

Basins where the masseur gets his water and prepares his soapy massage sponges.

Cold water pool that you enter by ladder.

Cold water pool that you enter by ladder.

For men only.

For men only.

Another section of the ceiling, which I found fascinating. This was the catalyst for me asking how old the building was. I was floored when they said 600 years old.

Another section of the ceiling, which I found fascinating. This was the catalyst for me asking how old the building was. I was floored when they said 600 years old.

I really enjoyed my experience at the Turkish bath house and will probably return before I leave Istanbul. A couple of you have written me in emails (I wont say who) asking questions about the restrooms here and a couple of other countries I have visited. All of my hotels in all the countries I have traveled to, have had traditional western toilets and showers. However, most public restrooms have a flat porcelain toilet, where you have to . . . umm, kneel down to do . . . umm, number 2. As I have indicated previously, you should try to make damn sure that you don’t have to do anything involving stooping or using toilet paper when entering a public restroom. At my age, I have a difficult time, getting into the “catcher’s position” and I sure as hell am not going to demonstrate my ability to do so in a public restroom in a foreign country.

This is the "Royal Royce" of flat porcelain toilets. I finally remembered to take a photo of one and fortunately, this one was fairly clean.

This is the “Royal Royce” of flat porcelain toilets. I finally remembered to take a photo of one and fortunately, this one was fairly clean.

Basically, the procedure is to do your "thing," then fill that pink bucket with water and . . . umm, use it to "flush" your stuff down that drain. By the by, the toilet paper dispenser? It was empty. You will usually find this to be the case. This is the main reason you want to carry toilet paper. Better yet, do your thing in the hotel room and you don't have to even worry about these situations.  :-)

Basically, the procedure is to do your “thing,” then fill that pink bucket with water and . . . umm, use it to “flush” your stuff down that drain. By the by, the toilet paper dispenser? It was empty. You will usually find this to be the case. This is the main reason you want to carry toilet paper. Better yet, do your thing in the hotel room and you don’t have to even worry about these situations. πŸ™‚

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