Day 24 of 32 – Jason, have you ever been to a… to a Turkish bath?

1 Dec

Why yes. Yes I have. Today is my last day in Istanbul before I head over to Luxembourg / Paris and I wanted to be really, really clean for tomorrow’s flight. So this afternoon I headed over to the Beşiktaş Hamami – you know the one, it’s down by the Beşiktaş Vapur İskelesi.

First a little background on the Turkish Baths. There are three types:
1) Private
2) A second type I can’t remember right now
3) Public

I chose to go to the public one because a) they’re the cheapest and b) if they’re run by the city it means that the guy giving the scrub down is a municipal government employee. In my country this would be considered a very unusual job for a city worker and I wanted to find out what they’re like.

I didn’t know what to expect so I messaged Hanna beforehand – she told me they have a room where one can lock up any valuables. And there would be nudity. I’m pretty ok with that. My many trips to Finland have left me numb to the idea of being stuck in a sweaty box with a bunch of guys, naked save for the towel that is meant to go between the bench and your bum.

Things started off really, really badly. How badly? Well they have separate entrances for men and women and when I got there I accidentally walked into the ladies’ bath. This would not have been a big deal in Finland (or maybe it would have) and I have no idea if it’s a bootable offence here in Turkey because when I opened the door and saw a half-dozen naked women sitting around, I immediately yelled “I am a stupid foreigner!” and ran away before they could call the cops.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 22.52.02

Can any of you tell which is for the boys and which one is for the girls? I couldn’t. 

I then made my way over to the men’s side where I was greeted by a guy who spoke no english. He gave me a pair of slippers and took my shoes away. I was then shown to a room where I was told to strip down to my towel and lock up my clothes and other things. I was introduced to my… bath guy (I’m sure there’s a technical term in Turkish) and he told me to wait in the sauna for 25 minutes and then we would begin the scrub.

So after my time in the sauna (it was not very hot compared to the Finnish ones) dude told me to lie down for ten minutes on the giant marble platform in the centre of the bath. I lasted about three. It was so hot I’m sure I would have gotten first degree burns had I stayed any longer. He came back and took me to the cleaning station where he performed an exfoliation procedure. If you thought I was white before, now I’m damn near transparent.

After the de-skinening he gave me a good washing and then it was back to the burn platform for the massage. The massage was interesting cause it included a lot of joint cracking. Spine. Neck. Ankles. Fingers. The table was so hot that dude had to keep pouring cold water over me. At one point I used my slippers and small bucket to act as a buffer between me and the surface. It was impossible to relax for any part of this massage.

On the plus side he did stay away from my swimsuit area during all this. Which is understandable – that’s for me to manage. Also, they give you a towel that you’re supposed keep wrapped around your waist.

After it was all done I was pretty bagged. You know when you get a shot at the doctor’s and they make you stay in the waiting room to see if there’s going to be some sort of reaction. Well this is exactly how I felt as I exited the bath. I sat around in the lobby for about twenty minutes while my brain and everything settled down.

Total cost was about $25 CDN and one hour of time. I’d go again: Turkish Bath = recommended.

My guy

My guy

Me, the cleanest I’ve ever been.

Me, the cleanest I’ve ever been.


2 Responses to “Day 24 of 32 – Jason, have you ever been to a… to a Turkish bath?”

  1. jimmy jamison el Vez December 1, 2014 at 22:52 #

    That is …. the best picture of you ….without socks and sandals.

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