Birthday suits are all the rage right now in Turkey, and have been for thousands of years….in a Turkish Bath House of course! Stripping down and baring it all is just another day at a bath house, and let’s just say towels to hide behind are not encouraged. You either get over yourself or leave. I had no idea what to expect when I went for a bath and massage, but let’s just say it was by far the most unique experience I have ever had…
I have heard about the famous Turkish bath houses before I left for Istanbul, but was always on the fence about whether to try one or not. The first day I got here, I shed my inhibitions and took the plunge. The Partner and Crime and I headed over to a bath house and got the full works. I will be honest when I say that I was a little nervous when I got there. Did they speak English? How would I know what to do if they didn’t? My Turkish consists of one word so I could have been walking straight into a disaster!
Selecting a Bath House
The Partner and Crime and I spent a lot of time reading TripAdvisor trying to figure out which bath house to go to. We finally decided on Cemberlitas Bath House in the Sultanahmet neighborhood. This particular bath house is very traditional and keeps the men and women separate. Originally, we were going to a more modern bath house that allowed women and men to be together, but we wanted the real deal, the way that they have done it for thousands of years. As we entered and went our separate ways, I had no idea what to expect. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little nervous.
Stripping Down and Baring it All
With very broken English and a lot of hand signals, I was instructed to strip down and put my things in a locker. I was handed black underwear to put on. I was so glad I brought my own swimsuit bottoms, the undies were huge and would have not stayed on during the entire process. Little did I realize, that would be the least of my concerns. I was handed a Turkish towel and led to the steam room (more like a warm sauna, if you are from the States). I was there for about thirty seconds before a woman removed my towel (due to the language barrier) from my body and told me to lay down on the hot stone.
Normally I need a cocktail or two before my clothes come off, but it appeared that a glass of wine was not an option. Slowly but surely I began to relax in the hot room, my aching muscles from traveling loosening up as my eyes closed.
After about 10 minutes a wonderful Turkish woman came in to start the exfoliation. I was a little shocked when she introduced herself in only her bra and underwear, but it made sense since she worked with soap and water all day. While she worked, she asked me a few questions about where I was from, but mainly allowed me to enjoy the experience. She knew all of the right pressure points to hit for my tired body to reach total relaxation. When we got to my arms, she showed me all of the dead skin she exfoliated off. I couldn’t believe it! I thought my loofah in the shower was doing the trick, but apparently not!
Bubbles and Water
After the exfoliation, I was rinsed off with warm water and all of the dead skin was cleaned off of me with the most wonderful soap. There were so many bubbles, I have no idea how she did it. I was in heaven.
All of my glorious bubbles were rinsed off with warm water and my hair was washed. The scalp massage hit the spot, and I am pretty sure my body just melted right then and there.
After a final rinse, I was off to my massage for even more relaxation. My masseuse knew where all of my tight muscles were and worked her magic. The oil that was used smelled amazing, like someone was making fresh squeezed orange juice right in the room.
My experience came to an end after my massage and I was 100% relaxed. I made my way back to my locker and changed back into my clothes. I met back up with the Partner in Crime and we walked back to our hotel in total bliss. We were so relaxed and in the moment that we barely spoke the entire way back.