Visit to a Turkish Bath
This morning was the official ending of the tour. We ate our breakfast near the pool, bittersweet with goodbyes, trading email addresses and promises to share pictures.
With the whole day before us, our first stop was to the Bodrum Hamam, only a short walk away from our hotel.
In the old Ottoman days, the hamam, or Turkish bath, played a very important role in society.
It was a place where everyone, no matter their social or financial standing, both men and women met to mingle and discuss life.
At the Bodrum Hamam, the Turkish bath experience is segregated. Men and women who arrive together pay at the desk, then go separate ways.
What to Expect at the Hamam
First, you enter the changing area where you are given a key and a linen towel (called a pestemal) and shown to a small private room (more like a closet with a window.)
Here you change out of your clothes and into your bathing suit if you’re very modest, or simply wrap your naked self up in the pestemal. If you need them, you are given slippers. I had my flip-flops.
A woman who did not speak any English led me down into the hamam itself. I was the only person there, so I had the whole place to myself.
The walls and floor were made entirely of marble. Around the perimeter of the large room was a series of small marble basins with cold and hot spigots.
The woman indicated that I was to sit next to the tub and dip a plastic bowl into the water, then pour it over my head and body. Then I was to go into the steam room to sweat several minutes. Afterwards, she would return for the scrub down.
She left me alone and I embarked on my Turkish bath experience. First, I adjusted the temperature of the water (I like it hot). Then I dipped the bowl into the marble basin and poured the warm water over my head until I felt sufficiently hydrated.
Carefully walking across the slippery, wet marble floor, I teetered into the steam room and lay down on the marble ledge on top of my pestemal. I do not care much for saunas, so after a few minutes, I was done with the steam and returned to the main room.
The woman had not yet returned, so I poured water over myself a few more times, then walked around looking at everything, wishing I had my camera.
In the middle of the room there was a large, round marble platform raised about three feet. It was big enough to accommodate at least ten bodies if they were lined up side by side.
The Turkish Bath Experience
The woman returned and using hand signals, had me lie down on the slab. Since this center stone is positioned above the furnaces which heat the hamam, it was lusciously warm.
Dipping a rough, raw silk mitten, called a kese, into a tub of soapy scented water, she started scrubbing every inch of my body to exfoliate the dead skin. Next she lathered me up with rich olive oil soap, completely enveloping me in piles of soft, frothy bubbles that must have magical properties.
After she was done and rinsed me off with sparkling clean water, I was surprised I had any skin left, but what I had was baby soft.
Wrapped in my pestemal, I followed her back upstairs where she gave me an invigorating, but relaxing massage.
I emerged into the lobby a few minutes before Gino. No one was at the desk, so I snooped around a bit.
This odd bubble on the floor is actually the domed room of the men’s hamam below.
Pretty tiles on the wall.Gino arrived and we compared experiences, both feeling completely renewed in our new skin.
This time we were completely on our own: no one to meet and no deadlines to make.
© Posts and images are sourced from Melinda Brovelli
Melinda lives in Roseville, California with her husband Gino, and their three dogs: Corky, Rocco, and Vinnie. In between work and dog walks, she spends her time studying Italian and planning their next exciting adventure, usually with Flamenco, Greek, or Middle Eastern music playing in the background.
To read all of the Guest Articles provided by Melinda, follow these links:
- Melinda’s Bodrum Holiday
- Melinda’s Tour of Bodrum’s Museum of Underwater Archaeology
- Melinda’s Tour of Bodrum Castle
- Melinda’s Turkish Bath at the Bodrum Hamam
- Melinda’s Last Supper at the Teras Bodrum
- Melinda’s Dolmus Ride to Gumusluk
- Melinda’s Lunch at Gumus Cafe Gumusluk
- Melinda’s Lasting Memories of Bodrum