A visit to the hamam (Turkish bath)

Scrubbed like a baby and by a large Turk wearing a black bra and panties in a centuries old marble bath house! Skın comes out soft and new.

Tourıng hıstorıcal provıncıal houses of the Ottoman empıre and learnıng about the Sufı sect of Islam who lived in this area. Toured tıle factory at Iznık to see how they are reviving the Ottoman techniques of bright underglaze with a very shiny, heavy clear glaze on top. I’d wanted to buy a few here but they are ultra expensive for somethıng that could break. Wıll look ın Istanbul.

The Haman experience lasts only about 30 minutes, but it is a real treat. For about 27 dollars US (with tip) you are given a small dressing room with a cot and door to lock where you leave your stuff. This is much cheaper than in Istanbul where a bath is about 65 dollars. Upon entering, it is hot and steaming and the women who work there are all wearing traditional long skirts and head scarves. I was led to a beautiful room with a high domed central room built in 1645. Small satellite rooms radiate off with marble benches and large sinks where you pour warm water over yourself with a plastic bowl. The masseuse enters, now in a black bra and panties, and she led me to a soaping table where she proceeded to rub me briskly with a pumice pad. No lubrication is used since this step is designed to remove ALL of your dead skin. She does not speak English and barks “TURN” every 5 minutes. The next process is a gentle sudsing followed by a brisk full body massage. She finally throws cooler water all over me to rinse me off and I am led to the marble pool again to wash my hair. When you come out your skin is ultra soft, even without any lotion. I went early with a gal from wyoming before our group came in so we literally had the entire place to ourselves. I could have hung out there all day but wanted to get out before the rest of our rather chatty group got there.

I spent the rest of the day wandering around the small shops of Safranbolu and found the most interesting part to be the metal shops. There is a ravine in town over which the metal craftsmen built their workshops to allow the tailings to flow down into the water and out of the town–ick. I bought a small bronze whirling dervish, kind of commercial but cool because it actually spins on its base and is virtually unbreakable, albeit heavy.

We spent the morning touring some traditional Ottoman homes in the small village of Yuruk, and then in Safranbolu, a small town. One was set up with manikins and quite interesting to see how the rooms were used. Decorations all reference Sufi concepts.


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