Inspiring you to lead a more fulfilled life through exploration, creativity, and expression, in art, travel, and food!
I like to try new things when I'm traveling. These experiences, or flavors of the culture, inspire me. They push me, make me grow. They stimulate new expressions in my art, my cooking, and yes, even in my relationships.(sometimes they make me gag, like the fried scorpion I tried in China...)
If you've been to Turkey, did you go to a hamam? Have you done a Korean Bath house? I think they are similar experiences, except for the architecture. I went to the springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas where they do an old style bath experience. I love bathing rituals; each one is unique. Would you say that the US has a bathing ritual? I don't, but let me know if I'm overlooking something.
My "Hamam" experience...I chose a "locals" experience vs. a spa experience. The Tahiri Sifa Hamami was about 4 blocks from my hotel in the Sultanahmet district. It's very non descript as you enter, but it's been there since 1777, the sign assures me. The guy in the picture? He comes to the desk clad only in a Turkish towel around his mid section. Yes, it gave me a little start, because I can never get those things to stay put.
In the main room of the bath (above, right) You lie naked, draped in a Turkish pestemal (a thin traditional Turkish towel) on the marble slab, the room is hot and steamy; they heat the marble with hot water underneath. There was a slight smell of charred wood in the air--heated with wood fire? Or my imagination spurred on by the fact this hamam was almost destroyed in the 50s by fire?
Off to the sides are areas with marble basins with flowing hot and cold water, to rinse off and cool down. You turn on the water and scoop it out with plastic bowls. I wasn't so sure about those basins at first, they are just the right size and height for a toilet or a bidet...... :-) There was a domed ceiling with circular glass to let light in above the slab table. It's a centuries old traditional design. I added a picture of an ancient non-functioning Hamam in Kusadasi, Turkey.
In the bathing room I laid on the pestemal on the table as my masseuse scrubbed me down with a loofah, then she used a large thin cotton bag and scrubbed it up with soap, swooped it through the air to fill the bag with air and forced the air out through the bag forming huge piles of foamy bubbles. Then she gently wiped it over my body... It was a heavenly sensation, and quite ticklish. She casually swatted my behind or thigh every time she wanted me to turn over. Next she shampooed and conditioned my hair with a head massage while I sat on the floor on the pestemal. I felt like a child during this whole process; it was so nurturing.
After the bath, I robe up and sit lounge area and relax with the ubiquitous Turkish Apple Tea before going to massage. I opted to get the face mask too. I don't know what it was, but my skin was brighter and healthier looking immediately. Apparently it's a recipe from the women because they got paid that fee separately.
Bath, foam, shampoo, oil massage, face mask, and tea; $40usd. Nicha (sp?) my masseuse,--she saw me naked, scrubbed my body, and swatted my tush, so I think now she must be designated as my Turkish mother; I will call her my "Ha-mama".
Would you get naked in Istanbul?
Who am I?