Of all the times we’ve been to Turkey, I had never been to a hammam (a Turkish bath). I decided that our spring break trip to Antalya was the time to finally have this experience.
The host led me through a series of rock (marble?) chambers to one in the back. He demonstrated that I was to relax on this heated slab of stone and soon someone would be with me.
I’ve rarely had such an experience for the senses. My cool skin on the smooth, heated stone. No sound except that of a burbling fountain somewhere in the chamber beside me. The rock walls were like a tomb, and my chamber was domed with a sky light (the only light source). It was tomb-like... an echo chamber. The echoes made the experience even more intense. I could have relaxed there in peace for hours, on nothing but a heated slab of stone.
The bath was just as much of an experience. The woman bathing me began to hum while running water in this echo chamber. She dipped warm water and poured it over me, one limb at a time. I was scrubbed pink like a newborn with a loofah and then further scrubbed with a scented salt. There was a massage involved, but not a thorough one. Then I was rinsed in the same way I started off. Next came the bubbles. Some net was stuffed with suds, flapped out to get the bubbles extra big, and then forced out onto my quarters, like a pillow of bubbles being pushed from a case. The sensation was strange but relaxing, as the slippery, fluffy foam sat lightly atop my body. The foam acted as the bath soap, and I felt entirely rejuvenated.
Afterwards I was rinsed, my hair was washed with shampoo, head massaged, and then the woman proceeded to towel me dry like an infant.
The simple act of letting go of all control and letting someone else do everything for you, along with all of the physical and mental stimuli and counteracting sensations…. made the bath experience almost sensual. A first time that will not be a last.