Hammam Guide

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Firuz Ağa Hamamı: Where Men Meet (and Reveal) or Why I Bathed Twice

by admin on Nov.19, 2009, under Beyoğlu hamams

Firuz Aga Hamamı, Çukurcuma Cadd. 6., Çukurcuma, Beyoğlu

Often in baths talking is limited. While chatting can happen, the space is public even in its most private sense, and the echoes and reverberations, sounds of the washing and splashing, and the heavy walls can mute the space and make having a full on conversation difficult. Unless one shouts, which one would not do. As a result, although my friend and I went together and chatted throughout, there were some things we were not able to talk in depth about, foreign language or not. This was partly in deference to not interrupting our experience but partly in preserving the quietude of the bath. This post follows my friend’s post as a part II impression on a bath from a straight perspective (his) and a gay perspective (mine). Oddly, it is the first time we have shared our experiences with each other about it. From the silent hamam to the “loud” blogosphere…. (continue reading…)

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Corps Exquis: bathing in Bursa

by admin on Sep.29, 2009, under non Istanbul hamams

In the tradition of communal bathing, here are several experiences from Bursa’s fine and venerable Eski Kaplıca.

From the male side, accounts from four bathers, all non-Turks, some experienced bathers, some new bathers, some return customers to the bath itself…

In Bursa we visited a very old bath, it was early in the morning, yet it was nicely populated by the time we entered. This was a huge building, impressive from the outside, and upon entry the building had domed ceiling entirely. This time we only opted for the bath experience – no keseci, etc. we were shown to a changing room, we changed, and with wooden shoes walked into the bath. We entered the first room – it was large, but barren, there were some benches on the side, but not much else. If one was to walk to the adjoined room on the right, there was a place for bathing (seating, basins) but I did not enter, so I could not write much more to that room. Walking forward, there was a door we passed through into the room that had a large pool and further basins. The room was nicely heated.

It was spacious and featured a beautiful octagonal pool in the hot room where one could swim. The pool was fed continuously by a stream of water cascading and creating a wonderful sound.

This was my first hamam experience, and what a better place to do it than Bursa’s finest. My reluctance to bathe naked with other men, was soon turned into an absolute enjoyment, partly because we were covered with thin towels, which minimizes the impact of the ‘first sin’ (you Jewish and Christians out there, know what I mean) and partly because the whole atmosphere made you relaxed. It felt so natural, as if men (and women) were meant to enjoy bathing not in the solidarity of their homes but rather in the company of others. Will I do it again? Most definitely I will! PS: Good company might be the key for a good first experience.

The mood of this bath was very nonchalant; in the past I had been able to keep account of time (for example, how long I spent in the complex, etc) but in this one I have no idea if I spend 30 minutes of 2 hours. The water was a very nice temperature; the room was very light and had a nice presence. There were about 7 men inside, all keeping mostly to themselves, however they seemed to know one another and at times would wash each other or have small conversations.

One man asked me if I could kese his back for him, which I did. He bade me to do it harder than I was. I’m not sure if I was the perfect keseci stand in. Certainly I was excused for not being Turkish. Which, I think, may have trumped any underlying eroticism intended. He also then did me.

We eventually left, passing back into the first, plain, room and changed into dry wraps. It was nice not to be handed the clothes, they were on a rack and there was a partition to change behind – the “nice” part of this was that it was entirely up to the bather when he wanted to leave the baths, there was no one handing you the towels and dry clothes signaling when you should leave, or you didn’t have to walk outside and ask for them.

The changing/lounging room was a vast domed bricked cavernous and beautiful space with beach lounge chairs and a bar and little cabana like dressing rooms.

We stopped by the “bar” – I had an ayran, which was very refreshing after the bath (it may be my favorite drink, after a bath or not) and relaxed a bit on the stools. Many men, most of whom we saw in the bath, were reclining on chairs in this area. Eventually, we made our way back to our shared changing room and relaxed a bit in there before leaving; I could have almost fallen asleep.

I had been to the Bursa Kaplica before by myself, and found the employees to be hostile bordering on the sadistic. But this time around, surrounded by a cohort of 10 friends, I loved it.

We left, returned our key, and were given lemon cologne for our hands (a smell I definitely recognized from having been in Turkey, yet not one that I had been given yet.) I feel that I could have spent many more hours in the bath, maybe all day with intermittent food, drink, cigarettes, etc.

I think this bath, in the Cekirge district, might be my favorite in Turkey currently. It was beautiful and clean, without being kitschy or swarming with Istanbul tourist groups.

And now for something completely different, from the women’s side (written by a Turkish woman)…

The women’s side in the bath was very small. I had a kese and massage. It was very similar to the ones I had in Ulus in style. There were only two spots for women to get kese or massage. Also unlike the hamam in Ulus, this one had a small pool. It was nice, but I really prefer a larger bathing area than a pool. Also there was no gobek tasi. The other thing that I found different was that we had to pay (including for kese and massage) beforehand. Also the entrance area was looked like an entrance for a gym rather than for a hamam. There was no place to hang out. The staff was not very helpful or talkative either. In general it was more professional, touristic and less friendly than my hamam in Ulus. Also it was not very impressive in terms of architecture, no dome or anything like that. But as I said the women’s part was very very small… it seemed like an appendix to the building was converted into women’s bath…

For a little history check out:

http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument%3BISL%3Btr%3BMon01%3B17%3Ben

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Mark Twain Goes to the Bath (and tells us about it)

by admin on Jul.15, 2009, under Intro

I’m so glad that Mark Twain agreed to blog for our post and project!

This is a wonderful excerpt from Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrim’s Progress; being some account of the steamship Quaker City’s pleasure excursion to Europe and the Holy Land; with descriptions of countries, nations, incidents and adventures, as they appeared to the author. It was published in 1870, though you may find his narrative eerily appropriate for today’s Istanbul baths.

“When I think how I have been swindled by books of Oriental travel, I want a tourist for breakfast. For years (continue reading…)

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Barrels, Boys, and Bad Bad Kesecis

by admin on Jun.29, 2009, under Sultanahmet hamams

Sultanahmet Hamamı (or Park Hamamı)

Divanyolu Cad. Doktor Emin Paşa Sok. No. 10

0212 513 7204

www.sultanahmethamami.com

I have always seen this hamam ever since I was in Turkey. It is advertised fairly widely on internet sites and guidebooks, also going by the name of Park Hamamı. It is also ‘considered’ a bath where gay activity takes place. Having all of this in mind, Kirk and I set off after a fabulous dinner to find a totally different bath – the Gedikpaşa bath near the Covered Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı). We were surprised to find it totally gutted and in the process of renovations. So Sultanahmet Hamamı was our second choice. It was rather late – maybe ten at night.

Let’s be clear – this is a tourist bath. Upon entry, we negotiated the price of kese and masaj down to 30 YTL each. We were led into one changing room for the two of us, which I found interesting, but not at all unusual. Men and women, however, shared both the changing rooms and lounge room. We walked into an oblong space where there was a door for men’s and one for women’s. A very unusual arrangement! In the men’s bath, it was rather dim and a bit run down. There was the main hot stone in an L shaped room with the stone in the corner. Between both wings of the L was another room. It was actually fairly crowded with, surprisingly, several Turkish young men. I waited while Kirk got his kese started.

Then the keseci beckoned me – he was a typically huge man with a gigantic belly and, of course, from Tokat. In fact, if these posts haven’t been mentioning this factoid – almost all kesecis come from Tokat. I quickly warned him that my left arm was not to be touched as it was hurt. Although I was clear, he didn’t really care. He treated me like a piece of meat, giving me a cursory soap and massage. Each time I flipped, he didn’t rearrange my peştemal, but it just lay there in disarray. As I was in that limp-bather mode, I couldn’t even fix it properly. So I was just on display in complete disarray, hanging out, several times during the massage. I felt so dirty! Like I had been sexually used and just left there. And the arm. Oh the arm. He paid no attention to the fact that it was hurt and several times let it just flop down, banging, on the hard marble. Let’s just say that it was, without hesitation, the worst kese experience ever. The website mentions that all of their kesecis are “trined and professional” people. I almost should have gotten his name to do anyone reading this the service of NOT asking for him. Nevermind the keseci, the bath gets my worst vote. Ever.

Now, there were some good points to the experience. First, in the corner there was a really cool looking 4 foot tall wooden barrel. I kept staring at it and wondering what it was for, secretly wishing I had one of my very own. Later I learned in the brochure that it is for an “aroma therapy soak” showing some guy in there with a drink in one hand and a silhouette of a moose behind him. Second, were the Turkish young men. They were each getting kese-ed and soaped around the navel stone and I just sat to the side and watched them with fascination. The reason is that as the keseci massaged and stretched their limbs, they were moaning and groaning quite audibly. This stimulated the keseci to massage and stretch them more, and so the experience continued. But what was really interesting was that in almost all of the young men, the keseci was only massaging them. He was not doing anything contortionist or painful. It was a pseudo-sexual moment between these two men, as Kirk pointed out. So I did not see anything overtly gay or cruisy at this bath – but wondered if young men come here to get ‘worked’ over in what appears to be a normal experience but is made into a charged sexual fantasy.

As I exited, my keseci gave me my towel rather unceremoniously – not draping it around my shoulders and placing one on my head as is custom. Of course since I couldn’t use my left arm I couldn’t do this myself. At this point, I asked, irritably, for a little help. He huffed. After changing, Kirk and I had tea in the lounge watching giggly toweled foreign girls next to us. The manager came to talk to us and asked how it was. I held my tongue, as nothing good would have come from my mouth. Kirk said, well the kese was a bit short and could have been far better and was rather gruff. The manager smiled awkwardly and nodded, “evet, olabilir” – yes, it is possible.

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Hamam, Hamam: seeing double at the Beşiktaş Hamamı

by admin on May.05, 2009, under Beşiktaş hamams

Beşiktaş Hamami, 8:00 am – 6:00 pm daily, about 14 for wash, 6 for kese/massage.

Approaching the Beşiktaş Hamamı, it could be a storefront, or maybe a service door to the apartment building directly above it. We are greeted with one-story white plaster walls and a doorframe of that all-too familiar Pimapen plastic.  There is no “Tarihi” next to the welcome sign.  Indeed, who knows what came first, this modest little hamam, or 1950s block apartment building that makes this street look like any other in Istanbul?  The Beşiktaş Hamamı is no classically planned Mimar Sinan wonder.  We’d say we’ve found our first “urban intervention hamam.”

Here also is the first co-written review of a hamam, perhaps in human history.  We (Kirk and Asa) went together.  Below is a call-and-response comparison of our experiences.

(continue reading…)

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Ali Paşa Hamamı, Çorum –a long hamam experience on a cold Sunday

by admin on Apr.19, 2009, under non Istanbul hamams

Ali Paşa Hamamı

Çorum

I went to the Ali Paşa Hamamı, otherwise known as the ‘Yeni Hamam’ by the locals in Çorum in late February 2009. This is a 16th century building renovated recently. It is in the heart of the old and present town center, right by the clock tower and other historical buildings.

I must admit that I did not pay much attention to the exterior of the building –the façade is sort of hidden between shops selling nuts along with hamam utensils like soaps and kese and the like. On the interior, the main room had a special feature, which I had not seen in other hamams before. Around the göbektaşı there were four niches on the sides and four rooms at the corners, each room with a different temperature on the inside. These rooms did not have doors but were semi-private, separated from the main room with brick (presumably) walls with marble coating. Above the threshold of each room was a sign indicating the temperature level in them, but with names of the four seasons; yaz, bahar and so on.

I visited the hamam with one of my best friends, who is from Corum –but lived in Ankara most of her teenage and adult life- and lives there now, and her mother. Her Mother Emel is a regular hamam goer, but my friend prefers more of the spa type new hotel complexes when she feels like a long relaxing bath. Emel, though, is almost a profi –she was a regular to the neighborhood hamam when she was a kid and she is obviously still very much at ease with the excess of steam inside.

This hamam experience was my sixth or seventh time, so I knew more or less what to expect, but as the admin points out, every hamam has its own peculiar little traditions. For me, this one in Corum will be memorable with its length. The whole waiting-kese-massage procedure took more than 3,5 hours! The kese lady seriously took her time and told me that the “Corum ladies can’t get enough of kese” and she added, “if we keep it too short, they ask for more”. I think my 15 min kese experience at Cemberlitas the previous year did quite the same effect.

And at this hamam, I noticed women tend to interact with strangers more easily and often: After all Corum is a small city and it is certain that so and so’s father-in-law or some other relative used to hang out at the same coffee shop as your brother’s uncle. But they also like telling you their life stories and ask you personal stories. Here it was the first time I heard women talk about their unmarried sons –what movies always tell us what hamams are all about; about finding appropriate brides for sons, nephews and the like.

Overall the hamam was extremely clean. It was cheap. We paid 10 TL each for the whole thing. It was a cold Sunday –the perfect day in my opinion to spend in a hamam.

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Hamam sefası, Sunday hamam pleasures

by admin on Apr.19, 2009, under non Istanbul hamams

Şengül Hamamı

Denizciler Caddesi, Acıçeşme Sokak 3, Ulus, Ankara

This sixteenth century building is located in the old part of Ankara, Ulus. It is located just off of Anafartalar Caddesi. There are few tourists in the hamam. It is fairly well attended most days of the week, but especially on Sundays. I have visited this hamam quite regularly (once a month when I was living in Ankara at least) during the last 25 years. In my childhood, we used to go to this hamam with my family (my grandmother and my mom) and sometimes with our neighbors, generally on Sundays (since my mom used to work). We would take some snacks with us and stay for at least 4-5 hours. We would not stay inside the hot room during all these hours though. Actually, the part I liked most was the waiting/changing room which actually is a covered courtyard as big as the hot room (closed dome) where there was (and still is) a large table and a stove. There were (and still are) always a few women sitting around the table, chatting and eating. This is really the main part where everyone hangs out. Whenever I go to this hamam, a few vendors who sold food (gözleme) and some home textiles (çarşafcı) would be there, also in this courtyard. There too, one could get your hair dyed. You can bring your own dye and then ask for one of the women working there to dye your hair for a few YTL. This courtyard was surrounded by rooms –there were around ten rooms on the ground floor and 5 rooms on the second floor. On the second floor, you could get your legs and other body parts waxed, either in the small rooms or in the area open to the public upstairs. This service was cheaper for those who used the hot room and paid for it; if you came only for waxing, then you had to pay a higher price (For instance, today full-leg waxing is 10 YTL for someone who has also paid to use the hot room (15 YTL), but for someone who doesn’t use the hot room, the price of full-leg waxing alone is 12 YTL. Kese and massaging is another 15 or 20 YTL). The price lists are posted on the walls. One changes in the side rooms but you don’t get a key. Instead you can deposit your valuables in a small corner “security room” with a woman attendant.

There are around 6 or 7 women working inside the hamam for kese and massaging. One thing that was striking to me was that there were always minor frictions among these women about the use of kese space and their customers. Usually, most customers of this hamam are regulars and they prefer (or are supposed to prefer) the same person for kese. There is kind of a deal among kesecis about not stealing each other’s customers. So you’re supposed to wait longer if your keseci has a lot of customers, even though some of the other kesecis are available. For instance, I haven’t changed my keseci for the last 25 years –she was also the one who scrubbed my mom and grandma. Some of these women are related by kinship (three sisters working as kesecis) and have been there most of their lives; at least for the last ten years I have seen only one or two new women in this place. Most women who work in the hamam I know (at least 3-4) are Kurdish origin. There are only three or four women for waxing, they are generally upstairs or around the table. They also have their regular customers. There are no appointments made for their services. A few years ago they hired someone new for waxing (actually it shouldn’t be called hiring, because I think the woman pays them and rents the space she works). She is the only one who does the new-style of sugar-free waxing.

Between the hot room and the main social room there is a warm room where kesecis compete to use the two big marble benches that can fit two people each. They don’t want to scrub on the navel stone inside the hot room because it is too hot in there. Inside the hot room, there is a navel stone surrounded by around 15 marble bath basins (kurna). Generally two women share one basin. Also there are two small alcove rooms in the corners with a few other basins. Ten years ago they converted another corner small room inside the hot room to a dry sauna. They lost some space in terms of the number of basins, but I guess the customers are happier that there is a sauna in the hamam. Normally, I enter and change. Then I either get my hair dyed or go upstairs for waxing. Then I go into the hot room and say hi to my keseci so that she puts me in her line. Then I sweat for 20 minutes until called. Then after kese and massage, I return to the hot room, bathe, and leave.

This is a very traditional and old hamam. It is visited by many people from different parts of Ankara and from different socio-economic classes. In this hamam, I came across women working as prostitutes, teachers, cops, basketball players, college students, but rarely tourists. Women tend to socialize more in the large social space rather than the hot room, although conversation can happen between women sharing the kurna basins or between kesecis and the women being scrubbed. Also there is some gossiping and even ‘nasty’ chit-chat between kesecis. Bathers rarely wash each other unless they are family or came together. Sometimes if I went alone my keseci would help me wash or wash me. My keseci, who is now almost 70, always tells me stories about the people I see around, or complain about other kesecis in competition with her. People generally go around in their underwear (mostly topless; except the scrubbers who have their tops on most of the time). There is a notice on one of the walls telling that full nudity is not allowed (something like “hamama çamaşırsız girmek yasaktır” – bathing naked is forbidden).

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Atatürk’s Bath

by admin on Apr.19, 2009, under non Istanbul hamams


Termal Pool and Hamam. Yalova. 15 pool, 13 hamam, 20 together.
8AM-10PM M-Fri, 8AM-6PM(?) Sa-Su. 

On our way to Bursa, early January, we stopped at Termal, an operational
sulfur spring bath since the Roman period. We took
a dolmuş in, my first, from the parking lot just right of the Yalova
ferry terminal (having taken the ferry from Yenikapı
in Istanbul. We stopped on a whim- we knew that
this location was known for its sulfur springs, and it turned
out that it was a tourist destination for those living in
other areas of Turkey. I can't quite remember the prices, and
also, the services for this establishment was a little
different than we had done previously- we decided to pay to be
able to use the outdoor pool/spring and the interior bath.
That day was very cold – I would guess low thirties (F) – and
I was apprehensive as to how enjoyable the outdoor pool would
be. We were given a room for changing (it was outside, they
were lining the pool area) and changed into bathing suits
that we had brought. The outside pool was busy, a “typical”
sized pool with probably 30 people going in and out, swimming,
playing, or lounging (cooling off) on the reclining chairs.
Entry into the pool was difficult – it was so cold outside,
yet, the pool was so hot! Eventually, upon a cautious entry,
the pool had a delightful heat – scalding at first, but one
gets used to the temperature eventually. Your body temperature
would rise so much that it was comfortable to sit outside of
the pool for at least ten minutes before becoming cold. It seemed
that one person overheated and was feeling dizzy. An EMT came and
she checked him out amidst a crowd of concerned bathers. He was covered
in towels but fine.

Eventually, we made our way into the hamam. It was a quite
different style than I had encountered in Turkey thus far. It
was posted for one to shower before entering the bath (we
obliged) and after you passed through the door, you entered
into a room that surrounded a warm-hot pool of water, oblong,
about 25 feet long. This water was very tolerable, not too hot
to be enjoyed, and the ambient temperature caused us to be
sweating nearly the entire time. In the rear there was a smaller
room with a central basin with only a little water and corner
basins that were cold plunge pools. The last room was a (wet)
steam room, with benches on the sides. This room was the
hottest room I have ever been into, in Turkey or elsewhere,
and I could only endure the heat for short turns. (I came back
to the room multiple times.)
Returning to the original room, there was a room to the side for bathing
(seats, basins, etc.). Some young and middle-aged men were scrubbing each others;
everyone seemed to know each other and be in good spirits, joking around, etc.
They were giving each other keses and soapdowns in what was at times a scrub-chain.
It seemed as if they were enjoying getting into the role of "keseci" and
slapping the kese on each other's back in the usual fashion, then imitating
the movements.
There was another room off of the group scrub room marked for families which we
did not go into.
We returned to the outside pool- apart from the steam room, I
enjoyed that the most. Overall, this was perhaps my favorite,
only because of the pool – It was so nice to be in the heated
water, outside, in the middle of the winter. The sulfur smell
not offensive, in fact it was almost enjoyable. Leaving this
bath/pool I was entirely exhausted and relaxed- my best
experience yet.
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Hamams 101 and Glossary

by admin on Mar.26, 2009, under Intro

This is a short overview of hamam terms and etiquette for anyone who is planning to visit a hamam and either needs to review some common terminology that will come up or want to know generally what one can expect to experience before you go.

Why are there Hamams?

Traditionally, Turkish homes did not feature private bathing facilities. Instead, people had to go to their local bathhouse (hamam) to get clean. The hamam was usually built under the waqf (endowment) of a nearby mosque. In Islam, public baths were especially important due to the religion’s emphasis on personal cleanliness. Public bathhouses are not a unique concept to the Turks. This tradition has been passed down from the Byzantines, and before them the Romans. Going to the baths was a huge part of ancient Roman culture, although the Romans had a hot and a cold room (calidarium and frigidarium, respectively), while Turkish baths tend to only have a hot room. Russians also enjoy going to the banya, and there are many differences to a Turkish bath, most notably that men and women bath together, while in Turkey they are always separated or a bath will have different times in the week designated for the two sexes.

Nowadays most Turkish families have private bathrooms in their homes, so the need for hamams has waned. Men and women still like to go for the pampering, and the massages offered at the hamams could be considered a form of alternative medicine. Other hamams survive largely by catering to tourists.

What to Expect

Upon entry you will find yourself in the main entrance hall (camekan), where an attendant should show you to your personal dressing space, whether it be a locker, stall, cubicle, or private room. The attendant should also provide you with your wrapping towel and sandals. Undress, store your clothes, and wrap the towel around yourself. Once you are ready, signal to the attendant and they will lead you into the hot room (sıcaklık), where you will probably be seated near a basin. You are usually just left alone to sit for awhile and soak in the steam, and to douse yourself with hot or cold water with your bowl. You can give yourself your own bath, which is cheaper, but normally an attendant will signal to you when it is your turn to lie down on the central slab of stone. What you want to have done is completely up to you. Some people opt for just a scrub and then wash themselves down, and some people ask the masseuse to do it all. These services do cost more, but generally they are not very expensive. First, the attendant will scrub you down with a rough scrubbing mitten (kese). Expect large layers of dead skin that you didn’t even know you had to be scrubbed off. Then, you can get a massage, separately or in conjunction with a soaping down, where the attendant will basically use a loofah or washcloth and give you a bath with some body wash. Once you are done with the attendant, you are left to return to your spot in the hot room, and you can relax for a little while. Remember to drink plenty of cold water, especially after a massage, because you get very dehydrated in a hamam. Whenever you are ready, you can return to the entrance hallway to your dressing place, change, and pay on your way out. A 10 to 20% tip is reasonable.

As for the issue of nudity inside of the hot rooms themselves, generally men are expected to keep their wrap cloth on the entire time and women may go totally nude, or wear a swimsuit or underwear, or just their bottoms. For women it very much depends on your age, whether you are a foreigner, and if the hamam is local or touristy. If you want to be on the safe side, wear both bottoms and a bra, and take them off accordingly if you feel comfortable doing so. Also, for Turkish women the removal of body hair is no less than an obsession, so if you want to minimize embarrassment women should make en effort to shave/wax/trim the offending areas, or just keep their bottoms on to cover up their bikini zone when at the hamam.

Remember that you will get completely drenched, so here are some things to remember to bring with you: brush or comb, extra pair of underwear if you wear them in the hamam, makeup, body wash, and shampoo.

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t worry about messing up or being embarrassed and just have a good time. Going to the hamam is a laid-back and relaxing experience, and no Turkish person will expect a foreigner to know how things work anyway, and they will most likely be extremely helpful and forgiving. Also, the expectations about nudity and bathing are different from hamam to hamam, so the most important thing to remember is to observe other people, and then just do as they do. There will almost definitely be other people in the baths before you, so just watch them and take their lead, and have a great time.

Glossary

People

ATTENDANT- tellak

MASSEUR- masör

MASSEUSE- masöz

SCRUBBER- keseci

Materials

BOWL- tas

COMB- tarak

CLOGS- takunya/nalın

HAIR-DRYER- saç kurutma makinesi

MIRROR- ayna

NORMAL TOWEL- havlu

SCRUBBING MITTEN- kese

SHAMPOO- şampuan

SOAP- sabun

WRAP TOWEL- peştamal

Environment

COLD WATER- soğuk su

DRESSING CUBICLE- halvet

ENTRANCE HALL-camekan

HOT ROOM- sıcaklık

HOT WATER- sıcak su

“NAVEL STONE” (CENTRAL SLAB)- göbek taşı

Services

MASSAGE- masaj

SHOWER- duş

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My First Hamam

by admin on Mar.07, 2009, under Beyoğlu hamams

Galatasaray Hamam. Hours: Men’s side 7am-10pm, Women’s side 8am-9pm. Prices are listed in Euros: 26 for a bath, 35 with a kese, 38 with a massage, 44 for kese and massage, 57 for the ‘Pasha’ treatment – oil massage. Beverages are free.

Visited Dec. 19th, Friday, 8:30 pm.

This hamam is located just off of Istiklal Caddesi in an area
populated by tourists, a fact that seems to permeate the
experience of the hamam. The two of us visited the hamam in
December, on a rainy night around 8pm even as the hamam was
to close not far after. The owner greeted us quite warmly,
prices were discussed (interestingly, they were listed in
Euros, another sign of the solicitation to non-Turkish
bathers) and we decided upon a full service experience,
despite the time constraints. This would include the general
admission to the hammam, but also massage and kese. After
being shown to adjacent rooms, the two of us changed into our
peştamals and wooden shoes and were led to the central
hamam proper. Inside there was a quite large stone, emitting
high heat (much to my liking) and the two of us lay upon it for
approximately twenty minutes before the keseci entered. A note
about the space itself – this hamam was quite large, and
again nicely heated, I imagine that 8 men could lie upon the
stone comfortably. At the top of the wall (as the dome starts)
there were neon lights emitting a rotation of the color
spectrum; the revolution was a bit off-putting, however, the
light itself not as much so. (continue reading…)

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