Day 9: The Other Tour — Okey in a café and Turkish bath

Sorry this has taken so long to update.  I have been working on some personal changes recently, and I will absolutely be updating on a more regular schedule more often.  Thanks so much for reading!

From the Rum neighborhood we walked over to a great little café to have drinks and play okey – a tile game a lot like rummikub.  I have played rummikub with my family, so I picked up okey very quickly.  We were so tied, though.  I remember sitting and trying to talk to everyone but desperately wanting to fall asleep in my chair.  Luckily there was a little puppy running around the café that Chris and I got to snuggle and it helped me to wake up.

bath house2 3

bath house2 1

The puppy and I playing okey

bath house2 2

We also had this fantastic drink, salep, which was a warm, sweet, thick drink that tasted like cinnamon.  Mmmm!

Salep, common drink in cold weather.

Salep, a common drink in cold weather.

From there, we headed to an authentic Turkish bath.  This is one of the highlights of the whole day.  I highly recommend the experience for anyone visiting the area.

We began by stepping into a mixed gender entrance with a fountain and lovely domed ceiling.  From there we split off into the women’s section where a woman directed us to numbered changing rooms.  I brought along a bathing suit to wear into the baths, but, to tell you the truth, there was no need for modesty.  Everything is sopping wet in there and when they massage you, suits get in the way, so it was much easier to leave modesty at the door.

From the changing rooms we were led into an area of mostly white marble and the air gets very warm and steamy.  There are toilets you can use on the way in and then it opened up into a large sectioned room of blue and white and gray marbles.  You are only given this thin sarong to wear inside and within moments it is sopping wet.  The sound of running water is everywhere.

There is a wooden steam room at the back which we were told to go into first.  Basically, this is hot and dry, the air superheated, and you stay in for as long as you can stand, which most likely isn’t very long.  From there you step back out into the open area and wait your turn for the massages.

We were not sure what to expect.  No real instructions were given and the girls did not speak much English.  So, the other ladies from my tour and I mostly sat on the warm marble benches and waited our turns, chatting amicably.  The benches are in square sections to the side of the middle of the room.  The center of the bath has large, low heated daises where the women do the massages.  The side area where we sat, I’ll call it the waiting area, had raised marble lining the square’s edge where we sat, and it was punctuated by sinks of constantly running water with little plastic bowls floating in them.  These are used to throw water over yourself to rinse off after the first and second parts of the massage.  The floors are all slick with water everywhere as are the benches, so you are waterlogged immediately, but so is everyone else, so, even those of us on the shy side didn’t mind after a while.  The girls doing the massages work in bathing suits.

The first part of the massage is an exfoliation.  The girl calls you over and rubs you down with a rough sponge.  This is not unpleasant; I found it to be quite nice.  Then you go over to one of the sinks and throw water over your body with the plastic bowls to rinse off.  You may wait a while before the second part.  They will call you over for the second part of the massage which is the best part.  You lay down your sarong, which is soaked through and not much more than a wash rag at this point and lay face down on top of it.  They have these really neat net-like bags that have soap in them.  They blow in one end, close it up, and then, similar to milking a cow, run their hands down the bag and tons of soap bubbles come out through the netting on the other side.  It was really neat.  They rub you down with the soap bubbles and give you a great, but quick, massage, front and back.  I had a large lady who got into my back muscles really good, which, by this time in our trip, I needed it!  Later, Chris told me his massage was also very rough, in a good way.  He was very pleased.

From there, we rinsed off with the bowls again, and then there is this fantastic freshwater pool to finish off the experience.  It is raised up high toward the ceiling and you climb a little ladder to get in.  At the top is a simple, square pool of warm freshwater which I thoroughly enjoyed swimming in.

All in all, it was a wonderfully relaxing and unique experience and we were disappointed we couldn’t fit one more bathhouse visit in before we left Istanbul.  Chris and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

When we were finished, we went back to our changing rooms and got dressed for the last part of our adventure with The Other Tour.

View of bathhouse front from the street.

View of bathhouse front from the street.

Turning back this is the view of the street as you enter/exit.  That is The Other Tour van that dropped us off :)

Turning back this is the view of the street as you enter/exit. That is The Other Tour van that dropped us off 🙂

Ducking in from the street, there is a sign letting you know women and men can enter the bathhouse here...

Ducking in from the street, there is a sign letting you know women and men can enter the bathhouse here…

Heading down the steps into the entrance hall.

Heading down the steps into the entrance hall.

Warm, clean welcome area

Warm, clean welcome area

Upper and lower floors of changing rooms with a pretty, plaster, domed ceiling overarching the area.

Upper and lower floors of changing rooms with a pretty, plaster, domed ceiling overarching the area.

One last picture of the sign as we leave...

One last picture of the sign as we leave…since 1475!?  I hope that is true, this is going in the book!

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One comment on “Day 9: The Other Tour — Okey in a café and Turkish bath

  1. Julie Luek says:

    Oooo and Ahhhh– sounds amazing!

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