Firstly apologies for my radio silence, but my holiday was absolutely divine and to be completely detached from the real world meant I got to truly relax and enjoy the time with our South African family we so rarely get to see.
The whole experience was so amazing but one thing I would love to share with you is the Turkish Baths; we went to a private Hammam so we weren’t flung in at the deep end but still something I would unreservedly recommend it if you decide to travel to Turkey. It was so relaxing; I could easily have fallen asleep in there. Each experience is slightly different as I have read the therapies differ depending on whether you visit a more western or traditional Hammam and also what packages they have available.
So we started in the Sauna to unwind and we were called into the wash room in pairs so my sister and I went together. The room was full of steam, gurgling water fountains of various temperature and an enormous marble slab in the centre of the room which we were asked to lie on. The thing that struck me the most about the marble was just how hot it was. It was absolutely baking but as soon as you lie down and have bowls of warm water thrown on you, it is absolutely idyllic.
After we both lay down we were scrubbed down completely from head to toe. It was so therapeutic and afterwards my skin felt so soft and new. I was enjoying it so much I just went completely limp and almost fell asleep amongst the steam and the heat. (Initially was worried about the men scrubbing off my hard-earned tan but it survived. Yes, and there were only men in the Hammam where we were. This initially seemed rather odd as it was the first time I had ever been to a spa and been massaged by a man but they were brilliant and actually the extra strength made the massage that much deeper and more effective.)
We were again dowsed all over with bowls of warm water; I cannot emphasise how calming such a simple thing can be! Then we turned over and just enjoyed the heat for ten minutes. By now my mum and uncle had come out of the sauna to join us but as we were still hogging the table, they enjoyed the steam room and the fountains of bubbling water. We then got completely soaped up with a hot, almost oily lather that felt so moisturising. It was really great to feel the little bubbles pop all over on your skin! They gave us a light rub down, followed by a final dowsing of warm water.
By now I’m sure I was very pink and puffy from all the heat, as, like my mother, my face tends to go beetroot red at the slightest sign of heat. The guy who was bathing me must have seen this as just before we finished he got me to sit up and poured a bowl of ice cold water all over my head and hair. It totally took me by surprise but the contrast with the heat was absolutely amazing!
Then we were both led to the massage parlour where we had clay masks and an oil massage. Both were so relaxing and invigorating. He really went to town on my back and started pulling my arms in all sorts of directions, I thought he might pull them out of their sockets but afterwards it felt great so he must have known what he was doing. Perhaps that is the difference between a male and female masseuse; it hurt like hell but he had more strength to get at those pesky shoulder knots.
Afterwards, my sister and I enjoyed some gorgeous Turkish sweet tea whilst my mum and uncle had the same treatments. Usually we are a very active family on holiday but taking some time out and being incredibly indulgent was brilliant. If you find yourself in a region with a Hammam, you would be doing yourself an injustice not to try it out.