Some of the NSLI-Y students recently literally submerged themselves in the Turkish culture when they visited a traditional Turkish bathhouse called a hamam. In Turkey, going to the hamam with friends is a popular way to relax and cleanse. As the NSLI-Y students soaked in the different pools throughout the hamam, they also practiced their Turkish skills with the locals. Think you might want to go to a hamam someday? Read below for a step-by-step guide:
At first, you pay through a gate to access the hamam. Then, you store your valuables in a safe and head up to the changing room where you change into your bathing clothes. For most of the men at the hamam, they wear swim trunks, but some just wear a special thin towel that you wrap around the waist. Afterwards you head to the hamam area. First there is the bathing room which is a rectangular room with marble benches at knee level surrounding the entire room. There are basins of water that can be filled with the taps that flank the walls. This hamam was special because the water came from the natural springs of the mountain nearby. Also in the middle of the room is a giant slab of marble that you can lay on to get cool from all the hot rooms that are available. Of course the hamam is super humid. First you bathe. You sit down and wash your hair and your body. What typically happens is you go with friends and sit and talk at every station. After bathing, you can go to the hot pool room which is 38-42 degrees Celsius, aka burning hot. You inhale and feel you are swimming in midair. You step in, scorch your feet, walk down some shallow stairs and then, holding your breath, you let your knee bend and sink your body neck-deep in the water. It supposedly is good because you kill all the germs and you open all your pores.
-George, NSLI-Y Turkey, Summer 2014