We closed out 2013 with a visit to a Hamam, a Turkish bath house. We asked for a recommendation from our host, Cem, and he gave us a few options. We ended up choosing the Kadirga Hamam in Fatih.
The place has been in operation since 1505, built for the Egyptian Governor Yahya Pasha bin Abdulhay. It serves both men and women. The place doesn’t look like much on the outside but inside is a different story.
It’s not fancy but beautiful, nonetheless. The bathing rooms are all marble, including the floors, the bath tubs, walls and basins. The ceilings of all the individual areas are domed with series of glass portholes which provided the only light source until electricity was put in.
We were shown into individual changing rooms and given slippers and a towel to wrap around our private bits. The first stop was the sauna. The marble floor was so hot, you could not touch it with bare feet so the slippers provided came in handy.
Next was a scrubbing with a loofa glove. I was taken into a small cubicle where a large man gave me an exfoliation to end all exfoliations. This was followed with a washing with soap from top to bottom, except my bottom and boy bits, which he told me to do myself. This was interspersed with repeated dousings of hot water.
Next stop: the massage table. Believe me, there is nothing like being tossed around like a steak on a marble slab by a burly Turk in a 500-year-old bath house. But he was gentle with practiced hands. It felt great. More dousings followed and I was told to head back to the sauna to rest.
After that, another rinse and out to the central area where I was dried off, swaddled in towels and given water and tea, joining Lyle to relax for a while and dry off. I can highly recommend Kadirga Hamam. It was not busy and I doubt this is on the tourist radar. We were in there for 90 minutes and it was quite cheap, 50 Lira. We each tipped the guy a fiver. All in all, a great ending to a great year.
We went back to the apartment where we had dinner and then headed to Taksim Square to ring in the new year along with a couple of million other people. What a trip!
We are now at the Istanbul airport sitting in the business class lounge enjoying all it has to offer while we wait for our delayed flight to Cairo and connection to our next stop: Oman. Happy 2014! We will continue to update the blog from Oman and beyond.