At first, Mr. Wonderful didn’t want to go. I understood how he felt. He’d never had a massage. He felt the same way I did in Bangkok: kinda squiked and self-coconscious. Neither of us is used to 1) massage or 2) being naked around strangers.
Our friend Gary (last seen as my host in Bangkok) had recommended Cemberlitas Hamami. It was beautiful and ancient.
I had no idea what to expect, except that we would be separated by gender. You check you clothes in a locker and are given a black panties, a pair of plastic shoes, a queen size bath sheet and a loofah hand mitt.
Luckily, the staff at Cemberlitas knew an idiot when they met one. My minder was a 70-year-old Grandmother type. She led me to the tepid and cool water pools and did my scrub.
The rooms are really, really warm. I sat around and baked for a while, then soaked myself till I was a noodle. Afterwards, I sat on a huge circular marble pedestal and waited my turn for the scrub.
The nice Grandmother type pointed me down to the edge of the pedestal, motioned for me to lie down and proceeded to toss a bucket of cold water on me. While I was gasping for breath, she scrubbed a layer off my skin with what felt like a Brillo Pad. Just before I started to bleed, she tossed a bucket of warm water on me and covered me in foamy suds. I got another rubdown, much less rough, followed by a warm rinse. She then washed my hair complete with a heavenly head massage.
She took me by the arm and marched me into the massage room. It was warm and quiet. I had an hour of hot oil massage that left me feeling like a superhero. I floated back to the lobby and met Mr. W. He’d had a similar great experience.
It was late as we walked back to Hotel Sultanahmet. We stopped for pistachio baklava and a tiny cup of mint tea. I lay in bed for a long time with the window open, before I fell asleep, listening to the foreign voices and sounds. Istanbul is a great city.
Here is the view from our hotel room. We could hear the call to worship from the Blue Mosque.