Any woman loves being treated to a spa so when you visit a country that is historically and culturally renown for their traditional spas, there is no missing out on this must-do activity. Hamams have been around for centuries since the era of the Ottoman Empire and have become a staple representation of the luxuriousness of the era. On our second day in Antalya, we started off our morning with a full service hamam treatment at one of Antalya’s oldest and traditional hamams, Tahiri Balik Pazari Hamam. From the outside it really doesn’t look like anything fancy, but the experience inside was super fun and relaxing.
Naturally, there are two separate entrances for men and woman and luckily as part of the perks of traveling off season, my friend and I were the only customers. The women working there were thrilled to have us. They barely spoke English (which I kinda liked because I felt it made the experience more authentic) but really, there isn’t much communication needed when all you have to do is get naked and have another person scrub you down.
We were lead to the change room cabins where my friend and changed into our bikinis. We came out and the women chuckled and teased us at our touristy-ness and urged us to take everything off. Too shy to be completely naked, we sacrificed only our bikini tops. Wrapped around in a traditional striped towel, we were led into the path of a steamy, white marble passage way. We were brought to a communal section where we sat down by a faucet and a built-in marble basin attached to the walls. We were told to fill up the basin with warm water and to pour the water on our body and hair using a tin bowl. The room was steamy and warm and as my friend and I spoke, our voices echoed all around the anciently hut-shaped clay roof of the hamam. Although at first we were a little shy being naked, after a short while we slowly eased into the “When in Rome” mentality and just sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the liberating experience.
After about 20 minutes of us dosing ourselves with warm water, the woman came back and we each had our turn to get Hamam-ed. I was brought into a room that had a huge square marble island in which you are told to lie down. The woman poured warm water all over me and exfoliated me with scrubbing mitts. She scrubbed everywhere. Everywhere. After she was done scrubbing, she proudly showed traces of black residue on my arms. Horrified, I quickly realized that it wasn’t dirt – it was just my dead skin cells that have been scrubbed off my skin. After she rinsed me off with warm water, I ran my fingers against my arm and felt rejuvenated ultra soft skin.
Now the fun part began. My hamam lady took a long white cloth, lathered it with soap and then blew into the cloth to form a sort of parachute with the cloth. She took this blown up soapy cloth over my body and slowly squeezed it down to deliver a huge cloud of bubbly suds, slowly landing on my body. It was the funnest thing ever! I felt like I was floating in a mountain of a million bubbles, beautifully fragrant of olive soap. After my entire body was filled with these soapy bubbles, she washed me. This ain’t the time to be shy, by the way. After I was rinsed off, my hamam lady told me to sit down. She took some shampoo, washed my hair and massaged my scalp. She then rinsed and combed my hair which I think she enjoyed doing because she kept exclaiming in Turkish at how long my hair was. After she was done combing it, she braided my hair as I sat on the edge of the marble island. I honestly felt like a Turkish sultana.
After the exhilarating washing and rinsing was done, we were taken to our changing cabins to dry off and I headed over to the massage room where the hamam experience sadly came to an end after a relaxing thirty minute body massage. After we left, we felt so refreshed, smooth, clean and unbelievably relaxed. We headed over to the marina, laid down out on the rocks and passed out to the sound of the Mediterranean sea and to the feeling of the warm sun kissing our smooth hamamed skin.