After paying for the bath and massage I was presented with a cotton “pestemal” (towel) and a locker. I discreetly eyed the others to discover the ritual and degree of disrobing. The much larger, much older and fully clothed woman in charge spirited my bare body toward another door. I entered it and was face to butt with about 50 women mostly laying on this colossal round heated marble platform, some on their backs, some on their fronts and some just sitting around.
Everyone was completely naked other than the workers who were adorned in underpants. There were washing areas around the platform although most of the women were rubbed down right there on the group table by singing masseuses with skinny breasts hanging and swinging in their potent strokes. Big soap bubbles overflowed their cloths like a washing machine overdosed on detergent.
I approached the stone stage and timidly sat at the edge with my body wrapped securely in my towel until a person in panties moved me to another part of the stage. I geared up for my Old World experience but was quickly awakened when she asked if I wanted a bikini wax.
I politely declined, thinking that while this friendly and professional woman probably did not harbor any anti-American feelings, there was no need to give her an opportunity to prove otherwise.
Sound bounced off the high ceiling as the washer-women employees sang. With the floating bubbles, dancing motions and happy melodies it was easy to drift into a momentary dreamland.
For twenty minutes I was scrubbed and turned like a pancake on a griddle. With a spotless and sparkling body, I was paraded to a little marble sink situated around the perimeter where my hair was washed. Once again I was displayed on the slab as part of the people pizza to dry in the ambiance of relaxation.
Years later, the cave hotel in Cappadocia visited just this past year had its own hammam; one as experienced as me was able to bathe, scrub, steam and recline all on my own.