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Bubbles and Boobs

Look, No Hands :)

I visited Turkey in 2011 and had been told that I absolutely had to visit a Hamam (Turkish bath) while I was there. So one particularly hot day, in the hope that the sauna might cool me down a bit, I decided to give it a go.

It was rather confusing at first because there are different areas for different parts of the process. Fortunately, you are assigned an 'assistant' who guides you around and gives you optional services like a scrub or massage.

Having got changed into a bikini, I was taken to a steam room where a man came and rubbed off several layers of the tan that I'd been working so hard to build up.

Then, on a marble bench, I was washed with a light, fluffy, bubbly cloud gently gliding along my skin – a bit like a bubble bath with no water. From what I could see, this was achieved by putting some soap inside a wet pillow case, filling it with air, and then giving it a good squeeze, forcing the soap and bubbles out through the material.

After that, the man gave me an oil massage. All this time he was splashing hot, warm and cold water over me at carefully timed intervals.

I came out feeling refreshed and relaxed and convinced that I wanted to repeat the experience before I left the country.

Doesn't sound like much of a dog's dinner yet, I know, but bear with me.

Fast forward to my last day, I was in Istanbul and decided to visit another Hamam before heading to the airport to catch my flight. I was soooo looking forward to those light floaty bubbles again!

I was again taken to a room to change, but this time was told to get completely naked! I hadn't been expecting that, and all I was given to protect my modesty was an oversized tea towel. I was left to wash myself for a while, thankfully not in a communal bathing area.

This place was clearly not a fan of clothes, because my 'assistant' this time turned out to be a woman wearing only a pair of black lace knickers! And don't go thinking of a slim, sexy, young lady; this was a well-matured, generously-proportioned Turkish woman who had clearly been doing this for a long time.

I don't want to get too graphic, but I will say that I could feel more than just her hands massaging my back, although I'm sure this wasn't intentional on her part. And while she was obviously used to being so sparingly dressed in front of strangers and was just doing her job, I just couldn't quite get comfortable with the situation.

I'm not sure whether it was all the exposed flesh that made the bubbles seem less light and fluffy, or whether they really were just not as good as the first place I'd been to, but I felt rather disappointed with the whole experience. At least I knew I was squeaky clean as I checked in for my flight.

So the moral of the story is… If you visit baths or a spa in Turkey, or in fact any foreign country, be prepared to leave your modesty behind along with your clothes, and don't be surprised to find things done quite differently to what you're used to!

pop the bubble and head home here

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