Experiencing a Turkish Hammam

Hello Dear Readers!

As I told you guys yesterday, we crammed as many things as possible into our two day trip to Nicosia, which meant that on Friday we rose bright and early in order to make the most out of our time in Cyprus.

One of the first things we did was head to the Turkish side, which is radically different from the Greek side. To put it simply, the Greek side is European, with all the normal chains, stores, and brands that you’d expect to see strewn across Europe. In contrast, the Turkish side is decidedly foreign, with small shops shoved everywhere and boatloads of Ray-Bons, Guci, and Louise Viton for sale at very good prices.

They also have a famous Turkish Hammam, one of two in the city, which we stumbled upon and decided, “Hey, when in Rome!”

We walked in and it happened to be mixed hour, so we paid up, got our covering cloths, and made our way down to the hammam itself.

So. It’s a bath, right? You shower yourself and get all sudsy and everything. And it’s public, right? Well, they gave Harrison a pair of shorts about the length of regular swim trunks. Me? I got the standard covering cloth, which covered the very top of my bottom and the very bottom of my top. And nothing more.

So in we walk, him all comfortable and confident and me hunched over like a troll to make sure all my bits stay covered. It’s pretty empty, just one other man, and we head to one of the separate areas to start bathing. It’s going pretty well, I’m relaxing and everything, and when we finish we head to the heated marble plinth to await a scrubbing from a formidable Turkish woman.

As we’re laying there more people wander in. Excuse me, more men wander in. It is mixed hour, after all. And one of these men, upon seeing us lying there, gets this huge grin on his face and comes to lie down.

He lowers himself to the marble, his teeny cloth tucked betwixt his legs, and props his head on his hand. He’s utterly at his ease, this jovial Turkish man for whom the hammam is a normal part of life. He’s like a Greek god with a beer belly, and his roving eyes keep flicking between Harrison and I, working as he tries to puzzle out our relationship.

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An accurate approximation of our Turkish friend

Fortunately, a few minutes later the woman comes in for my scrubbing, and she proceeds to scour me until I have absolutely no skin left. She also asks me to flip over to my back without a covering on my front, which I do while acutely aware of my nakedness. Luckily nobody but her was watching, but damn if it wasn’t uncomfortable.

After I was done, Harrison took his turn, and she was much nicer to him, not forcing him to be naked whatsoever, a fact that I will envy forever.

Afterwards we changed back into our clothes and headed out, cleaner, more cultured, and grinning with glee at our luck of stumbling into the hammam.

Also, Harrison took a surprise photo of me walking out of the hammam, which he hates and I use to torture him, because it’s a constant reminder of how seriously dorky I am. Enjoy.

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Heeeey you guuuuuys!

-Carissa “Cultured” Rawson

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