Special feature - Hamam:
A hamam is a turkish bath with sauna and massage. It's very common and a popular pastime among turks. Hamams are often offered in tourist destinations as well and even in some parts of the western world. I was invited to a hamam by my friends Nes and Alptug in a place called Kizilcahamam (north of Ankara), perhaps the first tourist to ever set foot in this place.
In a hamam you follow a series of steps:
First, in a big room with plenty of marble sinks and benches you wash yourself with soap and warm water. Second, in the next room, you go into a pool of very hot water for about 5min. This pool was seriously hot. There was a temperature display that showed 42 degrees Celsius. Getting in wasn't easy but I once in I felt okay. After that you take a cold shower, not my kind of thing. I only had a very brief shower. Fourth and last thing is to go into the sauna, which was rather mildly warm. We were sitting there and I was struggling with the heat and exhaustion. Looking bad I realized I showed have cooled down more in the cold shower. Alptug said we'll do this loop about 7 to 10 times, then we'd get a massage. As we started the second loop I really felt tired. The hot pool was killing me and I still didn't like the cold shower. I had no idea how I would do a third loop, not even thinking of doing another 5. I got new hope when someone said that the hamam will close soon. In the third round I was dragging out the washing part for as long as possible. I struggled to get into the hot pool. Every fiber of my body rebelled and when I was inside I just wanted to get out. The temperature had risen to 43 degrees. I tried my best to follow Alptugs instructions and to stay as long inside as possible. This time I jumped under the cold shower and embraced it. We went to get the massage. Unfortunately the guys were busy and we had to come back a little later. Your body is supposed to be hot for the massage. As I wanted to do it right there was no alternative: I had to get into the hot pool again. I'd like to think that I'm a tough guy, with the cycling and all, but I seriously struggled with the hot pool. I felt dizzy, my pulse was accelerated. As I walked in my skin was tingling. I struggled physically and mentally. I just wanted to get it over with.
Finally I got the massage from a big hairy guy. I lay down on a hard marble table. The room was nice and warm though. It started with a skin rub. It was quite rough on the skin but I wished it would be a bit rougher on the muscles. I didn't know this part was still to come and I soon regretted my wish. As the guy tried to rub me into the marble table I could not help it and screamed in agony. I didn't hear anybody else scream and wonder if the guy was particularly rough on me because I was obviously a tourist. My back (and chest) hurt the entire next day. The massage on the legs was pretty good though. I was happy as I finally survived all treatments. I felt really good, renewed and clean. I should probably get another hamam at some point.
I couldn't take any pictures, sorry.