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Immersed in Istanbul:Cemberlitas Hamami, historic Turkish bath

April 12, 2012

“You must go,” insisted my Turkish friend Sule.  “Hammans, Turkish bathhouses, are important social gathering places all over the county.  They’re like your coffeehouses.  When I go home to my village in Anatolia I ring up my girlfriends and arrange a meeting at our favorite hamman.  My husband and brother do the same.”

I hesitated, thinking of what some of my friends had reported.  Sue had Mark had slid around on dirty, oily floors when visiting Budapest.  I could not fall on this trip.  When in Germany, Kate understood enough to know that the large, well-endowed women at a German bath thought her svelte figure would prevent her from having babies.  Joan complained that a masseuse in a bath would not stop when she felt her bones were being yanked from their sockets.  Ouch.

“Americans are shy about being nude,” I said to  Sule, “strange as it may seem with all the exposed skin in movies.”

“I kno-o-ow,” said Sule.  So she’d heard this argument before. “But Cemberlitas Hamman is a good place for foreigners.  It’s right in the heart of the Old City, near the Grand Bazaar and the historic sites.”

“Do you have to go nude?”

Sule giggled.  “You can wear your bathing suit if you want.”

Deal clinched.  What did I have to lose?

“Women’s entrance?” I asked when I reached the street corner a few short blocks east of the Grand Bazaar.  I saw the Egyptian obelisk Sule had told me to look for…….READ MORE at

Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Section, Sunday, March 11, 2012.

By Emilie C. Harting

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