As a special treat, Michelle and I went to a Hammam Spa on Wednesday evening. Now those that know me well, know that I love to spa. As a matter of fact, at home in the States I get a massage every 6 weeks (as does Josh). I love my masseuse - Kellie. She's awesome. I've missed her terribly since arriving in Spain and have eagerly awaited finding a good masseuse that would come close to Kellie. My sitter, Alefiya, had recommended to me the Rituels d'Orient spa not too far from where we live. http://www.rituelsdorient.com/ She said that she went and it was an amazing experience... so I said, sign me up!!
Nothing, I mean nothing, could have prepared me for what we had in store for us. 160 minutes, that's 2 hrs and 40 mins... of pure relaxation and bliss. For those that don't know what a Hammam bath is, let me tell you so you have an idea of what we were about to experience. A Hammam bath is the Turkish form of a sauna, distinguished by a focus on water, as opposed to steam. In Western Europe, the Hammam bath is a method of cleansing the body and relaxation. According to wikipedia, a person taking a Hammam first relaxes in a room (known as the warm room) that is heated by a continuous flow of hot, dry air allowing the bather to perspire freely. Bathers may then move to an even hotter room (known as the hot room) before splashing themselves with cold water. After performing a full body wash and receiving a massage, bathers finally retire to the cooling-room for a period of relaxation.
As far as our experience goes, first we were given a sarong (at first we had no idea why we needed this since we had our bathing suits on), then led down the stairs to where the baths are located. The baths are dimly lit which adds to the relaxation - no strain on the eyes. The room we go to is incredibly warm and humid - our first room was approximately 80% humidity. The walls are made of stone and were incredibly hot to the touch. There are stone platforms / benches that line the wall. It is here that we needed our sarongs - to lay on. In front of us is a small pool - similar in size to a hot tub only the water is not hot, it's actually quite cool, but not shockingly cold. There is also a sink with bowls and these are used to pour water over yourself when the heat in the room becomes to hot.
For a while we alternated between laying on the stone slabs and dunking ourselves in the small pool or pouring water over ourselves. After about 20 minutes we added in the next room which was 100% humidity. I will be honest, I didn't last long here. With the 100% humidity and the heavy scent of eucalyptus in the air, I found it a bit hard to breathe. However, Michelle liked this room. So again we were alternating - 2 rooms now, pool / bowls of water.
In between the two rooms (there is a hallway with an open door to the right as you walk back and forth between the 80% and 100% humidity rooms), there was a room with two raised stone slabs, a shower and a sink. This is where we were brought for our first treatment. You lay down on the slab which unlike the 80% room, is actually quite cool and refreshing given the room is still at that 80% humidity and is quite hot. But again, it's not so cold that you are shivering. They slather you with mud and then use the bowls of water to rinse you off. Remember, you're in a bathing suit so it's no big deal to have bowls of water poured all over you. Next, they go out the scrub - it was similar to a sea salt scrub you would have at home, though quite vigorous and I wondered if I'd have any skin left after but still relaxing at the same time. Finally, one more coat of the mud and they said something to Michelle we didn't understand and left the room. So our one funny moment of the experience was, what now??? Do we get up and shower ourselves off now or are we supposed to wait a while?? We gave it 5 minutes and finally decided to do it ourselves.
Off to the 80% room again to wait for our massages - again, alternating between the hot slab of stone and the pool. The women from the mud/salt room came back and so apparently we were supposed to wait. I'll know that for the next time (yes, I have already booked a next time - this one for Josh and I). We were brought upstairs for our massages. This part I found very similar to the massages I get regularly at home which was a good thing - incredibly relaxing!!!
But we're not done yet! After our massage, we go down to the relaxation area where we are given hot glasses of peppermint tea and a Turkish dessert treat! We relaxed in this area and just chatted for at least a 1/2 hr. This area was full of plush couches and pillows to just lay down on and chill out. Ahhhhh....
Alas, our time came to an end. But the 2 hrs and 40 mins felt more like all day and I don't remember the last time I relaxed like this. You must think, what an expensive treat this was... but no! All of this for just 89 euro!! Can you believe it? Yes, I will be going here on a regular basis now and I can't wait for Josh to go and have this experience. For once I will say, this is something about Spain that I truly enjoy over my usual American experience!