Saturday, 7 July 2007

Turkish baths

You shouldn't need to go to the Turkish Baths to warm up in July, even in Newcastle which isn't exactly known for its scorching weather. But sometimes you just have to admit defeat.

I've honestly no idea how Newcastle Council can afford to keep the Turkish Baths going. They are 'advertised' as the best kept secret in town, but I think they're kind of missing the point. I lived here for three years at one point without even being aware that they existed, even though I went swimming in the same building every so often. I don't remember ever finding out they were there; it's almost like the knowledge seeped into my head. Whenever I mention them to anyone, they always seem to respond the same: 'I've always wanted to go there!'

I don't think they are the most authentic Turkish Baths ever, either, but they're pretty good value. £6.95, or £16.95 with a massage; either way, it includes a swim in the price too which makes it even better. It's a good place to go to unwind, and the sexes get different days too, which helps. Men get Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; women get Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

It was only the third time I've been there, but I enjoyed it the most. Mainly because this time I remembered to eat before I went in - the heat must do something strange to my metabolism, because I'll quite often not have tea til 8.30pm on weeknights, but by 8pm the first time I felt absolutely faint with hunger, and the second time I wasn't much better. I also drank enough water this time to stop me dehydrating.

I went along with a girl from work - there were meant to be a few of us going, but everyone else dropped out. I think we were both a bit nervous about going on our own, but it actually worked out really well and we got on fine with no awkward silences.

The heat doesn't feel too bad when you first go in, but after you've sat there for a while it starts to build up. I can't stand to go to the hottest point for more than a minute or so. Maybe I'll build up a tolerance in time, but I doubt it. I've never been able to stand terribly hot temparatures. I'm better with the steam room, funnily enough, but I do tend to get bored a lot quicker in there. I've never paid the extra for the massage, but I always think I should one day. The heat does seem to melt away any tension or stress, anyway, and I always go out nice and relaxed.

Only problem was that when we left, it was abolutely chucking it down. Now that's typical Geordie weather at the minute.


Imperatrix said...

That's a *fabulous* price for soaking and massage. When I lived in California, there was a place called "Watercourse Way" that had several rooms for private (that is, up to 6 people) soaks. Each room was tiled in different colors and styles. We only went once, but gosh, I wish we had done it more often!

pierre l said...

A very good description, B. I have a feeling that the Romans used to go directly from the hot area into a cold swimming pool. So you went out into the geordie rain instead.
I have never tried a Turkish Bath, or indeed has a proper massage.
Let us all know how you get on with the massage when you have tried it.

b said...

I always mean to go regularly, every time I get round to going. I try and go swimming with one of my friends every week, so I'm sure I could manage to find an extra £4 most weeks, even if not all!

pierre l, that's quite a good point about the rain - makes me feel I should have appreciated it more :)