18.08.2014 - 18.08.2014
So now in Turkey, my 60th country to date. Well on my way to my lifetime goal of 100 by 50. Since last hearing from me, I have been to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, and now Turkey! Exhausting, but well worth the blood, sweat and tears to get here.
So I'll catch you up. There is so much to see and do in Istanbul, its hard to know where to start. One of the first things I wanted to do was try out a Turkish Bath, or Haman. So I go through my Lonely Planet and read online and settle one one. Unsure of the dress code, I google some tourist forums and see what everyone says. Mostly, they say that its expected to wear at least bikini bottoms in the saunas and bathing areas. So that's what I decide on. I walk into the sauna and I'm a little surprised. It appears that everyone had read different forums since I was the only person (all female btw) wearing anything at all! I am wearing one single piece of clothing and yet I've never felt so overdressed :0 Oh, and flip flops at times.
Fuck it, I look good naked.
My wardrobe for the Turkish Bath. The towel is for hair.
I lay down on a large marble octagon, staring up at the ceiling. The bath is a large building with a domed roof. Stars are cut in the ceiling, like small sun lights. I soak up the steam.
My attendant walks in and introduces herself. She instructs me to sit next to a gold sink. She's carrying a pouch of what I can only assume are bathing supplies and a gold pan and fills it with water. She dowses me head to toe in hot water. She then put some sort of mitt on and scrubbed my skin. Now I'm a very clean person. Its not unusual for me to shower more then twice a day in extreme heat. So it comes to my surprise how much dead skin I was carrying around. It all rolls up in little balls on top of my skin. She takes the pan again and dumps the water on me, washing the skin down the drain with it. She takes my hand and instructs me to lay down on the octagon again. She then takes what looks like a pillow case and dunks it in water. She then proceeds to twirl it around, filling it up with air. She crushes the pillowcase over me and I'm covered in a mountain of bubbles. She does it over and over again to the point where I'm probably not visible under the soapy froth. She rubs the soap into my skin. I'm face down, she notices my tattoo and mentions that she's from Bali. I haven't been there yet, but I will someday.
She dumps more hot water on me, rinsing the copious soap away. She instructs me to sit by the sink again. She rummages through her supplies and takes out a small vile. She pours its contents into her hand and starts washing my hair. I didn't realize that a spa package was this inclusive! Once my hair is rinsed, she starts to condition and massages my scalp. She rinses my hair one last time. She says that its all done and holds up a robe. I slip into it and carefully step into the flip flops. I follow her out to the lounge and lay on the sofa for what I thought would be a few minutes. Later turned out to be an hour.
Istanbul has been surprisingly cool since arriving. I thought it would be well in the 30s, almost 40s. Which is great because I burn in and instant and sweat like 5 grown men sharing one body. I checked out the Hagia Sofia, Grand Bazaar, The Archaeology Museum, and the Istanbul Modern Museum. The Modern museum is a modern arts museum on the edge of town. There was this one video of a many performing taxidermy on a goat's head (or what I think was a goat's head). Very cool museum. Its always great to see other cultures interpretations of art theories and periods.
Grand Bazaar was pretty awesome, but VERY hard to navigate around. Its much larger (or grander, if you will). I made a mental note of the shops near the entrance, knowing would have been a bit confusing. But when I got in there, so many of the shops are so similar, and there are so many of them, that was a lost cause. I left through the wrong door that lead me to some neighbourhood where everyone carries stuff on their heads. Eventually finding my way back to the main part of town. One thing that really freaked me out where these stones called nazars. They look like flattened out eye balls. Freaky!
Istanbul has been really awesome, definitely my favourite stop on this trip.
Next one oddly eluding country, Wales. I've tried making a stop there in my last two trips to London, but its gotten away from me each time.
Heres hoping it works out!