We have really enjoyed our little hotel stay in Istanbul. We were only supposed to stay 1 night and have ended up staying 3 nights, when you include the sleep we had on arrival at 0330. We could have easily stayed another night but have bitten the bullet and arranged ourselves a campervan to tour Turkey and are not able to pick it up until tonight at 2000. On our final day in Istanbul it rained and we really didn’t feel like going outdoors at all.
What to do on a rainy day in Istanbul? I know, let’s go to a Hammam, Turkish bath.
It was a unique experience for us all.
Here is my personal account: first of all you get naked, then you put on some clogs, wrap a small tea towel around your waist and enter the male only area. The first thing you notice is heaps of naked men laying around in a sauna like marble room. So I just copied everyone else and laid down next a bloke on the large round hot stone in the middle of the room. After about 10-15 minutes another naked bloke reads out my number and says out loud, ‘your turn’ and slaps the marble slab with a pillow.
I laid on my back for a front massage and rolled over for a back massage and he then slapped my back a couple times to signal that the massage was over. He then walked me to a corner of the room for a wash. I sat down and he applied soap via some sort of feather duster device and he washed me head to toe. I thought he asked if I would like my downstairs washed, but when I said I could do it myself, he laughed because that is what he meant. He then got a whole heap of cold water in a bucket and splashed me off and I am done. I walked back to the open area and he applied towels to dry me off and recommended that I wait 10-15 minutes before putting clothes back on because ‘your core body temp is still high’.
Sadly, the whole thing didn’t really float my boat, but it is still an experience. The girls enjoyed it much more than me and while it is expensive, it is still a very Turkish thing to do. I waited for the girls and then we cruised back to the hotel. We caught a taxi to the campervan pick up spot. Our cab driver was awesome, no English but heaps of hand gestures and we got to the drop of point it was a service station. The cabby was not happy with this and rang up the campervan company and arranged for them to meet us at a café up the road. Summer handed over a healthy tip.
The Café owners were gathered out the front and we struck up a conversation with them. They were originally from Gelibolu (Gallipoli) and when we said we were from Australia they got excited and talked to us about the whole area. They even had a 100 year Anzac banner up in the Café. The menu was only in Turkish and they helped us order some delicious dinner and local produce for us to stock up the van. After the van arrived we said our goodbyes to the café staff then we were off.
At first we got a little lost getting out of the area, then we found a camping site that was closed and finally, our first night camping in Turkey was on the side of the main freeway in a truck stop. The girls had been asleep for about three hours and Summer and I fell onto the tiny table-turned-bed at 0100.