"Hey Lady!"

Trip Start Oct 25, 2010
Trip End Jan 01, 2011

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Monday, November 15, 2010

After wondering a couple streets of Istanbul I am starting to feel like my name might actually be "Hey lady!"  Istanbul has been an adventure... pretty overwhelming actually... so overwhelming I chose to take a break from the crowds and isolate myself to read, write, organize pictures and plan my next big adventure.

Boy do I have some stories to tell!

Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is like the Pike Place Market on steroids 1,000 times over.  Maybe 100,000 times over!  It is intensely crowded and extremely easy to get completely lost in the maze of shop after shop.  All the shops look alike.  The market is filled with energy, yelling, shoppers, bargaining and a gigantic assortment of goods.  You can buy designer jeans, god awful jewelry, silk scarfs, lamps and a million other things.  Instead of using the 'hey lady' approach one vendor even said "wanna buy something you don't need?"  I said "no Thank you," but he did catch my attention.

Designer jeans... what American girl doesn't want a new pair of Sevens, Missy Me's or True Religion jeans (even if they aren't real)?  I'm as much of a sucker as the next woman.  Especially because my one pair of jeans have not been washed in two weeks and in the meantime have been warn on several hikes, horseback riding, a number of buses and on what feels like have sat on every coffee shop stool in Groeme and Istanbul, while seeking out the best coffee in town.  Needless to say they stink, are stretched out and might be able to walk on their own at this point.  YES... Get to the point.  A designer jean vendor saw my second glance at a cute pair of True Religion jeans.  I simply glanced and quickly regretted it.  I knew I did not want to carry anymore weight in my pack and that probably finding a laundry machine should be a high priority on my sight seeing list.

This vendor started out sweet.  "You like these jeans?"  "Try them on!"  I said "No Thank You, maybe later!"  and quickly realized I forgot to say "No Gracias" like Chas recommended.  These vendors target Americans for sure!  He follows up with something about his grandmother coming  by later or something... and I smile and keep walking.  Then I get "She looks better in these jeans then you would?"  OUCH!  Instead of taking it personally I blamed it on my stretched out, smelly designer jeans that were not doing their job!

Sunrise Sunday Run - 'Crazy American Lady'
Before I left I had done my research!  I looked up running in Istanbul and found a plethora of running loops and tips for female runners.  The only tip was not to show too much skin or wear tight fitting clothing... 'NOT' that there are NO women runners in Istanbul.

Certain I have done nothing but eat large amounts of Greek and Turkish food with little physical activity and uncertain about running on the streets of busy Istanbul I knew I had a decision to make.  Instead of erroring on the side of a belly roll and bootie expansion, I chose public embarrassment, uncertainty and my health.  So I ventured out early on Sunday... maybe before the crowds, cars and buses and on a planned route along the water. 

Within minutes of leaving the hostel I was greeted with a sour faced look from one passer-byer and giggles from the next.  This pretty much continued for he entire 50 minute run.  I'm still not sure if it's ok for women to run on the streets of Istanbul.

WAIT it gets better... I passed a pair of gigglers on my way out and on my way back one of the gigglers decided to join me for a little jog himself.  Adorned with a heavy sweater, black jeans, big hiking boots and a lit cigarette we ran side by side for 10 minutes.  We tried to communicate but he only spoke Turkish and I only spoke English (and some pretend Spanish).  I didn't get jumped, robbed or attacked and I never really figured out why he decided to run with me.  Maybe he wanted to race?  On several occasion he picked up the pace and sprinted ahead taunting me to sprint with him.  He was even waving his hands like... come on 'lady' lets go... lets race.  At this point I was about 40 minutes in and all I wanted to do was walk but my ego didn't want to get bruised so I kept running but sure as hell was not going to get into a sprinting race.  He would have won and he was still smoking a cigarette!

Does anyone know if there are women runners in Turkey?  Maybe they are all smarter then me and have a secret running spot!  I thought the water front pathway was a good idea.  With a quick google search I found there was a 2010 Istanbul marathon and out of the 800 runners only 130 were women.

Turkish Bath
Where do I begin?  Luxury luxury luxury!  I love me some Turkish Bath!  First you lay on a hot stone table for 40 minutes and rinse regularly with cool water.  This was extremely relaxing and meditative.  What's next is the good part and sorry if I get gitty... but whoa!  I've never been bathed before and although this was strictly professional, I kinda feel in love.  Well that's an exaggeration I really feel in love... not with my masseuse personally but with getting bathed.  Your personal masseuse gives you an exfoliating scrub, has you lay on another hot stone table, bubbles you up and gives you a massage. 

That's the nuts and bolts of it... but good stuff is in the details.

First of all they provide you with a bathing suit top, shorts and sarong.  One size fits all ladies... I was looking hot! hahaha!  The hot stone table is co-ed and there were people from all over the world experiencing their first Turkish Bath together.  When your hotel name is called you go to your masseuse, mine happened to be pretty darn hot, tall dark and Turkish.  He introduced himself but I lost his name immediately.  Can't say this was the most comfortable I have been in my life!  I relaxed though.  You lay on the table and they take this pillow sheet thing and dunk it in bubbly water.  They open the sheet in some special way that produces masses of bubbles they lay on top of your entire body, more then a foot high.  Then they get in there and rub you down, front and back.  It's a massage while being washed.  The final touches were getting my hair washed and my entire body rinsed.

The funny part is... I hate getting my face splashed... I go crazy if I get dunked.  So having water dumped on my face during the rinsing process must have been a pretty damn funny site.  I am sure I squished up my face and held my breath in an uncomfortable fashion to avoid the near drowning feeling I experience when water is put on my face.  Instead of tipping my head back and relaxing, I kinda reacted like a child getting soap in my eyes!  It all ended with a personal rinse which made me much happier, an attendant drying me off and a hot cup of apple tea.

Photography was not permitted in the building so I included the website here.  The building was built in 450. 


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Joni Renee Zalk on

That designer jeans salesman's grandma WISHED she looked like you do now when she was in her twenties.

Erin (Canada) on

Your trip looks amazing...it's nice to see some new places to possibly visit in the distant future. How long is your trek?
Have a great time...I'm sure you are!

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