Trip Start May 19, 2008
7Trip End May 28, 2008
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So we skipped the hotel breakfast, bought some groceries and took the Tunel (subway) down to the Golden Horn (river). Right along the river, next to the Galata Bridge, we ate our feta, bread, tomatoes and cukes and wondered (again) about headscarved women who wear tight jeans and shirts and are openly affectionate with their very modern looking boyfriends.
Then we took the tram across the river and back into Sultanahmet (the old city) for a little shopping and then, to meet Nicole and Hakan at a Hamam (Turkish Bath). What a wild experience.
(these pix are from the web) Once in the door, Hannah and Nicole go one way and Hakan and I go another. (Hannah will have to tell you about their experience).
Even though Hakan goes to hamams regularly, he had never been to this one,
"lobby" were a couple dozen little rooms where you disrobed, wrapped yourself in a towel and locked the door. Then back down into the lobby, where sat men and women sipping tea and fresh squeezed OJ after their baths. We walked through in our towels as
though it were completely comfortable and then were directed to another door, into a little room occupied only by a Brit in a towel who looked more confused than us.
of stone and sweat for awhile.
Anyway, next we go to a another room where he washes my hair and rinses me again. "Everything good?" "No Problem?" "Give service tip." I had heard that tips were definitely expected in the hamam (not true everywhere else), but I had no money on me of course and how would I give him a tip later? I hardly ever saw his face... the one thing I could remember is that he had the exact same moustache as every other attendant.
Out to another room where the towel guy give me one towel for my waist, one over my shoulders and with another he makes a turban (is this just for the tourists?). But then, all toweled up, you're sent back out to the (co-ed) lobby/café, and upstairs to the little room where no amount of towel drying makes you feel really dry. Hannah and Nicole join us back in the lobby/café and we all have a good laugh.
After the scrub was over, she directed me towards one of the faucets where she shampooed my hair quite vigorously while I struggled to keep the shampoo out of my mouth (my nose was stuffed up from my cold, so this was a difficult task).
Finally, she doused me with water and sent me on my way feeling very clean and refreshed. After spending a little more time lying on the marble with Nicole, we went out to meet the guys.
"We" = Hakam and me, with minor participation by Hannah.
(I read later it is very popular with students at nearby Istanbul University).
We weren't entirely sure of our plans for the rest of the day, but we started walking towards the Grand Bazaar to see what that was all about. When we reached it, we entered in what was clearly the clothing section and started through it, expecting to be overwhelmed by what was to come. But a few minutes later, we reached the end a strip and found ourselves back on the street feeling quite confused. What was so Grand about that? Where's all the noise, the hustle and bustle, the endless supply of jewelry, scarves, bread, spices, ceramics, carpets, hats, toys and gold that we were expecting? We asked a man walking by where the Grand Bazaar was, assuming we had just made a wrong turn, at which point he pointed back to where we had come. "That's it?" we asked. "Yes," he said, "but today, closed." Ooooh.
So off we went, deciding to head towards the New Mosque (from Day 3) and on the way, Hannah paid her first visit to one of Istanbul's many public bathrooms, which, in addition to being plentiful and staffed, are also toilet-less (think hole-in-the-ground).
We sat in the courtyard of the mosque and could see the sun setting though the courtyard door.
People came and left, to pray or to visit.
Some others just sat, like us.
Once the sun had set behind the nearby buildings...
On the other end of the bridge, we came upon movie lights, a camera on a boom and a crowd of people pretending to be celebrating after a Turkish soccer vistory. This little movie is fun...
Where I stayed