Bosphorous, Bosphorous, Bosphorous...

Trip Start Sep 21, 2010
Trip End Oct 07, 2010

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Where I stayed
Bereket Appartments

Flag of Turkey  , Istanbul,
Sunday, September 26, 2010

Just when you think you can't sleep in any later on vacation, you wake up with light beaming through the window at noon.  Which, if you stay up until 5:00AM isn't really wasting time.  If we were slow to rise yesterday, today we looked like zombies.  But we rallied with some french press, H20, and advil.  Off to the 3rd pier at the Eminou to catch a Ferry that would tour us around all the famous sites of the mighty Bosphorous, the historic straight that connects Asia and Europe.  

I occasionally throw in tips in the blog.  Snagging a boat ride after a bender in Istanbul might be ill advised for the weak hearted.  But not this crew!  No sea sickness or excessive complaining by anyone!  We ended up using a company called TDI, or something like that.  While waiting for the boat in the blazing sun we were forced to listen to the "salesman" for the boat tours.  Their sales pitch consisted of mumbling "Bosphorous, Bosphorous, Bosphorous..." over and over and over...  Not good for a hangover (which we did not have, as we drank Raki, which doesn't create hangovers).  Either way, the boat left promptly and was not too choppy.  

We traveled under several of the large bridges.  The first was the Bosphorous Bridge that was the first bridge to connect Europe and Asia.  It also changes lots of different colors at night.  The other is Fatih Bridge.  The are both huge suspension bridges.  Along the way we passed many palaces, castles, fortresses, and mosques.  The boat makes many stops on the way, and isn't only for sight seeing, but is also for locals to commute around the area.  

We stopped in Anadolu Kavagi a small, and fishing town at the north end of the Bosphorous on the Asian side.  We had grilled sole (fish), deep fried muscles, pide pizza and kabob with yogurt at a small semi-touristy restaurant.  Americans totally under utilize yogurt by the way.  Walking around afterwards we had lokums (donut holes are best comparison) and more Turkish ice cream, minus the Istanbul fanfare.  Then, back on the boat for the long journey home, plus stops.  

We walked near the New Mosque and spice market to a small old shop that specialized in Turkish Delight.  Turkish Delight is best described by the gang as sugar coated gummy bear-like substance with various nuts or other fillings such as pistachios, or fruit, and had flavors such as cinnamon, ginger, mint and lemon.    

Tanya, Carey and I all headed off to Cemberlitas Hemam, or Turkish Bath.  Don't know if I can do this one justice with words.  Our guide book assured us that we would be guided through this process, however I found it a bit confusing.  For the guys, you get two tokens, one for the bath, and one for the oil message (if you pay a bit extra, and I would recommend this).  It should be noted that Cemberlitas was built inthe 1500s and when you walk in, it is almost entirely made of marble.  I headed upstairs and was instructed to "change" and handed a small Pestemal (a very thin towel).  Then, I was pointed downstairs and headed into a huge, humid, and hot marble room with several men, and a large dodecagon (12 sided, I think) marble structure in the center.  I stood there for a while next to a German fellow, and wondered if I was doing everything right.  I had trouble telling the locals from the staff as we were all wearing the same outfit.  Eventually I was directed to lay down on the dodecagon.  I might have mentioned that I had a long night the evening prior and was bit dehydrated.  So waiting was pretty brutal, and then it seems there was a bit of mix up as it seemed everyone was getting "bathed" before me.  After about 30 minutes of laying on the marble slab with a small silver plate as a pillow, I was positioned near the edge in preparation for the bath.  It only lasted about 5-10 minutes, but I was scrubbed from head to toe (quite literally) with a small cloth that I was issued upon entry.  It really did make it worth it for the wait.  Suds EVERYWHERE.  Then my bather splashed several buckets of cool water on me and led me to another room where my hair was washed.  At this point  I was trying to keep my eyes, and mouth as closed tight as possible while the suds were threatening to enter anywhere they could.  More buckets of water were splashed in my face and on my head before I was moved to the massage room.  I received a fairly routine, but very relaxing massage.  During the massage several pressure points had intense amounts of pressure applied to them, reminding me of a Thai message.  When done with the massage, I was guided to the shower. 

This was a great ending to the night as we trammed back to the Galata Tower and to our apartments for a solid nights rest.  Tomorrow we will sight see for a bit, and then drive to Pamuakale to see Roman ruins and an ancient bathing pool.   
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