Turkish bath

Dateline: Istanbul, Day 3 – The Bath

Istanbul, Turkey
24 June 2009

Having walked so much the previous day, Charlie and I decided that today would be a good day to take that boat right up the Bosphorus. After a bit of late start, we walked down to the pier in hopes of finding a boat that would take us on for a decent price. It didn’t take long for a guy to get us interested in a two hour boat cruise. It wasn’t the exact ride we wanted, which would have taken us up to Çamlıbahçe or so, but it was good enough, especially given the amount of time we had. The asking price was 20YTL each; after walking away once, we were able to get him to go for 30YTL for the both of us, and probably could have gone lower.

The ride was decent; I was able to take some great pictures. It would have been nice to have a guide to give some background on what we were looking at, but alas we had no such fortune.

18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/16.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/16.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/16.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

70.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/16.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/16.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

70.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/16.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

70.0 mm || 1/800 || f/14.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

18.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/5.6 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

There wasn’t much to see on the Asian side of Istanbul, so I ended up falling asleep for the hour or so it took to get back.

Charlie and I decided that we were both pretty hungry. Charlie heard a rumor that the fish was pretty good here, so we set out to find something decent. We settled on a bustling fish house of sort right on the water.

18.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

The kitchen, and I use that term very loosely, was little more than a collection of grills on a boat docked to the pier. Ordering meant walking up to a guy right on the edge of the pier, handing over your 3YTL and getting a cooked fish sandwich handed to you. For another 2YTL each, we added two cans of Coca-Cola.

Overall, it was a decent meal, at least up until I starting getting bits of bone in my mouth.

We made our way back to the hostel, getting lost in the Bazaar along the way.

Despite my little cat nap, I was still dog tired when we got back. I spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping, which honestly isn’t such a bad thing to do in the hot Istanbul weather.

After I finally woke up, we spent the evening figuring out what to do in Cappadocia and really the rest of Turkey. Ali, the owner of Mavi Guesthouse1, was very helpful in piecing together this section of our trip. It was going to be a grueling few days, but we assured him we could do it.

The plan was such: leave tomorrow night on an overnight bus to Gorme (which is in the Cappadocia region) and go on an all day tour of the northern region of Cappadocia. Sleep at Shoestring Cave for the night. Wake up and go on another all day tour of the southern region of Cappadocia. Then, catch another overnight bus to Selcuk. Spend a day in Selcuk (i.e. Ephesus), staying overnight at the ANZ Guesthouse, and leaving for Samos, Greece the next morning at 8am via ferry. Talk about a whirlwind tour of Turkey.

Content with our plans, Charlie and I headed off to a Turkish Bath, also known as a hamam, with Nick (one of our roommates).

Let me tell you something about hamam’s: they are utterly amazing and utterly scary. We got changed into single towel and slippers and were ushered into the sauna to sweat it out. There was some talk about crossing legs or not, but we decided that we were all mature males, comfortable with our heterosexuality.

Two older gentlemen2 came to get us out of the sauna. They sat us down on the marble and drenched us in water before rubbing us down with a stiff glove. It actually felt good and I wished they went a bit longer.

Next, we were instructed to lay face up on a marble table. There, they gave us a soap massage, intermixed with sporadic slapping (for effect, I’m sure). It’s pretty much what you would expect, although a bit on the vigorous side. They had clearly done this many times before and were not afraid to go practically all the way up my thigh. To put it bluntly, one slip and this guys thumb was going right up my asshole. Seriously. Not an exciting thought.

I just stared straight ahead, looking at the single bare Philips florecent light bulb illuminating the room.

Philips…Lets Make Things Better

Reveling in our newfound cleanliness, we walked back to the hostel, grabbing some food and baklava on the way.

50.0 mm || 1/25 || f/1.8 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

18.0 mm || 0.8 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

27.0 mm || 0.8 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

  1. the hostel we were staying at 

  2. men, yes; gentle…not so much 

Plans for Russia and Turkey

My friend, Eric Boyd, left this comment on my Facebook wall regarding my trip:

That should be a lot of fun. Watch out for Gypsies though. I’ve heard they like to break into train compartments and rob you blind. But I’m sure in your case they will try to unzip your suitcase and find themselves fighting for their lives against an army of death-ray wielding nanobots;)

They’re actually going to be sporting 1.21 jigawatt lasers, not death-rays.

After talking to Jeff the other week, I called up Mr. Staples (Jeff’s dad) to ask about what travel agency they used. Mr. Staples referred me to Mir Corporation. I took a look at their packages, and they’re quite expensive ($5,000 for 10 days), plus their dates don’t line up with mine. They did, however, have some very useful information on their website.

I’ve received my official invitation, filled out the visa application, and had my visa picture taken last week. Today I sent everything, plus my cover letter and a $131 check in the mail to Dad. Dad will add my passport to the set and drop it off at the Russian Consulate in Downtown Seattle. It will take no less than six days to process it, so here goes nothing.


  • Moscow
    • The Central Museum of Armed Forces1
      70 ruble, or 30 ruble if I get the student discount, plus another 100 ruble so I can take photos
    • Kremlin Armory Museum
      700 ruble, or 200 ruble if I get the student discount
    • Cosmonautics Memorial Museum
    • The Polytechnical Museum at the Ilinsky Gates
    • Moscow State University Zoological Museum
    • Underground Moscow

Useful resources: http://www.moscow.info/

I also talked with my friend, Erin, who’s currently in Turkey. She gave me the low down on what’s what in Turkey.

  • Turkey
    • Istanbul (2 days-ish, Hackett did 4 days)
      • Grand Bizarre
      • Blue Mosque
  • Antalya
  • Ephesus (1 day)
  • Cappadocia (1-2 days)
  • Ankara
    • Capital
    • Turkish Aerospace Industries2

Erin also says I need to :

  • See a Whirling Dervish dance
  • Eat Gözleme and Kanafeh3
  • Read up on Atatürk
  • “Also, when in Turkey, you can’t miss out on a Turkish bath. Its a fairly odd experience at first, but you have to do it!”

Random thought, do I need a phone?

  1. http://www.cmaf.ru/eng/index_eng.htm 

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_AEW&C#Turkey 

  3. Erin says, “kunefe, my favorite dessert…it rhymes with ‘tunafay'”