Planet View: N37°2.357’ E27°25.614’
Street View: N37°2.357’ E27°25.614’
Another bus, another post… We’re on our way to Selcuk to see the ruins at Ephesus at the moment, so a little more downtime to write about our two nights in Bodrum. Bodrum is located on the Aegean Sea northwest along the coast from Fethiye, the main drag runs along two moon-shaped harbors filled with multi-million dollar Turkish yachts. It reminded me a little of the harbors in Nassau, except here the boats are almost exclusively wooden while the mega-yachts in the Caribbean are made from sleek fiberglass. In-between Bodrum’s main harbor is the main archaeological attraction: a medieval castle perched at the end of a spit that was supposedly the most impenetrable stronghold in the Mediterranean in its time (how it was conquered in the fifteenth century is a little confusing, though!). As well as being an attraction in itself, the castle holds the world’s most extensive underwater archeological museum. The waters around Bodrum hold some of the world’s most well preserved and extensive wrecks, all are closed to public diving in the interest of archaeology but the tour booklet we received at the museum stated that the government is considering allowing access to a limited number in the interest of tourism. The main attraction of the museum is the display of an excavated boat from the 14th century BC, the condition of the artifacts were astounding. The trade routes between Egypt, Africa and the Mediterranean civilizations meant the boat had a wide array of cargo from three continents, from simple amphoras used for transporting wine and oil to intricate Egyptian scrolls and cosmetics. Really an interesting exhibit.
We thought about exploring some of the beaches surrounding Bodrum in the afternoon, but it was a little cooler yesterday and mostly overcast so we decided instead to do something that was recommended to us by a number of people: take a Turkish bath. There are two main hamams in the area of Bodrum in which we stayed, Lisa was (understandably) not so keen on visiting the one that required separate bathing so we ventured to Bardakci Hamam for our experience because it allows mixed bathing. Bardakci is the oldest hamam in Bodrum, constructed in 1749 and in operation ever since. It was quite an experience, so I’m going to go into some detail here so we don’t forget it… We were escorted into a small changing room and each given a pestemal (a small cloth shown here on me) to change into. Lisa was asked to wear a bathing suit under hers while I was told to completely nude-up for my experience. We were escorted into the marble camekan (a domed steam room), in the center of which was a large square marble slab about half a meter tall about three meters on either side (a meter is about three feet, Brooke). The slab was heated in the center, where it was excruciatingly hot, and then cooled-off slightly toward the edge. Even toward the edge, though, it was almost too hot to touch, we had to ease ourselves into lying on it over the space of a few minutes. The steam room was very hot and extremely humid, both of us were dripping with a mix of sweat and water within a few minutes but after 10 or so we got used to the environment and started to relax as our pores opened. About 20 minutes into the experience our masseuses entered and started their work. The first portion of the bath involves being rubbed with an abrasive glove which has the texture of a fine grit sandpaper, the glove removed any trace of dead skin from our body. We were both amazed at just how much dead skin was sticking to us after being sandpapered for 10 or 15 minutes (the amount of skin was actually quite gross!). We were then rinsed of dead skin with cold water while sitting on the marble slab, only to lay back down on the superheated rock again for the cleaning portion. Our masseuses (by now dripping with sweat themselves) used a cloth bag dipped in soapy water to lather us each in a cocoon of soap bubbles, probably the most silky smooth soap I’ve ever felt. Once lathered we were cleaned with more vigor that I thought possible, for a good 20 to 25 minutes we were lathered and rubbed all over while laying on the marble slab. Lisa’s masseuse was a little more reserved than mine (I think because she’s female) but mine cleaned everything. I mean everything. He even cleaned up my nose, in my ears, in- between my toes. And remember this whole time I’m nude with my boys out for the world to see. Before being escorted out of the steam room we also had our hair (and my beard) washed vigorously, Lisa’s hair ended up in a large blonde dreadlock by the time she was done! Once clean (and by now we are really clean) we were wrapped in towels and escorted from the steam room to cool off outside. This also gave the masseuses a chance to cool off and relax a little, the amount of effort they put into the experience was amazing, they have some seriously strong hands and forearms. At this point I was so relaxed I actually fell asleep for a few seconds in my chair, while Lisa was the complete opposite, exhilarated and very awake. The final part of our bath involved an oil massage, Lisa’s from a woman this time, with aromatic oils for about 20 minutes. The whole experience took about an hour and a half, we’re glad we decided to do it, something neither of us will ever forget!
The one unfortunate aspect of Bodrum is the influx of British package holidaymakers the town receives. The strength of the British pound results in everything being between double and triple the price we’ve experienced elsewhere in Turkey (and even elsewhere we’ve still stuck to relatively touristy spots). In addition, the restaurants cater to the much blander British taste bud: instead of spicy rice, fired onions and peppers, and a salad of pickled cabbage with dill and tomatoes to accompany our food we instead received plain white rice, unseasoned meat and French fries! While the food we ate in Bodrum was still good it was a far cry from the scrumptious fare to which we’ve become accustomed elsewhere on our trip. Otherwise, the town was a great spot, another picturesque stop on our way up the coast, and we’ll never forget that hamam!
This entry was posted on Monday, April 20th, 2009 at 7:30 AM and is filed under Turkey. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.