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TO BATHE OR NOT TO BATHE—TURKISH STYLE

August 6th, 2010 2 comments

The haman (Turkish bath) is a Roman tradition, and an experience not to be missed.

The room in which I experienced my first haman at Yacht Classic in Fethiye was entirely marble and circular shaped.  In the center of the room was a large  marble platform on which you lie for this most unusual bathing experience.  Around the circumference of the room was a low bench with beautiful urns spaced at intervals.  Above each urn were faucets, from which both hot and cold water could fill the urns.  The urns had no drains, simply overflowing onto the floor where the water was captured by a drain that surrounded the marble platform.

I have often wondered, as we visited ancient sites, about the existence of many Roman baths.  Having experienced the haman, I have a new appreciation for how “civilized” the cultures were that spawned it.  As in the saying “cleanliness is next to Godliness”, this bathing is a ritual as much as a cleansing.

The ritual bathing can be performed individually at one of the urns or you can be bathed by an attendant—the latter being a very handsome young Turkish man—the equivalent of a massage therapist in the U.S.  Not one to spare any luxury, and not really knowing what the ritual bath entailed, I opted for the young Turk.

As is customary with a massage, you are naked, except for a fringed length of cloth draped in an appropriate way to maintain modesty.  My attendant had a similar length of cloth wrapped around his waist.

The ritual bathing has several steps.  First you lie on the warm marble platform for about 15 minutes as your pores open from the heat of the room—think sauna but with wet heat instead of dry.  This is not a steam bath, just a gentle wet heat that permeates the room.

The next step they call  “peeling”.  I thought that sounded pretty scary, but it is actually quite enjoyable.  Your entire body is gently exfoliated with a loofa mit that is tied on the attendant’s hand.  The idea is to remove dead skin that is not touched by conventional bathing.  After being thoroughly scrubbed, pans of warm water from an urn are poured over you from head to toe.  Another aspect of the ritual is that water is never allowed to sit and is constantly running and therefore fresh.

Once the peeling was complete there is a “foam bath”. The experience was divine.  Taking a large hammered metal urn filled with water and a special soap, the attendant dipped a towel up and down in the urn creating mounds and mounds of foam which he then covered me with as I was lying face down on the platform.  This is the ultimate bubble bath—all bubbles and no water.  Once covered with foam there is a gentle scrubbing massage—need I say more?  Mind you this was all done while appropriately draped in my now very wet body cloth. 

After the foam was washed away by more dousing of water as I lay like a dead fish on this marble platform, I was led to a seat next to one of the urns where my hair was shampooed and conditioned.  At this point, I feel like a baby being tended to by its mother—I am so relaxed, I feel catatonic.

After my shampoo and scalp massage, I am wrapped in dry towels and led to a lounge chair in a small garden-like room to air dry.  Ten minutes later, I am ready for the final step in my ritual bath—the oil massage.

This takes place in a quiet, dimly lit massage room as soft music played in the background.  Thirty minutes later, my ritual bathing complete, I return to the dressing room much cleaner and very happy.  I feel like my soul has been scrubbed as well.

I was told by one of the attendants that this haman is more “spa-like” than some more traditional hamans. but that the ritual bathing is authentic. Unfortunately, I couldn’t convince Kent to try it—he has this “thing” about a man massaging his body.  Oh well, his loss.

Haman can be taken alone or in couples, and is traditional for some occasions such as bridal parties.

Sorry, no pictures this time—but you can Google “Turkish bath” or “haman” for more details.  If you ever have the opportunity, don’t miss this experience.

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SLEEPLESS IN SKOPEA

August 4th, 2010 No comments

Turkey is VERY HOT this time of year!

Skopea Limani is like a large inland lake

Skopea Limani is like a large inland lake

We New Englanders are so accustomed to July and August being “the boating season” that it was laughable to us that Brits and other Europeans went home for these two months and returned in September.

We are in the midst of a heat wave that has left us waterlogged and sleepy. Waterlogged because the only relief from the 90 to 105 F. degree temps during the day is to frequently jump in the water for a swim—rotating bathing suits, one barely dries before you put it back on, and there is always a wet one hanging on the line. We have found that racing about in the dinghy is one way to cool off—but like running the A/C we’re still burning fuel.

I'm sure they aren't worried about the heat

I'm sure they aren't worried about the heat

. . .but a wind scoop is our only air conditioning at anchor!

. . .but a wind scoop is our only air conditioning at anchor!

And sleeping is impossible. Even after the sun sets, there is little change in the temperature and at anchor in Skopea Limani which has the appearance of an inland lake surrounded by verdant green mountains and a chain of small islands there is not a breath of air.

Sunset but no sleep

Sunset but no sleep

Kent slept in the cockpit all night hoping to catch a breeze that never arrived while I stayed in the master cabin with a 12V fan blowing on me. At 6:30 a.m., with the generator charging batteries for the day Kent turned on the A/C in the aft cabin and we both slept for a couple of hours before starting another torturously hot day.

Today we head to Fethiye and Yacht Classic Hotel—where there is a dock, power and a swimming pool. After a couple nights of sleep in air conditioned comfort we’ll decide whether to head further east (reportedly hotter) or back west where it is a few degrees cooler. At this point the difference between 30 C and 41 C seems huge–that’s 86 F  v. 105 F.  In the meantime, the scenery and anchorages are beautiful, and the water is warm—almost too warm to be refreshing.

Life is good—if only we can get some sleep.

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JOLIE’S WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

August 3rd, 2010 1 comment

Here in Turkey we are often anchored with Destiny’s stern tied to shore and “taking a walk” has new meaning for our four-legged crew member. 

But, I don't want to go for a walk. . .

But, I don't want to go for a walk. . .

I'm a Coton de Tulear, not a mountain goat!

I'm a Coton de Tulear, not a mountain goat!

You want me to go on a rock, you've got to be kidding!

You want me to go on a rock, you've got to be kidding!

Thank goodness that is over. . .

Thank goodness that is over. . .

now the dinghy ride, yeh!

now the dinghy ride, yeh!

Faster, faster!!!

Faster, faster!!!

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UP A LAZY RIVER AND INTO THE PAST

August 2nd, 2010 No comments

Just east of Marmaris lies the Dalyan River, once the site of the ancient Carian city of Caunos.  The harbor at Caunos, once a thriving port, is now silted in and surrounded by marshy grasslands.

Approaching the river from Ekincik where we had anchored Destiny there is a small island and a barrier beach.  The bar that runs from the beach to shore leaves a narrow passage for shallow draught boats to pass.  Off the island, large tour boats and some private yachts, anchor with a line to shore and are ferried by the cooperative boats up river.

A long spit of sand nearly blocks the river entrance

A long spit of sand nearly blocks the river entrance

Day trip boats line the river waiting for beach goers as we enter the narrow channel

Day trip boats line the river waiting for beach goers as we enter the narrow channel

To reach Caunos, you charter a boat run by a cooperative that is licensed to provide tours up the Dalyan River.  Our new friends Dave and Lindsay on S/V Rosa di Venti had made the arrangements and invited us to join them.

We're on our way up the Dalyan River. . .

We're on our way up the Dalyan River. . .

with new Brit friends, Dave & Lindsay

with new Brit friends, Dave & Lindsay

Kent would have preferred to take the dinghy, but was dissuaded by the fact that there is a fish trap—in this case one that spans the entire river and requires passage through a manned gate. 

The gate at fish trap keeps unauthorized people out and fish in

The gate at fish trap keeps unauthorized people out and fish in

There is other wild life to see on the river.

Turtles and. . .

Turtles and. . .

blue crabs (just like in Maryland where Kent grew up) inhabit the river.

blue crabs (just like in Maryland where Kent grew up) inhabit the river.

Once on the river, we realized what folly that would have been in any event since the river meanders maze-like through tall grass.  Within minutes we were totally disoriented and glad that we had an experienced boat man to guide us to our destination. 

The river is a maze of grassy channels

The river is a maze of grassy channels

Our first stop on the river tour was Caunos, a short walk from the river.  While the ruins of the city are not as dramatic as some we have seen, the setting along the river with steep cliffs in the background and the remnants of a fort are impressive.

Caunos Amphitheater

Caunos Amphitheater

Foundation of a Temple overlooking Ancient Caunos Harbor

Foundation of a Temple overlooking Ancient Caunos Harbor

Remnants of a Roman Bath

Remnants of a Roman Bath

Caunos is slowly being reconstructed into an archeological park and signs of the restoration are everywhere.

Restoration work underway

Restoration work underway

Some parts of this ancient city’s past are much the same, while other aspects can never be reconstructed.

Footpath through time virtually the same. . .

Footpath through time virtually the same. . .

 

but the Ancient harbor has been claimed by silt and grasses

but the Ancient harbor has been claimed by silt and grasses

 There are ruins that span a large area, but the main sites can be seen in a little more than an hour—since the mid-day heat was oppressive we were glad to return to the boat, where Jolie had found a nice spot in the shade. 

Jolie found her favorite wedge spot under a seat

Jolie found her favorite wedge spot under a seat

Our next stop was lunch in Dalyan just across the river from one of the most photographed sites in Turkey—the rock tombs on the cliffs of the Dalyan River. 

The tombs are visible from the river

The tombs are visible from the river

The tombs are thought to be of Lycian origin.  Having seen pictures of the tombs in guide books, I had some notion of what to expect, but what is lost in the pictures is the size of the tombs and the sheer rock cliffs into which they are carved.

Lycian Tombs. . .

Lycian Tombs. . .

and more tombs!

and more tombs!

I took picture after picture hoping to capture their majesty, but pictures can’t match the experience of seeing them in person.

 

The scale is hard to capture

The scale is hard to capture. . .

but the intricate detail carved into the face of the cliff is not.

but the intricate detail carved into the face of the cliff is not.

The boat traffic on the river gets downright crazy late in the afternoon, as boats leave the river to return people to their starting point at the mouth of the river at the same time that boats from up river are returning beach goers to the many hotels that line the river.

 

The river is filled with boats carrying people to see the tombs and to the beach

The river is filled with boats carrying people to see the tombs and to the beach

We had one final stop on our lazy river adventure.  The mud baths.  Yes, mud baths.  There are hot springs adjacent to the river with clay deposits that are reputedly therapeutic.  

Up river from the town of Dalyan are mud baths

Up river from the town of Dalyan are mud baths

Kent was happy in the hot springs. . .

Kent was happy in the hot springs. . .

while Dave and Carol got down and dirty.

while Dave and Carol got down and dirty.

I don't care if it is therapeutic. . .enough mud!

I don't care if it is therapeutic. . .enough mud!

We watched with some amusement as these parents and teenage children gently covered one another with mud. . .they didn’t miss an exposed inch, including Dad’s bald head.

They got their monies worth

They got their monies worth

Leaving the river we had a very rolly ride back to our anchorage, but it was a wonderful day filled with memorable sights.

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