Old Jun 15, 08, 2:08 pm
  #20  
Flying Buccaneer
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: TPA
Programs: DL Plat, AA Plat 2MM, HH Diamond, WoH Explorist, SPG Gold
Posts: 2,199
Today was my last full day in Antalya, and I decided to take it easy. While there are fascinating archaeological sites and other natural features within 100 km of Antalya (including the Chimaera, something I have wanted to see for years), I decided that this was my dead period before work began. Many of the days in the CIEE program start before 8 a.m. and end late at night.

What better way to take it easy than go to a hamam? A little after noon, I caught the tram into the Old City and went to Sefa Hamam. It was recommended by AntalyaLiving.com, as well as Lonely Planet. It's not far from Hadrian's Gate, which is one of the tram stops, so it was very easy to get to.

When I got to the hamam, I was welcomed and shown the menu:

Turkish Bath ...........13 YTL
Peiling (Kese) ..........5 YTL
Soap Massage ..........6 YTL

TOTAL ...................23 YTL
Extra Oil Massage ...13 YTL

KOMPLE TOTAL .......35 YTL

I chose the "Komple" and was shown to a little cabin where I was instructed (by hand signals) to undress and wrap a towel around my waist. When I did, the same clerk locked the door, gave me the key, and told me to follow another man downstairs. This man took me into a room with a low entry (about 5 feet high) and then into another room with an even lower entry. I am a little over 6'4", so it was slow going. This room had a high dome above a marble platform, and it was hot (at least 100 deg F) and humid, but not quite a steam room. The man told me to lie down on the platform and left me for about 10 minutes. Lying there looking up at the light coming in from outside was relaxing.

After I had worked up a good sweat, the first man came in and led me into the room I had come through to get there. He instructed me to lie face down on a marble bench that was flush against the wall. It was barely long and wide enough for me. I felt him pour cold water on me, then warm water, then warmer water. And then he started to scrub me with a rough mitt; this was the "peiling" or peeling. Then he doused me with warm water and I heard him doing something with water. All of a sudden, I felt myself covered with warm suds, which he "massaged" all over me. I put massaged in quotes, because he alternatively rubbed, hit, and slapped me, working around the towel that was wrapped around my midsection. Then he poured warm water all over me, repeatedly, until he was satisfied that the soap was gone. He repeated the process on the front, and then instructed me to sit between the bench and a basin. He washed my hair and poured water on me over, and over, and over.

Next came the cool down period. He wrapped me in three towels and said "reception, wait," so I went upstairs. The other man (the one who had led me to the dome room) made me a glass of hot apple tea. The man who bathed me (it feels weird to write that, considering that no one has bathed me in over 40 years!) asked me in choppy English where I was from. I said "America... Florida." He said, "I love California!" Then he asked how I like Antalya, and I told him I like it very much. He said, "Too hot!" I almost said "So is Florida," but I realized he thought I was from California!

After I finished the tea, he led me to a massage room. I get a massage a month from an outstanding massage therapist. This massage, like the bath, was more rubbing, slapping, and hitting. A little over and hour after I walked in, I paid, said goodbye, and walked out. And even though my description might not make you want to go to a hamam, I did feel better when I left than I did when I went in. Besides, it's something you have to experience. I plan to go to another one, time permitting, in Ankara and/or Istanbul to compare the experiences.

At 2:00 p.m., my stomach was crying for lunch, but I took a wrong turn somewhere and was disoriented. I was on Ataturk Caddesi, but a part I had never seen. I saw a Starbucks! I collect Starbucks mugs, so I walked in and was shocked to see Antalya mugs. I bought one, walked a little farther south and then headed back up the street. I finally stopped for a vegetarian pide and salad. On the way back to the tram, I picked up some baklava for a snack.

When I got to the hotel, I decided it was time to check out the pool. The pool area is well-kept. They close the pool at 8:00 p.m., so the water had better be clean. There are actually three pools that are contiguous but not connected. I walked around the pools three times before I settled upon a chaise. At least half of the chaises had towels on them. I figured out later that these were towels that belonged to people who had left, maybe hours earlier. OK, maybe the pool area is not that well kept. But the area is peaceful, the grounds are beautifully landscaped with pines, palms, magnolias, jasmine, and other flowering trees. And the water temperature (30 deg C) was almost exactly the same as the air temp.

After a shower and a few emails, I went back to the Old Town for one final time. As I was walking down one of the pedestrian streets east of Kale Kapisi, a man stepped in front of me and invited me to sit at one of the tables his restaurant had set up outside. The table was full, so I said "But there's already somebody there!" He started laughing, and pointed to another table and said "Then sit here!" The temperature had cooled a few degrees, it was shaded, and he had a sense of humor. How could I say no? I'm glad I didn't. The portions were huge, and the food was delicious. They even brought out a huge puffy hot "loaf" of bread, something like a huge piece of pita or a huge baked sopapilla without sugar. It was more food than even I could eat, and it came to 16.50 YTL. After a final ice cream in Antalya, I boarded the tram and came back to the hotel.

I've grown comfortable in Antalya, so I guess it's a good thing I am leaving for Ankara tomorrow. Would I come back? Definitely! In fact, I would love to spend a week here, or even more, so that I could do a few day trips to places like Perge, Side, Termessos, Olympos, and the Chimaera. And I would not hesitate to stay at the Sheraton Voyager again. I never saw the no outside food/drink policy enforced. I remember reading on TripAdvisor about how mediocre and expensive the food at the hotel is. I can't understand why anyone would eat at this hotel, or any other big hotel, when they are staying in a place like Antalya. Apparently, some of those people never left the grounds. As nice as the property is, there's no excuse for not taking advantage of the hospitality and delicious food that's just a 30-minute walk, or 1 YTL/12 minute tram ride, or 6 YTL/5 minute taxi ride away.

Time for bed soon, and up early for my taxi ride to the airport.
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