Calamari, castles and dead skin

Trip Start Jul 01, 1997
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Trip End Oct 29, 1997


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Thursday, July 10, 1997

Took a long time getting to sleep last night. It was very hot in the tent and very bright. The latter was due to the fact that our tents are pitched near a football pitch and there was a match on. The floodlights lit up the tent and the players and spectators were very noisy. I suppose it is too hot to play during the day.  Then I needed to get out to go to the loo a couple of times due to a mild attack of the runs. This I attribute to the lukewarm food dished up in last night's restaurant, but I may be wrong. I took a couple of immodium as we going on the boat trip and have had no more problems.

When we got up this morning we discovered we had a new member in our merry gang. Gemma works in the Exodus offices and will be accompanying us through Syria and Jordan. I think it's something to do with the numbers needed for a group visa plus it gives her more of an idea of the places she's sending people to. She said she arrived about four in the morning.

Headed into town again and straight to the boat. Luckily the crazy woman wasn't there this time. Cruised down the Bosphorous to Rumeli Higari, an Ottoman fortress built in the fifteenth century. Disembarked and had a wander around the place. On the way there we had passed a smart marina.

Back on the boat we were taken to Beylerbeyi on the opposite side of the Bosphorus. The riverfront area was covered in outdoor restaurants. At one of these I had the best calamari I have ever tasted. It just melted in the mouth.

On our return back to the city we had a quick look around the Egyptian Bazaar and bought some cumin and chilli powder for forthcoming truck meals. We then spent some time just lying on the grass in the park near the Blue Mosque. We had arranged to meet the others in town for dinner, but that was three hours away.

Eventually, Jane, Teresa and I decided we'd go to a hamman. We couldn't persuade the guys to go in so they went off to look at another mosque. Their loss as we had a wonderful experience. The steam room was circular with a dome which let in filtered light through coloured glass pieces. In the centre was a large heated marble slab. When you first enter you take off the cloth we were each given, lay it on the slab and lie down. Soon I was covered in sweat. We had each elected to have a massage. When it is your turn the masseuse, a big beefy woman, taps you to let you know. First she exfoliated our skin. Loads of yucky dead skin came off - travel by overland truck is not the best way to keep your skin smooth. The masseuse didn't seem impressed with amount of exfoliation we needed. After a rinse (she throws a bucket of water over you) she covers you in soap suds and starts a gentle massaging. This got harder as she went along. Eventually she was really pressing so hard that I felt as though all the air was being expelled from my lungs. This was followed by a chopping motion on my back. After rinsing me down again she took me to the side of the room where she sat me down and washed my hair. All in all it was a fantastic experience. Once my turn was over I lay on the warm marble and looked up at the colours of the dome just vegging out. We were in there about ninety minutes. Highly recommended.

Felt great as we emerged - energised. Once we'd met up with everyone else we headed off to the restaurant. Euan had said he'd take us to one with belly dancing. However, when we got there we discovered it had changed a little and there was no dancing. Instead there was turkish music playing and tables around the edge and two women sat in the middle making pancakes. The portions were rather small. As it sold no alcohol, we moved on to a bar where I had my first raki of the trip. Didn't stay there too long as we're off again tomorrow.
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