Posts from the ‘Turkey’ Category
Several months ago Brunette and her enjoyably much maligned husband, Blonde’s brother-in-law, bought a condo in San Marco, Florida. This would provide a place where Brunette could go to escape Pennsylvania winters and her husband. (He was only informed of the first part of that value proposition.)
After spending two weeks there with his bride the hubby/b-i-l had flown home the previous day to return to work. Blonde was on the first flight to Florida the following morning.
Brunette has long liked Florida and Blonde has not. Brunette likes the weather and the water and Blonde says you can get those perks in places that aren’t so full of old geezers. But now that she has a free place to stay, Blonde’s opinion of Florida had been improving as temperatures dropped in Boston.
Upon arriving at the gate at Logan airport in Boston Blonde suddenly felt like a teenager- and not an old teenager either- we’re talking 15 max!. Everyone was (or so it was important to believe) significantly older and covered the full range of options between good-for-their-age to advanced, visible decay. From full mental competency to crabby to unreasonable to daft. Hearing abilities also ran the gamut of possibilities as, apparently, did male bladder control.
One of the advantages of having a blog, other than overnight wealth and fame, is that things that previously would have merely been annoying are now seen as golden nuggets of blog material. The trip to Florida wasn’t a nugget – it was more like a boulder.
As Blonde got to the gate area prior to the flight she made her customary trip to the ladies’ room. In front of the entrance a man and his wife stood with a cute, small dog wearing a vest with a patch that read “service animal”. Blonde never saw a service animal of this breed or size much less with people who didn’t appear to be blind or in other obvious need of animal services. Whatever.
Upon exiting the ladies room Blonde observed someone else patting the dog ( a horrifying breach of service animal protocol) and inquiring as to the services offered by the canine helper. The man explained that the dog calms him.
WTF?? Why does he need the dog and a wife? How about some pharmaceuticals? How anxious is this old bugger? How does the dog feel about his job?
The inquiring patting stranger exits and the wife makes a very mild comment to the effect that perhaps she, hubby and doggy move somewhere out of the way of the entrance to the ladies’ room. The man’s face becomes instantly stormy and he barks (get it, he barks, not the dog, never mind) “trigger words” and begins to furiously pat the dog as it presumably exerts its calming influence and Blonde briskly walks away.
New players. A very well dressed, tall, elderly man- probably pushing 80 with a very short stick – and his equally chic wife walk into the waiting area. As they walk past Blonde she hears a loud meow from one of the carriers the man is carrying. He has two cats, each in its own carrier and informs Blonde that one is his and the other belongs to his wife. Good to know.
This man is a Boston type – someone who was probably an executive at some investment house for many years and never had to consider the possibility that he wouldn’t get what he wanted when he wanted it. He now informs his wife that they will board the flight. Boarding hasn’t begun but he tells his wife (loudly) that they will be able to board now as they have cats.
The agent boarding the flight disabuses the man of this belief and says he has to wait his turn as the approximately 70% of the flight boarding in wheelchairs gets priority over the cats.
The wheelchair parade commences. Cat Man gets in line with the wheelchairs only to be denied boarding once again. He is now exasperated, loud and petulant and very much in the needs of the calming canine who is nowhere to be seen. Is this Noah’s Ark for the wacky or what? (Yes, it is, will save you the suspense.)
Boarding, not surprisingly takes forever as everyone wheels, dodders and bumbles to their seats. Blonde is in the bulkhead exit row on the aisle. When she enters there is already a woman in the window seat. The woman has a large paper grocery bag on the floor in front of her. It has an orange and yellowish shiny bag on the top of its contents.
Nothing can be on the floor in this row during takeoff and landing as one of the flight attendants informs the woman who responds that she has permission. The flight attendant looks highly skeptical but is quickly informed by a presumably more senior attendant not to mess with the situation. The bag owner tells the recently appeared middle seat woman that this bag contains a supply of Reese’s Pieces and, therefore, cannot be moved. Well that makes perfect sense as Blonde’s iPad is forced into solitary confinement for take off due to the flight risk it represents as compared to say, 10 pounds of Reese’s Pieces.
Takeoff finally commences, the cats turn out to be in the row behind Blonde and begin to meow with an intensity that sounds like Chris Christy stepped on their tails with his full weight. Middle seat lady, who is reading The New Yorker, announces loudly that the cats will meow for the duration of the trip. She is very afraid of cats. Many people who travel are allergic to cats and airplanes should set up “dander-free zones” for airborne animals.
Reese’s Pieces lady indicates solidarity re the dander-free zone and deftly changes the subject to the recent widening of a road in Florida. The way things are going this actually seems to make sense to Blonde. Then Reese’s Pieces Lady announces “and they even put a sign on it”!
New Yorker Lady proclaims no awareness of said highway or what is meant by the sign comment. She is informed that signs are routinely absent on roads in Florida so this is an inside joke of sorts. New Yorker Lady appears to be uninterested, bordering on scornful, and states that she packs her car and ships it to Florida. This also appears to be seen as a valid conversational segue as well as a declaration of superior social standing.
As the plane gains altitude and passengers are still required to be buckled in their seats three old codgers, each in direct defiance of the orders, lurches to the bathroom. And each one presses a hand on his presumably enlarged prostate region and announces “I gotta go” while ignoring the crew’s protestations.
Blonde wants to start selling FloMax to the male passengers. Countless television commercials have assured Blonde that FloMax will improve the gentlemen’s “streams”, making them less frequent and more productive when they do occur. Alas, Blonde lacks a stash of FloMax so this potentially lucrative scheme can not be implemented.
Yet another elderly man very loudly asks the flight attendant how to watch the TV in the back of the seat in front of him. Upon being informed that he may use his own headphones or purchase some for $2 he becomes belligerent over the stupidity of this requirement. He bellows that he has a hearing aid (then turn the damned thing on and quit screaming!) so how can he put headphones in his ears too?!
This particular flight attendant appeared to be in training and hadn’t had the hearing aids versus headphones dilemma covered yet in his studies. He tries to console the man by explaining that the headphones go over, not in, your ears. The man then states that this is not relevant as his hearing aids are attached to the back of his glasses and are not in his ears. Huh? What was this entire issue about then? Wife shushes man and flight attendant admirably maintains composure while scurrying away.
Blonde’s astounding ability to sleep through anything while airborne mercifully kicks in although random boisterous snippets of disconnected conversations occasionally disturb her slumber.
The flight is smooth and aeronautically uneventful on a day with clear skies. As the plane lands the passengers erupt in prolonged and forceful clapping as if the pilot has miraculously guided us through a hailstorm of enemy fire as lightning and wind violently attacked the plane.
Blonde exits and, as per instructions on a voice mail message, calls to let the driver from the car service know that she has arrived. His phone is off so she places a message and also texts him the requested information then stands at the curb to await his arrival.
Minutes later a youngish man driving a Cadillac pulls up, gets out and with a strong Russian accent asks if Blonde is someone whose name seems to be “Graham”. She is not. The man does not believe this as “Graham” is purportedly wearing a pink T-shirt as Blonde is (not). Blonde attempts to make the distinction between purple and pink as if this is the real issue but is mercifully rescued when her driver appears.
Blonde settles into her seat and begins to check her email and respond to her legions of admirers (or perhaps it was to send snarky messages to her sister and friends). The driver inquires if Blonde is texting. Rather than bother to differentiate texting from emailing she answers in the affirmative. This results in being aggressively informed that “texting is the stupidest thing ever invented”.
Blonde knows enough about men to realize what this means is that this man doesn’t know how to text. She adroitly changes the subject to other ways people impair their driving (as this seems to be the issue with texting although Blonde clearly isn’t driving). Alcohol is mentioned as another serious risk to driving safety.
The driver proclaims that his “multi-millionaire” brother smokes extensive quantities of marijuana without his driving abilities being compromised. Blonde doubts this. Before she can go into one of the pointless arguments she is easily drawn into Blonde is now informed that “marijuana is like Prohibition. Once “they” figured out how to tax alcohol it was no longer immoral to drink it”. Hence the recent random states legalizing pot for medicinal uses is also purely an outgrowth of wanting more tax revenue.
Blonde (OK, she has been pulled into a pointless argument) says that if marijuana is for medicinal uses she doesn’t think it would be taxed. The driver views Blonde’s position on the topic as idiotic.
Brunette has been texting (so stupid!) Blonde inquiring as to her proximity. Blonde texts back that she is arguing with the driver about charging tax on marijuana purchases. Brunette replies with confusion and alarm as to why her sister is purchasing pot from the driver.
The driver misses the turn to Brunette’s new abode and informs Blonde that she “made him miss the turn” because she distracted him by talking (who started this moronic conversation?).
The clunky old Lincoln Town Car finally arrives and Blonde practically leaps into the arms of startled Brunette who is still puzzling about her sister’s newly acquired marijuana habit and the tax implications of said habit. Blonde feigns cursory interest in the new abode but is only truly interested in the bottle of (taxable, hence moral) wine beckoning to her from the counter.
And so it begins…….
As soon as we saw the theme for this week’s Photo Challenge it didn’t take a nanosecond to know what picture to use!
We were on a sailing trip on a guleta in Turkey and one night our captain decided to scare us as well as my friend and her 4 year old daughter. Apropos of nothing he put on this mask and pulled out a very real gun! Surprise was the least of it! More like near-death experience.
Of course the first person to recover was the 4 year old who immediately wanted to wear the mask. That was one creepy looking beast that moments before had been an adorable little girl.
When Blonde and Brunette showed some alarm at the gun the captain explained that in Turkey (at that time anyway) only people in certain dangerous professions could own guns. The professions were jeweler, shepherd and ship captain!
Makes mores sense than gun policy in the U.S.
We enter travel contests all the time. Some of them are just random luck (our recent trip to Puerto Rico) some are skill (3rd place in Destinations Magazine where we rigged the voting and won a $30 prize). But this is a biggee! We want to win a prize worth $25,000 – a trip to South Korea (hope it isn’t one way if the wackball in the North acts up). It’s business class air, a snorkel trip and other opportunities for us to disgrace ourselves but potentially amuse you.
So, after sorting through 16,000+ photos on the theme of “transportation” we finally narrowed it down to these 12. For your convenience, and because Blonde couldn’t figure out how to make the technology work right, you have the amazing opportunity to see all of the pictures twice before voting! First they’re displayed as thumbnails (not real “thumbnails” but small pictures) then in a larger size. At the bottom of this page is the poll.
Please help us decide and vote for your three favorites! Oh, and by the way, we have to enter by the end of day in the U.S. on December 19!
And then once we enter you know we’ll beg you to vote for our contest entry too but one thing at a time!
The voting is the whole way at the bottom of the post (sorry, technology isn’t friendly right now).
This is the first of a sporadic series of posts highlighting places we’ve been to and found to be especially memorable and enjoyable. Whenever either of us is asked where’s the most interesting place we’ve traveled we answer “Cappadocia”. If you aren’t familiar with it Cappadocia is a region in Turkey. (It is also a region in Turkey if you are familiar with it come to think of it.)
Blonde was planning the Turkey trip and Brunette immediately piped up that we definitely had to go to Cappadocia. Blonde had never even heard of it but quickly realized that going to Cappadocia wasn’t “on the way” to anywhere and would add time and cost. But it sounded fascinating and Blonde was a high-roller at the time (at least she was working for a living) so off we went.
There are a number of ways, all inconvenient, to get to Cappadocia. We flew to Kayseri where we were picked up by a van and then seemingly kidnapped. The countryside was dark, the roads winding and the driver quite possibly lost. Although it should have only been about 80km from the airport to where we were staying it took a couple hours to get there. But we did get there (possibly the driver called in a ransom for us and realized that we weren’t worth kidnapping).
We had arranged to rent a little restored home in Uçhisa for our stay and it was cold and pitch black when we arrived. The house (more of a housette) didn’t have central heating, a microwave, TV or even a hair dryer (quelle horreur ) which officially qualified it as being a primitive location. However, on rising the next morning all was forgiven. Brunette got up first and looked out the kitchen window at a bright, sunny day and saw colorful hot-air balloons floating over what looked like a lunar landscape.
Outside the front door was an old Muslim woman wearing a headscarf and with a child, both being pulled in a cart up the cobblestone street by a donkey. That was the first sign of something that fascinated us about Cappadocia – the frequent sense of being in another century. The women all seemed to be working hard – in the fields, taking care of children, making food, and gathering wood to burn. The men all seemed to be sitting in cafes smoking and wearing sports coats or suits that looked like they were 40 years old and which, if inhaled, probably could have instantly given the sniffer lung cancer. The men managed to look very serious at the same time as looking very lazy. The women were unsmiling, and all appeared to be ancient. It boggles the mind to picture the Cappadocia selection for Match.com.
In the window of our kitchen there had been placed a basket containing fresh French bread (a French couple owned the house), feta cheese, eggs, yogurt, coffee and tea and apricot jam. Fortunately, Brunette has the wherewithal to take baskets of food items and turn them into meals and the whole experience was quite pleasant.
So why did we love Cappadocia so much? Not because it was a hotbed of beauty tips or boy toys but because it is unique, uncrowded, not commercialized for the most part and fascinating from a historical and visual perspective. Also its museum is outdoors – no need to stare at exhibits and try not to giggle because we’re giving a dirty or snarky interpretation to everything. You don’t need headphones or have to ponder the artist’s childhood – you just look around. The outdoor museum is Goreme Open-Air Museum. It’s a Unesco World Heritage site and consists of a bunch (archealogically precise term) of rock-cut churches, refectories (dining hall if you have a blank look on your face like we did) and frescoes of early illustrations of Christianity. It was built in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries back when all of the coffee drinking men last went shopping for clothes. There’s a fee of 15 TL to enter. It can get very hot in Cappadocia so go in the morning or late afternoon or you may end up feeling like you’re in an ancient pizza oven.
Another thing that adds to Cappadocia’s lure is its underground cities. There are supposedly more than 40 underground cities although only a couple have been excavated because of a lack of funding to do more. The various theories about the cities mainly describe them as places to endure harsh weather and harsh invaders who were not bringing good news of religious tolerance. They have many levels, entire underground kitchens with underground chimneys, stables where animals were kept, water supplies, basic toilets and satellite TV and free wi-fi. (OK, the last two aren’t true but they at least made you think for a second there.)
Another thing unique to Cappadocia is the “fairy houses” nature has built from the effects of years of wind and rain eroding soft volcanic rock created in the time period from the 4th to 13th century AD. The fairy houses make you feel like you’re a character in a Smurfs cartoon. There are also cave houses that were dug out of the same soft rock and which were homes to people well into the 20th century when most of the residents were “relocated,” although some remain.
It would probably be possible to roam around Cappadocia on your own – if you don’t mind waiting for donkey traffic jams to clear up – but we used a private guide - Suleiman – who drove our pampered Rich World butts around. He was excellent and even took us to his uncle’s cave hotel for dinner where they treated us as honored guests and refused to allow us to pay for our meals (saving us the usual bolting when the bill comes).
If you’re feeling jaded, bored, the need for some history or just in a search of a place you can mention at the next family get-together your obnoxious brother-in-law can’t claim he saw from a cruiseship, then consider Cappadocia – but bring your own date.
This “camel” was formed by the erosion of soft stone from volcanic eruptions that occurred millions of years ago. It appears to be looking across the landscape from its location in central Turkey. Cappadocia has been inhabited since B.C. and has been home for Christians, Jews and Muslims over the centuries. It is a popular tourism region and UNESCO World Heritage site. Cappadocia is a representation of Turkey as much has changed and much remains constant. Turkey is neither entirely European or Asian; entirely modern or old world but always beautiful, unique, fascinating and rich in history.
For the first week of a trip to Turkey B&B privately chartered a gulet to take us sailing in the Aegean and Mediterranean waters. The cost for four passengers, meals, a captain, deck hand and cook was much less than staying in a nice hotel. We were so excited about our scheduled week of sailing you’d think George Clooney had agreed to join us.
As B&B had never been to Turkey before and didn’t speak a word of the language we were giddy with delight to have our good friend Nergis, and her hilariously precocious 4-year-old daughter, Celine, along for the week on the ship. Nergis is from Turkey, an ideal travel companion who’s fun, doesn’t let any merchant or anyone else get away with anything ever and has probably never paid retail in her life. Celine was an uber-smart little language sponge and had been in Turkey for a few weeks prior to our arrival and was already basically fluent in Turkish.
The first day we all got together was in Gocek, the port where we would begin our journey. When we went to lunch we were served rather tepid, unappetizing food. Nergis took a bite, got up and marched into the restaurant’s kitchen like Sherman going through Atlanta. Some loud conversation ensued, Nergis reemerged, our food was taken away and replaced with more desirable morsels.
B&B, two stunned pasty-looking Americans whose idea of complaining in a restaurant is to only leave an 18% tip, asked Nergis what had transpired in the kitchen. She calmly explained (to us, not calmly to them) that she told them they were serving us yesterday’s leftovers, couldn’t get away with that and had to make us decent meals pronto. And they did. B&B were thrilled at Nergis’s ballsy handling of the situation.
Celine was not only a human language sponge but also a behavior sponge who observed her mother carefully. Later that same afternoon Blonde started to enter a gift shop in the port. Celine told Blonde to go into the store and if she wanted to buy something to point it out to Celine. Celine would then pretend Blonde was her mother (oh yeah, that would have been convincing for so many reasons) and then Celine would negotiate in Turkish to get a better price. The ruse was never executed successfully but only because Blonde always flubbed her part due to a genetic inability to keep her mouth shut.
As our sailing trip got underway we were fascinated to discover that each day various small boats would come around at different times selling bread, chicken and ice cream (but regrettably no wine). Generally the ship’s cook handled any negotiations that were required. However, the afternoon was when the ice cream boats tended to appear. As ice cream snacks were not part of our food plan it was up to us to purchase them if we were interested. And we were interested every day.
The unsuspecting ice cream seller du jour would pull up. B&B with our eager tourist faces were immediately shushed, if not hidden. Nergis would ask the price in a voice that clearly conveyed that no matter the price that would be named she would know it was absurd and never consider paying it. Negotiating was clearly a part of the culture but Nergis could have taught master classes. The conversations about ice cream pricing were always animated, loud and generally involved a derisive snort or two from or both of the parties to the negotiation. Nergis often waved off the sellers, turned her back and walked away before a final price was “agreed” upon. That would get the price lowered and she would make an excellent show of deigning to reluctantly walk back and purchase what B&B were now whimpering to receive. Celine never missed a moment of this daily ritual.
One of our favorite days was when we thought Nergis had reached a mutually agreeable price, the ice cream man handed over the fattening goodies and then Nergis threw money in his boat announcing that that was what the stuff was worth and that was what he was getting. Apparently he had not understood that to be the agreed upon price but no one messed with Nergis so he grumbled, gestured and left.
As our week was coming to an end Celine suddenly ceased the role of ice-cream negotiator. As she would only wear what she termed her “G string” (bathing suit bottom) and no top she marched in her little, very little, outfit to the side of the boat with her hands on her hips and a bossy, don’t screw with me look on her face. The ice cream men looked perplexed. This tiny mostly naked person looked like an adorable child who was possibly also going to kick their asses. And that’s exactly what she was and what she did.
Perfectly mimicking her mother’s tone of voice, dismissive gestures, fake walking away from dealing with the sellers altogether and indignation at the asking price, Celine got us the lowest price ever paid for ice cream.
The men in the ice cream boat departed quickly as B&B strangled on our laughter at the ice cream sellers’ humiliated and perplexed expressions at having been throughly bested by a 4-year-old in a G string.
And that is why we are sending Celine to negotiate peace in the middle-east, on The Voice and in the Red Sox clubroom. She should have all of that done in the next 24 hours, max. The celebrations will definitely feature ice cream.
However, in recognition that our home country is not winning a lot of popularity contests in the Muslim world, we were resolved to try to behave respectably when the targets of religious information. Little did we know that the religion that we would hear about constantly would be Christianity. This seemed to be especially unfair to uninterested Christians. Did we still have to be polite?
Apparently Turkey (who knew?) was where much of Christianity began and the home of the first teachings and churches. The Virgin Mary made this her last address before she died. Huh? Many mosques were originally churches. WTF? Should we have paid more attention in our formative years which failed to form us very well? Apparently so. It was getting embarrassing being taught Christianity day after day by Muslims.
Somehow we got swept up in the whole thing and decided to go to Ephesus. Before going to Turkey B&B most likely, if asked on a quiz show, would have guessed that Ephesus was the name of a laxative. Now we were know-it-alls capable of casually dropping references to St. Paul speaking to the Ephesians as if this was the stuff of our normal day to day conversation.
This trip was prior to Blonde becoming a pauper. She was still Lady Bountiful so a private driver picked B&B up at our resort in Bodrum and drove, us in an air-conditioned Mercedes, to Ephesus. (For those of you who don’t know how to pick out key words they were private driver, resort and Mercedes in the prior sentence.) The mountainous three hour ride took us past olive trees, donkeys laden with baskets full of bottles of olive oil and small stands selling olive oil. Kind of like a long ride through an olive oil theme park. (Or so Brunette told Blonde who slept for the entire ride.)
As B&B had a flight to catch later in the day, our time in Ephesus was going to be brief. Our driver turned us over to a pre-arranged private guide. The guide spoke excellent English with the minor exception of pronouncing Vs as Ws so we had to avoid eye contact with each other every time he mentioned an “inwasion”. Unfortunately, for several reasons, there have been a lot of inwasions of Ephesus. Speaking of which, this blog is nothing if not an excellent source for history education. (Therefore, this blog is nothing.)
Our rigorous research staff (Blonde on Google) discovered how Ephesus’ location was chosen. The logic was eerily similar to the logic she has employed in her own real estate purchases. To wit:
“In the year of 10 BC, Androclos, the son of King of Athens-Kodros, was searching a location for establishing a site. Androclos belonged to Akhas, and was running from the Dor invasion in Greece. He was leading one of the migration convoys. It was predicted by an Apollon oracle that a fish and a boar would show the location of the new settlement. Days later, parallel to the oracle’s prediction, while frying, a fish fell down from the pan, irritating a hiding boar behind the bushes. The feared boar escaped immediately. Androclos followed the boar and established the city of Ephesus, where he had killed the boar.”
Well, yeah, duh!
Back to the educational Ephesus walkabout. Our guide speed-toured us to the major points of interest in Ephesus. Good Christians would have been fascinated by the amphitheater where St. Paul (just “Paul” in those days) spoke to the Ephesians. Apparently he chapped their asses by saying that gods made by humans were not real gods. (Blonde will not take this bait re whether or not Paul’s god was a human’s idea. No, she won’t. Really. She won’t. At least not right now.) Due to his espoused opinions Paul was given an unrequested early check-out time by city officials. (Blonde knows what that’s like.)
B&Bs favorite topics tend to be some of the same things that 12 year old boys find hilarious. So we were very pleased when our guide, a polite fellow, showed us the men’s public latrines. He solemnly explained that musicians played continuously at the latrines to “cover the sounds of 75 men’s farts”. Then he promptly apologized for his language and said ” And now on to the whorehouse”. Excellent!
We were thrilled – farts and whorehouses, now we’re talking! It was thought-provoking to contemplate musicians, prior to amplifiers, who could generate as much volume as must have been needed to cover that much intestinal tooting. But B&B had to postpone that train of thought to admire the excellent city-planning of Ephesus.
Per our guide, the whorehouse was connected to the library by an underground tunnel. The men would tell their wives they were going to the library and then they would go to the whorehouse. (If Bill Clinton is reading this he must be so pissed that the architect who designed Ephesus didn’t also design the White House. Although who knows what tunnels may exist under the Clinton Library?)
After our long and educational day it was now time to stop farting around and get these two ‘hos to the airport. Cue the music!
When Blonde and Brunette traveled to Turkey in 2002 it was their first joint venture abroad. Originally it was going to be a bicycle trip in the Dordogne region of France. Then a Turkish friend of Blonde’s mentioned she was going to Turkey for the summer and said the sister duo should visit. One call to Brunette and the bicycle trip was ditched faster than a Kardashian’s husband.
We headed off for three weeks in Turkey and spent the first week on a chartered yacht (does that sound as pretentious as it’s supposed to?) with the friend and her four-year old daughter. B&B were massively sheltered from reality that week by being with a native who not only spoke the language but was also the sort of fiercely competent person you would want to have on speed-dial if you had a flat tire, bad hair day or were kidnapped by Somalian pirates.
At the end of the week B&B got into a waiting van and were driven away by an unknown man who spoke no English and whose name and employer (if any) were unknown to us. The boat’s captain had arranged this transportation. We, two unaccompanied American women, happily got into a van driven by a Muslim man in a Muslim country when the U.S. was possibly even less popular than it is now with Muslim countries. (It helps that we have a Muslim president now). What could possibly go wrong?
A lot. But nothing did. Our driver gave us unprompted tea and pee stops and drove us in a completely non-terrifying manner to our destination – The Marmara in Bodrum (http://www.themarmarahotels.com). This was 2002 and the hotel was new(ish) and clearly trying to elevate the level of the tourism experience in Bodrum. The staff had all been recently and scrupulously trained.
Well, you can elevate the experience but it doesn’t necessarily follow that you also elevate your clientele, as our appearance soon proved.
After making complete fools of ourselves with the very tech-advanced room (brief sample as there’s a lot of material here – Brunette seated herself on the toilet and “Twist Again Like You Did Last Summer” by Chubby Checker came blasting out of the bathroom speakers. This had apparently been caused by some button or switch Blonde had pressed in an attempt to turn lights on in a different room. Brunette was unsure as to how she was to apply Chubby’s advice under the circumstances and she got out of there in a hurry.)
As it had been a long day, what with riding, drinking tea, peeing and checking into a luxury resort, we were understandably tired so decided to dine at the hotel that evening. The restaurant, The Tuti, was lovely. We sat outdoors under small twinkling lights and had an expansive view overlooking the Bodrum peninsula from the terrace .
We intended to behave in the sophisticated manner appropriate to our surroundings.
We failed in our attempt. To be truthful, we didn’t try very hard.
The staff at the time was young men with very limited English skills but thorough training in formal service, sort of. They would ceremoniously bring us something. They would then return to a little alcove about 6 feet away. Clearly they mistakenly believed they were now invisible and inaudible to the diners. They would then throw bread rolls at each other and giggle.
Each time they returned to the table they quickly composed themselves, clearly assuming we were none the wiser. (To be fair most people assume that and are correct.)
As we were now without our native speaker friend we realized how childlike we had been for the last week as we attempted to stumble through ordering. The sole response to every question we asked was a smiling “Yes please”. As a blanket statement that was never once the correct response to a question about a menu item or anything else a dining guest was likely to ask.
Predictably we got the giggles over the combination of the off-stage behavior of the servers and their one response. So, as a gesture towards advancing the view of Americans as insensitive idiots, Blonde decided to verify that the answer would be “Yes please” regardless of the question.
One of the servers came over to the table and Blonde asked sweetly “Will you have my baby”? The smiling server nodded and said “Yes please”. He then departed to throw bread rolls and giggle with his coworker.
Blonde and Brunette laughed in their best horse-snorting styles and exited the restaurant to the accompaniment of the patriotic Cuban song Guantanamera. The musical selection made as much sense as anything else that had happened that day. Perhaps more.
Then, Blonde-thoughts not being held for long, she had a cheering realization on a topic that has gained in prominence as the years passed: “Being found dead and naked in the rubble of an earthquake in a small Turkish town would at least make for an eye-catching and thought-provoking obituary headline.”
Blonde lacks the introspection and maturity to fear those things that other post-bloom women fear. Husband running off with some adolescent stripper. No problem. Threw him back decades ago. Don’t care if he’s living with an underage goat. Or even living. Becoming a bag woman. It’d suck but Blonde would have designer bags. Dying alone. Whatever. At least no one would witness a potentially unattractive moment.
Dying buying kitty litter at Target? Sheer terror! The unbearable humiliation of that obituary headline enduring as Blonde’s last gasp legacy. This entirely rational fear has the advantage of causing Blonde to be happy in the midst of any weird danger, ideally in a foreign country. It’s a can’t lose proposition. Survive? Great. Die. Fabulous obituary headline. Win win!
Back to the frightened villagers of Fethiye. It was in that location where Blonde and Brunette, using some faulty assumptions (could be a pun related to the earthquake but isn’t) chose to get “authentic” Turkish baths at Hillside resort. It was a “when in Rome” moment, except it was in Turkey.
A Turkish friend we were traveling with had a good friend who worked in Guest Relations at Hillside Beach Club. (Blonde would think that job meant sleeping with the guests but it apparently did not) We docked our boat at Hillside for the day. The (obviously closet American-hater) resort employee kindly/viciously secured Turkish bath appointments for B&B. No doubt she got a good chuckle once the dopey duo was out of range of hearing (for us about 7 inches).
This was 2002 and Americans weren’t exactly stampeding to visit Muslim countries. The patriotic ones were still out at the mall frantically shopping to give the finger to terrorism, as wisely recommended by George W. A few adventuresome souls took a bus trip to Branson, MO. But no one, especially two flourescent white woman who may as well have had “Unaccompanied Probable-Christian American Harlots” signs over their heads, was going to Muslim countries. That Turkey was secular, an American ally and not known to have any terrorist leanings was irrelevant. Only those as sophisticated (clueless) as B&B saw the opportunity where lesser beings imagined nonexistent threats. Being superior is so fabulous!
Back to the baths. Blonde has been seen naked by about as many men as make up, for the purposes of an indication of magnitude, one of the smaller branches of military service. Like the Army.
Brunette claims a less “impressive” record but written records weren’t even invented back in her day. (Note to self: check oral records.)
But nude in front of each other. I don’t think so.
Nude in excruciatingly close proximity to strangers in a strange land? Oh yeah, we’re in. Or were in theory.
After removing all of our clothes and donning robes we were quite unceremoniously marched into the Hamam of Humiliation. A quick review of the options made it apparent that one of us was going to be bathed by a man and the other a woman. Blonde feared Brunette’s death from horror if she drew the man, so Blonde selflessly went with him. That sacrifice did little to protect either Brunette’s real or Blonde’s fake modesty.
Not only were we going to be bathed in all our decaying glory face-up naked on large marble slabs by two gruff businesslike strangers, but we were going to be the stage act for a group of four pre-scrubbed, lounging, loose-fleshed, chattering Germans.
The man “doing” Blonde was thorough to a point bordering on assault/exhilaration. There we were, naked and being scrubbed with what felt like wire brushes, having things that resembled pillowcases full of bubbles swung over us and then being thoroughly (trust me on this) rinsed.
The entire process seemed to take approximately 17 hours. Someone had to entertain the Germans. They were probably thinking “WTF? How did a country full of idiots like these two come from ever manage to kick our asses in World War II?” (Answer: it was a vastly different caliber of American than B&B who pulled off that feat.)
Back in the austere locker room we panicked at the apparent disappearance of our clothing. Fortunately it had merely been stashed elsewhere and was promptly returned to its anguished, raw, slippery owners.
A Turkish bath will not only leave you clean but will also remove approximately one clothing size’s worth of skin. It turns out that you can live fine without your epidermis. Also, you don’t need another bath for months or at least until the next time a vaguely ominous-looking stranger appears with a pillowcase and wire brush.
When they finished with us we should have gone on a crime spree. All of our skin flakes, fingernails, hair, DNA-identifying features of any kind had been completely scrapped off. Another wasted opportunity.
Be sure to recommend a Turkish bath to anyone you don’t like and who is traveling to Turkey.
(Secret note:I think Blonde promised to never tell this story about Brunette. Too bad Blonde has a bad memory and very little conscience.)