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Experiencing our first Hamam in Fethiye – A Turkish Bath

Our Turkish Bath, or Hamam in Fethiye, was an amazing & very relaxing experience. It was also a lot of fun although at times daunting.

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Fethiye Hamam

If you are lucky enough to travel to Turkey then I would definitely recommend a Hamam or Turkish Bath. It is an extremely traditional and relaxing experience that you will never forget. And like most tourists we were able to arrange our Hamam in Fethiye through our hostel. The added bonus of being outside of the super touristy Istanbul is that it only cost us 35 Turkish Lira each.

Fethiye Hamam

We really did not know what to expect from our first Hamam but luckily were warned to take along our bathers. Cole was keen to go traditional but considering we were with 5 other randoms from our hostel he decided against it. And yes, while unexpected for us, there were random butt naked Turkish men there getting their Hamam on at the same time as us. They will try to be a tad discreet with their sarong but it does not leave much to the imagination.

Being greeted by big, hairy Turkish men with nothing but a small sarong on definitely came as a surprise and we were glad that we were there with our new found Hostel buddies. Nothing secures a friendship like awkward situations! And even though our masseuses didn’t speak a word of English they were very professional from the beginning which made us feel very comfortable.

Word of advice; Generally the Hamams will be conducted by men but if this makes you slightly uncomfortable you can ask for a female.

To begin our experience we were ushered in to a sauna for 20 minutes and proceeded to sweat out all the delicious bread we had consumed over the past week. The heat to begin with is totally unbearable but after about 5 minutes you start to relax. Cole seemed to think that being stuck in a claustrophobic hot room with half naked foreign men is a great time to practice his language skills and continued to butcher the Turkish language.

All sweated out after the sauna we were taken to an intricately carved marble room that had a large platform in the middle. Ushered onto the marble surface, which to my surprise was lovely and warm, we were suddenly assaulted by cold buckets of water as they were tossed over us. Spluttering there was no time to regain our senses before the real Hamam started.

The same big hairy Turkish men began to scrub us vigorously with an exfoliating glove all over. It feels amazing as you are literally shed of layers of skin turning us a sparkling pink. Being flipped from front to back on the slippery marble tiles is actually quite fun although I was worried about being flung across the room. And my knobbly knees and hip bones were getting a beating!

I again tried to strike up a conversation to mask the awkwardness I felt when they were scrubbing my chest however their English was limited so don’t expect too much conversation or the chance to ask too many questions.

Hamam in Fethiye

Next up was the massage. You are literally covered head to toe in soap bubbles until you look like a giant snowman. The masseuses are extremely gentle and have a knack to hit all the right spots where you are tight and sore from travelling. Their gentle hands are a massive contrast to the hard marble beneath you and are very relaxing after the skin cleansing scrubbing and sauna.

Halfway through the massage I was awoken from my half sleep state by my back being cracked in seven different places. My first thought was “oh my god I hope he knows what he is doing” whilst picturing myself walking out of the hammam hunched over. But the more he cracked the more the tension drained out of my back, neck and shoulders. There didn’t seem to be a method though to how they were performing the Hamam’s as Cole swears he didn’t get the back cracking while some of the others in our group did as well.

Be careful when they motion for you to sit up as the overwhelming heat may leave you a little bit light headed. And close your mouth as the next cold bucket of water is thrown over you! The “hair wash” comes next although it was actually more like a “head wash” as my whole face got washed with shampoo! A pleasant enough experience as long as you remember to keep your mouth and eyes closed.

Feel free to sit back and relax in the warm Hamam room while your friends go through the same experience. And it is quite nice being able to provide them with a bit of support if they have been watching you the whole time as well. We just had to constantly keep dousing ourselves in cold water from the basins dotted around the room while we waited so that we didn’t overheat.

When you are all done you will be ushered back out into the bright sunlight are are quickly wrapped up in far too many towels and ordered to lie down in the cool breeze with a refreshing bottle of water. You will feel totally relaxed, invigorated and exhausted all at the same time. While all you will be thinking about is when you can do it all again!

Travel Tip: Don’t do the Hamam at the end of your time in Turkey or you will lose all of that hard-earned tan you have been working on!

Photo credits: Bex Walton and Mr Kubi

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Natalie

    May 11, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Hubby loves his Turkish bath – quite a social event for him and his friends. I can think of better places to relax with good company but I suppose it is what you are used to.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 13, 2012 at 12:25 PM

      I don’t know that I would do it as often as meeting up with friends etc but definitely enjoyed it as a relaxing day out 🙂

  2. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)

    May 11, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Great experience, guys! How fun! I would definitely do it, sounds relaxing. I would probably prefer a woman, though. I could definitely go for a massage right now!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 13, 2012 at 12:23 PM

      We felt comfortable because we had so many of us all together but if it was just myself or one other then might request a girl.

  3. Pingback: The best travel articles for the week ending 05/11/2012.

  4. bronwen burmester

    May 12, 2012 at 12:05 AM

    It sounds a real experience and I had a few chuckles reading your blog Adela! Thanks

    • Cole Burmester

      May 13, 2012 at 12:15 PM

      Thanks Bron 🙂 Was funny and awkward at the same time!

  5. Angela

    May 12, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    I didn’t try Turkish bath because I didn’t have the time when I was in Istanbul, but I know it’s both relaxing and exhausting!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 13, 2012 at 12:08 PM

      It’s a shame you didn’t get to go but hopefully if you visit again you will find the time. Well worth it!

  6. Ayngelina

    May 14, 2012 at 4:38 AM

    I think it’s better that there was no English, I hate talking to people when I’m naked…you know what I mean.

    How rough was it? I remember watching Anthony Bourdain do it and it looked painful.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 14, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      It wasn’t too rough actually. They probably took it easy on us compared to Anthony Bourdain anyway!

  7. A Montrealer Abroad

    May 14, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    I definitely wouldn’t be comfortable being scrubbed all over by big Turkish man! But a woman might be nice. I hear Hamams are both extremely rough and gentle at the same time – maybe one day I’ll see it for myself.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 14, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      Haha I definitely wasn’t comfortable but it is just one of those things that you do I guess when travelling 🙂

  8. Ali

    May 14, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    This just doesn’t sound appealing to me. I don’t like normal massages because they either hurt me or tickle me, and I’m just incredibly uncomfortable the whole time. I know I’m not normal in this, but it’s just not for me. Glad you enjoyed it though!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 14, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      Fair enough! Everything is not for everyone and we probably couldn’t do loads of things you do Ali 🙂

  9. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    May 15, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    Sounds like a very nice experience. It’s especially great that it’s not too much of a tourist attraction as compared to being in Istanbul and does not cost much.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 15, 2012 at 7:37 PM

      It was easily more than half the price than the one in Istanbul that we saw. If you visit Turkey then definitely try it out Mary!

  10. Shanna Schultz

    May 16, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    I am excited about visiting the Hammam when we eventually get to Turkey, but my husband is VERY leery about it. Glad to read that you had a mostly positive experience!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 16, 2012 at 8:58 PM

      Go with another couple and you guys will love it (hubby included)!

  11. Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    May 17, 2012 at 5:11 AM

    Haha I love the reference to big hairy Turkish men! I’m happy to read that women can do this. I always just assumed it was a men’s thing in Turkey. It sounds painful and relaxing at the same time.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 17, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      Traditionally it is a men’s thing but pretty sure the big hairy Turkish men don’t mind the odd bikini wearing tourist coming in haha. It is definitely no more painful than a regular massage!

  12. D.J. - The World of Deej

    May 23, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    I rarely get massages, but sounds like I’d have to make time if ever in Turkey…

    • Cole Burmester

      May 23, 2012 at 9:28 PM

      Most definitely D.J! They were quite an experience but not really a massage but more of a full body cleanse 🙂

  13. Courtney Mroch

    May 24, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    We were not brave enough to do a hamam when we went to Turkey. We wanted to but…neither one of us knew the other wanted to. If we had, we would’ve talked each other into it. It’s on our list for next time!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 25, 2012 at 12:26 PM

      Definitely lock it in next time Courtney! It is a must experience for Turkey 🙂

  14. Em@Philippine Travel

    June 1, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    The Hamam bath is interesting but I don’t think I can to take to be thrown with cold waters. I’m not really not used to taking cold showers and I only bath warm water. However, I still want to try this one. I’m just curious, if you’re a girl, who will bath you? A girl or a guy?

    • Cole Burmester

      June 2, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      You need the cold water otherwise you will over heat! We just had guys but if you are a girl you can request a girl to do your massage.

  15. Turtle

    June 8, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    I think it’s quite interesting to compare the massage style from different countries around the world. I haven’t been to Turkey before but this one sounds pretty unique!

    • Cole Burmester

      June 10, 2012 at 3:23 PM

      Haha not sure that we want to hear all about your massage stories Michael! 😉

  16. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    July 2, 2012 at 2:39 AM

    I’ve always wanted to experience a Turkish bath, sounds like an adventure you won’t soon forget!

    • Cole Burmester

      July 2, 2012 at 4:20 PM

      Just make sure you go with people you are really comfortable with 😉

  17. Andrea

    September 21, 2012 at 5:00 AM

    I did one in Istanbul last year. I purposely chose one where it was just for women, by women. I really, really enjoyed it! No English was OK, gestures are enough to get the point across. My problem was I was in the cool pool (naked) and they never came to get me with towel, so I had to wander around looking for someone to get back to the changing area. Otherwise it was not only a cultural experience, but I felt fresh and new!

  18. Mickf

    October 15, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Hi

    I am about to go to Turkey and fancy a go at the traditional Turkish bath. A couple of questions, first which hamam did you go to in Fethiye? And second were these butt naked men in a mixed Turkish bath or was this a men only one? Seems a bit wrong if they are naked in a mixed bath.
    Mick

    • Cole Burmester

      October 16, 2012 at 9:48 AM

      Hey Mick, thanks for dropping by the site. I can’t remember the exact name but I had a look on Google Maps and 99% sure this is the one – Sultan Hamam, Foça Mh., 48300 Fethiye/Muğla Province, Turkey. We organised it through our Hostel which was called Fethiye Guesthouse if you want to contact them?

      The men were decently covered with towels etc so it was not like they were parading around with their bits dangling out for everyone to see. But it was a mixed bath. I am sure you could probably ask for a bit more privacy but we were in a group of 6 and felt totally comfortable.

  19. Ralph Daughtry

    January 25, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    A Turkish bath is the experience of a life time. Nothing else can compare. The hairy men that do the job are marvelous, they show you what to do without a word of English or German or whatever…The atmosphere is like a men’s-club. All the water is warm and soothing and the bathing is clean, totally non-sexual, a Haman is not the place for this, a Haman is a sybaritic experience unequaled in the rest of the world. he other men are friendly and will often ask you to wash their backs if you are open to that. This is experiencing the loving touch of another human being and don’t go to you grave without a Turkish bath!!!

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Europe

Tips for Making Any Overseas Trip a Romantic One

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Vacations are a great way to leave our everyday lives behind to spend some stress free time with the one we love. Travel in itself can be quite romantic but there are definitely ways you can spice up your holidays even more.

Follow these helpful tips to make sure your romantic holiday gets off on the right foot and continues to head down the tunnel of love and passion. You can easily turn any part of your travels into a special romantic affair.

Choosing the Right Destination

A romantic trip starts with selecting the right destination. There are definitely cities and regions which are much more prone to sparking romance than others. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but generally destinations such as popular European cities, beach getaways, Asian resorts, luxury ski resorts, or tropical islands make for a good choice.

Couples should pick a destination which they both will enjoy as this will of course make it far easier to express their love for each other.

Choosing the Right Time

It is a good idea to select a time that will be most appropriate for your holiday. Choose a time that is easy for you in regards to taking time off work or from household duties. This will make it far easier to feel relaxed while on your holiday, allowing you to focus more on fuelling the romance.

You may also want to research when the best time is to visit your chosen destination so as to avoid peak crowds or unideal weather conditions.

Choosing a romantic date to travel such as an anniversary, honeymoon, or birthday can also turn any holiday into one filled with more passion. Travelling during Valentine’s Day can make for an especially romantic holiday of which there are many perfect Valentine’s Day destinations.

Fly Business Class

Although your destination may be exhilarating, the flight or flights to get there can be stressful. Minimise the stress of flying by booking business class where you’ll enjoy the VIP treatment with far more comfortable seats which many times convert into a bed allowing for a decent rest while in the air.

As a bonus you can many times be granted access to luxurious airport lounges when flying business class which makes waiting for your flight much easier as you are treated to free food and drinks along with clean bathrooms and seating areas.

Private Transportation

Public transportation can not only take longer to get to your hotel or attractions in your chosen destination, but they can also kill the mood for you and your loved one. By booking private transfers via your hotel or on your own, you can avoid buses, trams, and trains which can be crowded and noisy.

Choose a Nice Hotel

It may be difficult to find romance if you are staying in a dodgy motel or hostel. Be sure to book quality accommodation which has private en suites and clean furnishings. Remember that your vacation is supposed to be an escape, so make that escape the best it can be with premium toiletries, fancy marble bathroom floors, plush pillows, quality linen, and a nice hotel room view. All of these luxuries will make for a far more romantic getaway.

Eating Out

Nothing can ignite romance more than delicious food although preparing it isn’t always that much fun. One of the best aspects of travelling is that it gives us an excuse to not have to cook.

Seek out popular restaurants that offer a romantic setting, quality service, and mouth watering flavours that will leave you passionate for more than just satisfying your hungry stomach.

Get Dressed Up

Although you and your loved one may look good in any light and attire, it is never a bad idea to put on your Sunday’s best. It can sometimes be difficult in our everyday lives to find occasions to get all dressed and made up, so why not make your holiday abroad an excuse to do so.

Although clothes may not necessarily make the person, a nice dress or suit and tie can go a long way to giving us a little extra special glow to spark a bit of romance.

Log Off and Put the Phone Away

Nothing can kill a romantic dinner or event than the sound of message notifications, phone calls, or emails. Any holiday should be an excuse to remove the stress of the online world or work and with romantic holidays this becomes even more paramount.

You want to be focusing your attention on the love you and your partner share or if travelling solo you want this time to focus on the beauty of the destination you have selected which may in turn bring you a bit of romance. Disconnecting is all about reconnecting; so log off and put the phone away!

Reduce the Risk of Stressful Situations

Stress can kill romance very quickly. When we are stressed we can easily find ourselves getting into silly arguments or bouts of criticism. Your holiday is supposed to be an enjoyable experience so don’t let it turn sour by making the possibility of stress to creep on in.

Don’t try to overload your itinerary with too much and avoid setting too rigid of a timeline. Prior planning is important to avoid any unwanted surprises or disappointments when it comes to securing reservations for flights, hotels, or activities.

Should anything go wrong during your travels, you want to have the peace of mind you are protected by travel insurance from InsureandGo. Travel Insurance can help when the unforseen happens while you are overseas.

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Europe

How to Plan a Trip to Iceland

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If you have ever heard the amazing stories about Iceland, they are all true!  If you’ve come this far into doing research about how to plan a trip to Iceland, I’m here to help you cross the bridge and fill in gaps so you can make your dream a reality.

As someone who has done this trip, I’m able to assist in every step of the journey.  I’ve boiled this down into cliff notes so you can do your own research after reading them and dig deeper into tours that will fit your personal preferences and budget.

First off, you are going to need to trust the Internet.  It’s a big place with a lot of information that can help you get there in one piece and not be stressed out.  Long gone are the days of visiting a travel agency and having someone plan everything for you – for a fee!  It’s your adventure, and you can know that every item is covered online, you just need to know how to look for it.

The best tip I can give you is to leverage the various Facebook Groups about Iceland.

Resource:  When In Iceland Facebook Group.

Next, you’ll want to decide when to visit Iceland.

The winter months will allow you to have more freedom as the tourism numbers are down.  However, this comes with the caveat that it will be below freezing and there will be very little sunlight!  The sun is only out for approximately six hours during the month of December!

On the positive side, this allows you a great opportunity to view the Northern Lights, which is a marquee attraction in Iceland.

Conversely, the Fall and Spring will bring you better temperatures and less snow, but there will be a much slimmer chance of viewing the Northern Lights.

Lastly, there are the Summer months.  While you will see a greener country and experience a lot of beauty on that end of the spectrum, it does come with a much higher price tag.  Be prepared to spend more money if you choose to visit Iceland in the Summer.

Also, you’ll want to have an agenda.  If you are one to take things in on your own and adventure into the wild, Iceland will be a perfect escape for you.  There are also guided tours that you can hire and they will accommodate to your every need or desire.  Simply ask anyone in the aforementioned Facebook group and they can steer you in the right direction.

You can of course, do public transportation in Iceland.  It’s entirely safe and used by many people.

Iceland is a fantastic, unique place to visit.  If you need any help planning your trip, please visit my Iceland Tour guide resource and leave a comment.  Happy Travels.

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Europe

Overlooked and Underrated Euro Vacations

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Here’s a quick list of places to possibly include in your next European itinerary. 2018 is the year of the underrated vacation spot in our humble opinions, and we want to honor it.

Basque Country:

This place is in this author’s humble opinion easily and hands-down the most underrated little corner of Europe.

And honestly, between the two, the Spanish side of Basque country is going to cost you probably around 50% what the French side will, and most people in the know will agree that the Spanish side is at least 100% more fun!

 

Canary Islands:

There are two ways to do the Canaries: simply fly in and enjoy them, or treat yourself and a loved one to a romantic Canary Island cruise.

Best time to visit is definitely either spring or fall, as it does get quite cold in the winter and quite hot in the summer. If you are a beach bum, on the other hand, summer is best (but there will be a lot more tourists in the summer).

 

Siena, Italy:

This city is often overshadowed by Rome, Florence, and Venice, but it actually is arguably the best-preserved city in Italy and has the best historic city center. The cuisine here is absolutely to die for, and you won’t have to pay inflated tourist prices like you will in the aforementioned places either!

If you can, try to make it for the famous Palio, a horse race that has been going on literally for centuries.

 

Brussels:

Just as Siena is overshadowed by other bigger Italian cities, Brussels tends to stand forgotten next to London and Paris. But Brussels has key elements of the two metropolises, as well as its own unique and delicious cuisine, its own beer (considered by more than a few experts to be the worlds best), and easily the worlds best chocolate, both in solid and drinkable form. Belgian chocolate will seriously change your life forever.

 

Istria, Croatia:

This is one of the world’s best summer beach destinations. It’s incredibly beautiful, and by Western European standards, almost outrageously cheap.

Hipster tourists are starting to come in and drive prices up, but it still remains a great bargain by any standards, and most importantly, it’s a bargain without really having to give up any of our beloved amenities.

 

Budapest:

Budapest could be called the poor man’s Prague, but in reality that name isn’t very fair. For one thing, Hungarian culture and Czech culture are actually extremely different (for one thing, the Hungarian language isn’t in the same family as the rest of Europe, it’s its own thing completely, like the Basque language).

Prague is gorgeous, but it’s getting almost as expensive as the rest of Europe too, and honestly Budapest’s history and culture is much more interesting, especially for the seasoned traveller.

 

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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