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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

Adela is one half of the New Zealand Adventure Couple who have been travelling since 2009. She loves the outdoors and has a real passion for Snowboarding, Mountain Biking and Surfing (apart from being scared of sharks). She loves food and writes all our food posts. Consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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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

Four Jandals Visits an Amsterdam Peep Show

Have you ever wanted to visit an Amsterdam peep show? We had the chance to go and embraced it with open arms. Check out our experience here

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Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

An Amsterdam peep show is a must, just like visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Okay slightly different. But you have got to go!

And if you have ever wanted to visit Amsterdam then more than likely you are going to be interested in checking out a peep show in the red light district. It might be worthwhile checking out this Amsterdam’s Red Light District – The ultimate guide.

Amsterdam Moulin Rouge Red Light District

There is something about the red light district that draws the punters and tourists alike in. Maybe it is the bright red neon lights that illuminate the darkened alleyways that pull them in like moths to a flame. Or the bars and coffee shops that let a certain smell waft lazily across the glistening canals.

Or maybe it is just the fact that sex really does sell.

When we visited Amsterdam with a couple of friends we actually spent what I now consider an embarrassingly long time in that same area. The fact is that we seriously could not get enough.

Not like that of course!

We just couldn’t believe that everyone is so open and carefree about what is for all intents and purposes, window shopping for sex. The number of guys knocking on windows and being ushered behind the curtains of every room were staggering.

However, we were not enticed ourselves to fork over $50 euros but were intrigued enough to want to check out an Amsterdam peep show. I just want to clarify here that it was actually Adela that was the most keen. I just didn’t want to let her down so went along with it…

Amsterdam Red Light District

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaynekaye/4792525797

Visiting the Amsterdam peep show

Much to our surprise, there is only one Amsterdam peep show left in the whole city back in 2012!

The very originally named “Sex Palace” is situated on the banks of one of the main canals in the heart of the red light district on Oudezijds Achterburgwal street. Walking under the neon flashing lights into the entrance way your senses are assaulted by sights, sounds and disturbingly smell.

All around the walls are posters and screens showing ladies in various states of undress and positions. A white board lists the movies that you can rent out for your viewing pleasure in one of the many private booths. But we were only there for one thing:

The circular structure sitting slightly to the left of the entrance with a dozen small doors along it’s walls. 

Each of those small doors lead into equally small rooms no larger than a traditional UK phone box. A small covered viewing window blocks your view forward.

The money box clinging to the wall to operate the viewing window only accepts coins. But don’t worry if you only have notes as they handily have a large coin machine dishing out $2 euro coins for ease of watching.

Once you close the door and chuck in your money, the viewing window pops open for 2 minutes and allows you to view the large, slowly-rotating stage on which a scantily-dressed woman displays herself. With her flexibility she could have represented any country in the upcoming Olympics!

Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattmangum/2301545978

I was cracking up laughing the entire time I was in there because you can actually just make out the rest of the “audience” in the opposite booths. I even got a little wave and smile as the girl slowly revolved past my window.

The Amsterdam peep show was a little bit creepy. But even though we were there late on a Saturday night the booths were doing a roaring trade. Obviously nearly everyone else, from the hens parties to the couples, were there for the same reason as us. To check out one or two rounds before heading back into the night giggling like school girls at a sleepover at what we had just done.

The shifty eyed single men on the other hand skulked away to their respective viewing windows again and again with pockets full of coins.

If you ever get the chance then we actually do highly recommend taking the plunge and visiting an Amsterdam peep show. Just make sure that you are always respectful of the women in the shows and the ones on the streets!

Have you ever been to an Amsterdam Peep Show or Sex show? Tell us about your experience below.

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Europe

5 European Cities to Visit in the Dead of Winter

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As one of the most polarizing seasons, winter could be termed as both a blessing and a curse by those who like making the most out of nature.

After all, while it brings about the opportunity to build snowmen and to ski on magnificent ice slopes, it also brings a chill to the bone and a desire to never get away from the fireplace.

Don’t forget about the hot chocolate either.

That is why, when it comes to vacationing in winter, it gets quite difficult to choose from a location – especially when the destination is as diverse in climate as Europe. Do you select a place that’s sunny and warm? Or somewhere that lets you enjoy the ice and cold in the best ways possible?

To make that decision easier for you, here are 5 European cities that you could visit in the dead of winter, with the assurance that you would come out of the vacation phase with a smile on your face.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a city that is synonymous with sunshine, warmth, and some of the world’s most breathtaking architecture.

The temperature rarely drops below 45 degrees even in the coldest months of the year. While the sunshine remains present amidst the rainy days. This means that you can enjoy the best effects of winter without having to endure the worst of them.

If you happen to be a fan of football, then these effects can be increased by several times. This beautiful city is home to one of the greatest football clubs of all time and with Barcelona FC in contention for a championship virtually every year, odds are you’ll be walking out with a smile on your face after watching a win. Not a bad way to take a break from the beach!

Athens, Greece

While you wouldn’t be able to go to Mount Olympus’ mythical version in this day and age, you can still experience Greece’s magnificence through the beautiful city of Athens.

Like Barcelona, Athens also sees rare drops in temperature while being consistent around 45 degrees throughout the heaviest months in winter. With the architecture that you can experience under the sun, this weather can actually be ideal for an exploratory walk.

And if you are a fan of Greek food, then checking out local restaurants for authentic dishes would only add to the overall experience of your trip.

Venice, Italy

Since Italy is full of some of the most breathtaking architecture in the world, it would be quite debatable to say that Venice is the crown jewel of the country in terms of structural beauty.

But it is.

From the way that the city has been designed to the manner that the buildings have been developed, Venice remains a breathtaking sight for anyone who visits it.

That remains true even in the months of winter, where the does drop to around 30 degrees, but still provides the tourists and inhabitants with a way to enjoy the magnificent sights under the sun.

Zugspitze, Germany

Germany is considered to be one of the coldest countries in Europe, but it is a good thing for those who enjoy a bit of snow during their travels.

And for those who do, there are perhaps not many places that are as marvelous as Zugspitze in terms of a memorable winter experience.

With snow covered mountains and a temperature that dances around -14 degrees in winter, you can enjoy an array of winter sports such as skiing, sledding, and snowboarding to your heart’s desire. If you are one to enjoy snow and everything good there is about the season of winter, then Zugspitze is the place to go.

Marseilles, France

While Paris gets quite cold in winter without the weather enhancing any effects of life within the city, Marseille seems to be quite the opposite. The city is as lively in the winter as it is during its busiest days in summer, with plenty to do in adjacent areas.

You may visit the many architectural sites and tourist attractions in Marseilles itself, but you can add to that experience when you choose to visit the Christmas markets in Aix en Provence or Avignon.

With that, the many warm and steamy French soups and bouillon based dishes that you can enjoy in Marseilles only add to the trip. This means that by the time you are done with your visit to Marseilles, you are bound to be fed well, have some goods in your shopping bags, and some memorable pictures in your phone to boot.

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Europe

Even the Most Expensive Cities Have Cheaper Alternatives: Paris

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According to the results of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s “Worldwide Cost of Living” survey, Singapore, Paris, Zurich, Hong Kong, and Oslo are the most expensive places to live – and visit – this year. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit them, though – actually if your budget allows it, you should cross them off your bucket list as soon as you can. But this doesn’t mean you have to break all your piggy banks and sell your soul only to spend a weekend in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Unless you’re adamant that it’s “Paris or bust”, there are alternatives to this crowded and top-dollar destination you might want to consider – and start saving for your dream trip nonetheless.

Lyon

Lyon has a history of almost two millennia, and it shows: the remains of the Roman settlement Lugdunum, built at the confluence of the rivers Saône and Rhône, are showing to this day. Lyon might not be a capital city – it doesn’t have the size or the population – but its role in the everyday life of France was always important, both as a trade and a cultural hub.

The city has many gorgeous sights to see, like the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, the Tour Métallique (a tall TV tower that replicates the top of the Eiffel Tower), among others, covering every age from the birth of the city to its modern times. Plus, it has museums, parks, gardens, and a street art group that has been designated the cultural ambassador for the city. Not to mention its cuisine, the unique and popular Lyonnaise cuisine that has become a worldwide sensation.

Lille

A relatively small city in the north of France, Lille is another charming alternative to a crowded and overpriced Paris. It features many distinct architectural styles, most of them with a clear Flemish influence. Among its landmarks, you find its Cathedral (Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille), its Citadel, its palaces, and gardens. Lille is also the place with the biggest flea market in Europe – Braderie de Lille takes place on the first Sunday of September, with millions of attendees and over 10,000 sellers gathering in the streets of the city. It’s a charming, agreeable, and colorful city that will offer its visitors a beautiful experience.

Strasbourg

Last but not least, let us mention a city with a double significance – on one hand, it’s the official seat of the European Parliament, on the other, it’s a wonderful place to visit and a great alternative to an overcrowded Paris.

Strasbourg is a place where French and German architecture mingle in a unique way, with an Old Town filled with timber-framed houses surrounding typical French landmarks and churches. It also has many notable parks, some with historic significance, and almost too many museums for its small size. Plus, it’s a distinctively multicultural city where visitors will find it easy to fit in.

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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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