Don’t worry, friends and readers, this is going to return to its previous MP3 blog status. But part of the reason that I am extending the Europe blogging a bit longer is because being gone for a month sort of skews what you know about music that’s out right now. So while I finish up my reconnaissance, you’ll probably get one or two more posts about Europe.
I didn’t get much chance to write during my trip to Greece, mostly because travelling by boat gives you much more ways and opportunities to fill free time than travelling by bus. I did write one long entry, from which I’ll copy a few things down, and then probably add some things.
“Greece has been unreal, more like a dream than reality. It seems like no matter how much it sinks in, no matter how much I relish each moment, it’s gone sooner than I want. I want to be in Greece & Turkey longer, I want to be on this ship longer. But these days are numbered.”
This trip was my first time on a cruise ship. I never really saw myself as someone who would be into cruising, but I have to say that I’m sold. The length, however, was perfect. I wrote this mid-trip, but at the end of the trip, I was definitely glad to be back on solid land, though still sad to be leaving Greece. I think most of us felt that we could’ve used a few more days to lay around on one of the islands before we said good-bye.
Of the islands we visited, Rhodes, Santorini & Mykonos were my favorites (as well as most of the others’), probably in that order. I would’ve liked to see more of Crete, because I have a feeling that there’s a lot to see there in a lot of different cities, and I didn’t see any cities, I didn’t see anything of it aside from Knossos Palace (which I am glad I saw) and the Archaeological Museum (which wasn’t as impressive as the one in Athens, actually, but still interesting), but those who just wandered around Heraklion didn’t seem to be fond of the town at all.
“Istanbul was over-whelmingly vivid. I’m glad to have crammed so much into one day, but we didn’t spend nearly enough time at each place, let alone in the city itself.
The Turkish Bath was an eye-opening experience. If I (or anyone) thought myself to be prude or closed-minded at any point in time, I would say that I’ve proved those notions wrong — time and time again, really — but especially in that moment.”
The Turkish Bath was definitely an experience — one that those of us who did it were talking about for the rest of the trip. Basically, when we walked in, we were given a towel, and a washcloth in a box. We strip down, cover ourselves in the towels, and are ushered into a circular room that is almost entirely marble, with sinks all around, and a huge, circular sort of platform in the middle, which everyone lays down on. This room is very, very hot, and we are all sweating within minutes.
After about a half an hour of this, a group of washer ladies (all mostly naked, wearing just underwear, no bras) comes in. I run off to try and find something with which to cover the burn on my leg, and then sit in the middle until a woman is free. When a woman is free, she tells me to lay down my towel, and then lay on top of it. She then dumps bowls of water and soap on me, and washes me, then massages my neck, shoulders, legs and feet. Afterwards, she washes my hair.
Once I got over the fact that I was naked in front of a strange Turkish woman (which was actually pretty easy to do since I was naked in front of lots of strange Turkish women, as well as women from my tour, and, obviously they were all naked as well), it felt nice, though it also made me feel a bit like I was a kid again. While my washer woman was giving me the massage, she could tell that I was a bit tensed after 3 weeks of travelling, two of which were by coach, and kept saying “you like this.” The most amusing part, however, was when she slapped my butt as a signal to tell me to turn over (she did this to another girl on my tour, as well).
The guys in our group that went were all allowed to keep their towels on while being washed (I should mention that the men were in a separate room), but they still walked away with some hilarious anecdotes, as well. The fact that some of us were willing to do something like this as a group after only knowing each other for a few days really impressed me. By the time we went for nargile (aka shisah aka hookah) that night, we were all joking and laughing about it — I definitely think it brought some of us closer together.
Istanbul as a whole was so different and more exciting than I could’ve ever imagined it. The nightlife definitely suits me — after dinner, we went for nargile (and apple tea!), then went to a dance club that played Turkish hits, which was a nice change after the previous 2-3 weeks I had of going to clubs that played the same American radio hits over and over and over… i.e. “My Humps” and “Hips Don’t Lie,” which was EVERYWHERE. Walking around, it felt like the city had a kind of electricity running through it — maybe from the Turkish coffee, which was the best tasting cup of coffee I think I’ve ever had (and I’m from Seattle). The men are all dark and handsome (we single girls were certainly enjoying the sights), albeit a bit forward and sketchy, as many European men tended to be.
The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia were more impressive than any church I’ve seen (except for maybe the Sagrada Familia, which with I am obsessed, much like Gaudi himself), and being that this was my sixth time to Europe, I can tell you I’ve seen a lot of churches. Thanks in part to the city’s religious nature, the people watching was incredible — we had a lot of time at Topkapi Palace, and I spent a good 20-30 minutes sitting and just people watching. Many of the men dressed in a more westernized fashion, even if their wives were in complete traditional dress, with their face covered. However, most of the women wore slightly westernized clothes with the traditional headwear, but without covering their faces. It was equally interesting to watch how people reacted to me, since I am a) very obviously not Turkish, and b) I was showing a bit of skin (I was wearing this outfit).
It was a tough duel between Turkey and Greece for favorite place that I went. Greece wins, but it has the upper-hand since I saw more of it and basically planned my trip around wanting to go to Greece and wanting to see as much of it as possible while still having time to visit other countries. Still, Turkey is absolutely worth my visting again, and worth anyone’s time to visit, trust me.
One more Europe entry left. Be patient. Music is coming.