Tag - Turkey

1
The best new hotel openings for 2013
2
Holiday like James Bond
3
Purple Tips: Craziest Adventure Holidays
4
Foodie Corner: Istanbul Food Guide
5
Purple Hearts… Dalaman Holidays 2014
6
Purple 10: The sexiest bars in the world
7
Purple 10: Weird things stolen from hotel rooms
8
A first-timers guide to Hammam
9
Purple Hearts: Bodrum Holiday Resort
10
Summer 2012: Turkish delight

The best new hotel openings for 2013

These incredible 2013 hotel openings will provide great travel inspiration for your next trip. From a Thief Hotel to a sushi hotel, we’ve uncovered the best of the best.

The Quin Hotel

The Quin Hotel, New York

The celebrated 57th Street Buckingham Hotel, built in 1929, is to be restored this year as The Quin Hotel.  Once frequented by musical legends such as pianist/composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the historic 18-storey beauty is set to open in February 2013, and hopes to capitalise on this musical and artistic heritage. Its luxurious in-house amenities even include a gallery, featuring paintings by Irish artist, Patrick Graham. Furthermore, the hotel’s location, which is within walking distance of Carnegie Hall, the Museum of Modern Art and the 57th Street gallery district, is sure to add to its cultural flair. The hotel will have 200 rooms, an American restaurant, a spa and a business centre.

the thief

The Thief, Oslo

Recently opened in downtown Olso, Norway, is a former 18th-century prisoner colony come waterfront hotel. Aptly named The Thief, the name derives from the days when criminals were brought to Tjuvholmen, nicknamed “Thief Island”, which lies just off the coast. Today, the same waterfront is made up of art galleries, bars, cafes, restaurants, shops, and now, to the modern 119-room, nine-floor hotel.  A member of Design Hotels, The Thief boasts a penthouse suite, panoramic views of the city and a rooftop terrace. Although it’s unlikely that you will be wishing to escape from this prison, as cars are forbidden along the Scandinavian coastline, the primary way of getting around is via foot or bike.

exec_suite_br_0387_B

Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace, St. Petersburg

Once home to a Russian princess, Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg is, as its name suggests, a restored palace. Expected to open sometime in spring 2013, the hotel’s majestic marble staircase is embellished with gold and bronze moulding, a nod to its 1820s glory; the designers even used the original architectural drawings as a reference. One of the palace’s earlier courtyards is now a glass enclosed Tea Lounge, serving breakfast, tea and a light dinner. Hungrier guests can indulge in some fine Italian cuisine at the Percorso restaurant or decadent Asian fare at Sintoho, followed by a glass of cognac at Xander bar. In the works is also a four-level luxury spa with an enclosed rooftop pool and several treatment rooms.

the peninsula

The Peninsula, Paris

Hong Kong-based Peninsula Hotels group will this year make its European debut with its Parisian addition, set to open in late 2013. The hotel will occupy the Beaux-Arts gem constructed in 1908, which was once home to the Majestic Hotel. Great measures are being taken to make certain the building is restored to its original magnificence and ensure that it blends flawlessly with the surrounding Parisian architecture in the sophisticated neighbourhood of the 16th arrondissement. Once complete, The Peninsula will house an impressive 200 guest rooms and a spa on the enviable Avenue Kléber near the Champs-Élysées.

nobu-hotel-las-vegas

Nobu, Las Vegas

Opening in Las Vegas is the first-ever hotel from master sushi chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Expected to open within Caesars Palace on February 4, the hotel will be one of the first expansions of a restaurant into the world of hotels – a new trend for the New Year perhaps… watch this space. The idea of a hotel built around a restaurant concept is something we quite admire, and with interior design from David Rockwell, including a hand-layed river rock wall, we’re certain the venue will not disappoint.  And of course, ordering room service from Nobu is a dream soon to be realised.

Shangri-La-Bosphorus-Istanbul_Premier-Bosphorus-Room-568x377

Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul

Shangri-La Bosphorus, set to open in Istanbul in the first quarter of 2013, will be the luxury hotel brand’s first property in Turkey. Sitting neatly on the shore of the Bosphorus Strait in the Besiktas district near the Dolmabahce Palace, the hotel is ideally located for all the local amenities. Its addition to the Istanbul skyline will be particularly of note, as on completion Shangri-La Bosphorus will be the second tallest building on the coastline. With 186 guest rooms, including 17 suites with sea views, the hotel’s design is contemporary mixed with Asian touches. This theme crosses over to the hotel restaurant, which serves both Western and Asian cuisine, while in the Lobby Lounge guests can enjoy afternoon tea and tapas. Ladies may indulge at The Spa at Shangri-La, which will specialise in Chinese healing therapies, yet also include two Turkish hammams.

maldives

Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives

While remote, the Maldives’ island of Noonu Atoll, is possibly the most perfect setting for the upcoming Cheval Blanc Randheli (part of LVMH’s luxury hotel portfolio). Set to open this summer, the extravagant 45 loft-style villas, some of which will be set on the white-sand beach, while others will be propped up on stilts over turquoise waters, will feature personal infinity pools, flawlessly selected interiors and awe-inspiring views of the contiguous lagoon. The Cheval Blanc Spa will be readily available for indulgent treatments, and a fleet of traditional Maldivian fishing boats, specially crafted for Cheval Blanc, will allow guests to explore the local area at its most romantic. The heavenly retreat will also include four restaurants, ranging from fine dining to a fish market, as well as cigar and wine cellars.

Holiday like James Bond

Bond, James Bond. Shaken not stirred. That bikini. Let’s face it, Ian Fleming’s creation has come to define the best of British, the suave secret agent, able to infiltrate top secret bunkers and is at home in exotic destinations all over the world (and above it!) James and his, ahem, lady friends have solved mysteries and toppled evil organizations from Istanbul to Iceland and Jamaica to Japan.

We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Bond classics with, what else, but the top destinations where we can indulge in a martini, and live like Bond (preferably, without Blofeld or Max Zorin turning up!)

James Bond Island

Image via @ Jo@net

Ko Tapu Island, Thailand So closely linked with 007 that it’s actually known as James Bond Island. It was the backdrop for the famous duel between Roger Moore’s Bond and Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun. Thailand is of course famous for breathtaking white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and laidback atmosphere, for when you’ve finished your James Bond adventure!

Paris, France Yes, that is James Bond giving chase to Grace Jones’ May Day up the steps of the Eiffel Tower in A View to a Kill. Handily for her, she manages to escape with the aid of a parachute in one of the most memorable Bond scenes. You can’t actually parachute off it though, but you can still learn about Franz Reighfelt’s who’s parachute suit didn’t really happen in 1912.

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic Although set in Montegnegro, Casino Royale’s epic game of cards was actually filmed in the resort a few hours from Prague. It’s even got its own casino, so you can properly recreate the Bond experience. Although the capital is usually the favourite for a visit, exploring a little further afield will give you a fantastic holiday experience.

Corfu, Greece The relaxed Greek Island might not be your first tip for a Bond adventure, but the glorious scenery and fantastic weather were obviously a big lure. Bond adventured in the area around Mouse Island in For Your Eyes Only. Greece is a great place to holiday right now, with plenty of bargains on offer.

Udaipur, India Still a favourite with Bond fans today, the Taj Lake Palace was where 007 ventured, after a quick stop off at the Taj Mahal, in 1983’s Octopussy. The vast country of India really is home to holidays of a lifetime, from the visiting the Taj like James, to the rolling countryside, exotic food, and fantastic beaches, you’ll find something to suit every taste.

Luxor, Egypt In the Spy Who Loved Me, Luxor acted as the Egyptian capital Cairo, with the Karnak Temple and famous Pyramids as a backdrop. However you might have been concentrating more on Bond’s fight with the metal mouthed maniac, Jaws. Of course, Egypt is a tremendous holiday getaway, with beautiful resorts right along the Red Sea Coast.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil A fight on top of a cable car over the amazing city. Moonraker really knew how to showcase Bond’s talents. The busy, bustling city of Rio will offer an unforgettable holiday to a truly exotic destination.

Florida, USA Florida’s Seven Mile Bridge is the centrepiece to one of the big scenes in Licence to Kill. While the rest of the Keys play a part too. There’s even a scene where M demands Bond’s licence, filmed in Ernest Hemingway’s house. You can still tour there today.

Venice, Italy It’s actually been used as a location for a couple of Bond films. The hotel Danieli was especially chosen by Dr Holly Goodhead in Moonraker and you can even order a Vesper Martini at the hotel Bar in honour of Casino Royale. The original romantic getaway, a gondola tour is a must, to impress your other half.

Istanbul, Turkey Ok, we haven’t seen it yet, but Skyfall looks set to be the biggest Bond movie ever. Filmed throughout the gorgeous vibrant streets of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, we’re expecting some amazing high speed chases along with James being his usual charming self. If that’s a bit too chaotic sounding, a walk around the market which sees half a million visitors for day will sort you out.

Purple Tips: Craziest Adventure Holidays

We were well impressed with Felix Baumgartner’s jump, where the Austrian hurled himself out of a space capsule a whopping 24 miles up in the air. Well, when we saw Fearless Felix, we thought we’d like to have a go at it, here’s our run down of some crazy adventure holidays… If that’s what you’re into! Enjoy!

Wife  carryingImage via @ LeahoNeill

Wife Carrying this is not strictly for husbands and wives, but each male competitor must carry a female teammate across a special obstacle track as quickly as possible. There are various techniques including piggyback, fireman’s carry or our personal favourite, Estonian style, where the wife hangs upside down, holding onto her husband’s waist with her legs over his shoulders. It started in Finland but is growing in popularity in the USA.

Zorbing Hop into an inflatable orb, (usually) made of plastic and you’ll be pushed down a nice gentle slope. Not really extreme, but included in this list for its level of unusualness. The first zorbing site was in New Zealand, but it’s spread globally (possible after its use in Gladiators!) and is a hit in Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic and Greece.

Chess Boxing A kind of hybrid sport, chess boxing was invented by a Dutch artist this is one of the craziest ‘adventure holidays’ you could ask for. It’s made up of eleven rounds – six of chess, each lasting four minutes and five rounds of boxing, each three minutes long. Participants have to be as good at boxing as they are at chess. It’s very popular in Berlin and London and growing in places like Los Angeles and Tokyo.

Cheese rolling

Image via @ Mike Warren

Cheese Rolling Take one massive wheel of cheese, throw it down Cooper’s Hill in the Cotswolds, and watch as competitors break arms, legs or teeth trying to catch it. As soon as the cheese is thrown a group of twenty or so participants leap down the steep hill and the first one to cross the finish line wins. The intensity of their injuries is a badge of honour in this case.

Extreme Ironing Not two words you would normally put together, extreme ironing combines the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt, with the white knuckle thrills of extreme outdoor activity. Thrill seekers attempt to iron on tiny mountain tops, in the middle of the M1, while skiing or snowboarding, and even while bungee jumping. From the Florida Quays, to the Netherlands to Australia, this is one sport you’ll be never get board of (wah wah.)

Limbo Skating One for the flexible only, we’re told this is the latest rage in India, where riders wear rollerskates and stretch eye wateringly low to pass under cars. This requires some serious strength and balance.

Volcano Surfing Yes, this is a thing. It is a fairly new sport having just been discovered/invented and sees surfers use a thin layer of plywood or a metal board to travel down a recently erupted volcano. Riders hike to the top and sit, slide or (attempt) to stand on the board all the way down. So far, we’ve only found evidence of this new sport in Nicaragua.

Camel Wrestling If you’re on holidays in Bodrum in Turkey, you have to check this out. After a camel beauty pageant, entrants (the camels) are set on each other to fight it out over a female. It’s actually strictly controlled to protect the animals taking part.

Bog Snorkelling Every year in Wales, crowds gather to watch competitions swim up a 133 metre stretch of bog water, filled with weeds and muck. ‘Nuff said.

Crocodile Bungee Jumping If you’re a bit bored of regular old bungee jumping then this will spice things up a bit. Already a bit of a hit in Oz, croco-bungee sees jumpers hop into water which is home to the snappy animals.

Cliff Diving

Image via @ JohnONolan

Cliff Diving Championed by Felix’s buddies at Red Bull, cliff diving is becoming more and more popular all around the world. Not for the faint hearted, this takes a lot of effort, training and dedication. Spectacular to watch, it’s one of our favourites. In the past few years alone there have been huge competitions in places like the Azores, Yucatan Mexico, the Aran Islands off Ireland, Athens, Greece and plenty more beyond.

Foodie Corner: Istanbul Food Guide

The minute you land in Istanbul you’ll be amazed by its magical atmosphere and beauty, as well as (more importantly?) the smell of spices drifting through the air. The good news is, it’s not difficult to find something tasty to eat in this superb city, we’ve got the the insider’s guide to the best kept foodie secrets in the Turkish capital. Be prepared, the best places to eat are found in dark narrow alleys, on the fourth floor of abandoned looking buildings, without any signs of life. Enjoy our Istanbul Food Guide. And remember, if there’s something we’ve missed please let us know in comments.

Image by @ lwy

Click here to read where to eat like a local: Ibiza and Athens editions.

Kebab

The first and foremost (m)eating you have to taste is the infamous kebab (this is found in a variety of dishes, consisting of grilled or broiled meats, usually lamb or beef, on a skewer or stick). You’ll probably find numerous kebab corners all around the city, but we reckon the best place is to enjoy this delicious meal overlooking the magnificent Golden Horn, Bosphorus and Galata areas. Head for Hamdi Restaurant in Eminonu which has been serving mouthwatering Turkish dishes since the late 60s.

Tip: Make sure that you book a table on the top floor near the big glass window to enjoy the panoramic view.

Manti

These tiny pasta treats (kind of Turkish dumplings) are served with a generous spoonful of yoghurt, melted butter and ground-up red pepper. One of the best places to savour manti is at Marko Pasa restaurant in Taksim. There, the manti are freshly made, right before they’re cooked.

Tip: Highlight of the restaurant is the making of the food in the front window, so that people can watch how they are cooked.

Mussels

Wandering around the city, you’ll find it tough to find a place NOT selling these treats from the sea. It is a cherished treat and that’s something all Turks agree with. Eat them fried with garlic sauce or, even better, stuffed with spicy rice, pine nuts and more rarely with raisins. Mussels are brought to you by a waiter that grates the zest from a lemon right on your dish as it is served. Head for the fish market, Balik Pazari for the tastiest.

Tip: Buying mussels from street vendors is not recommended, because you might be unlucky to experience some side effects, you can probably imagine what we’re getting at.

Baklava

Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. This divine pastry is available in every confectionery, but for the ultimate baklava go to Gulluoglu in Karaköy. There you can taste as many of the twelve different original recipes as you like.

Tip: Ask the shop owners to let you watch the ritual of baklava making. The baklava masters start making the filo pastry by taking an oath on baklava, which is really funny!

Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee is a ritual. Made in a special pot called a cezve, finely ground coffee is boiled, usually with sugar and served in a cup where it’s allowed to settle. (This is a very important bit!) Coffee and drinking it is so important in Turkey, breakfast is known as Kahvalti, literally meaning “before coffee.” While walking to Eyüp, a stop at Pierre Loti café is a must. Have an aromatic Turkish coffee and admire the view over the city and Golden Horn.

Tip: To find your fortune, all you need is a simple cup of coffee. When you’ve finished your cup, tip over the residue onto your saucer and read what the future holds for you.

Ps. If you’re feeling adventurous, the Kokoretsi (actually a Greek speciality, but also served in Turkey) is definitely one to try. Made mainly from goat or lamb intestines, it’s usually wrapped in offal and filled with whatever bits and pieces are available, we’re talking hearts, lungs and kidneys.

Click here to book your cheap holiday to Turkey today.

Purple Hearts… Dalaman Holidays 2014

Purple Hearts… Dalaman Holidays 2014

For most travellers, Dalaman on Turkey’s Southern Aegean coast, is little more than an airport stop for visits to either the beach resorts of Fethiye, the southeast, or Dalyan to the northwest coast. However, it’s definitely worth basing yourself here, particularly if you have transport that will enable you to see the highlights of the region.

Things to do on Dalaman Holidays 2014, Turkey

Take a hike
Take a walk through the Lycian Way to explore the more unspoilt aspects of the region. Between Fethiye and Antalya, the mountains rise steeply from the wooded shoreline and small bays, offering beautiful views and varied walking opportunities. It’s likely that the only other people you are likely to see will be the farmers and goat herdsmen that tend to the pastures each day. The Lycians themselves were a democratic people, with a unique style of art and a luxurious standard of living. Although they absorbed Greek culture, they were later conquered by the Romans. Their graves and ruins abound on the peninsula, which comprises many remote historical sites.

Indulge in a mud bath

The spas in Dalyan are internationally renowned, attracting visitors with their sulphur-rich mud baths. The baths are believed to provide relief from many rheumatic and skin conditions and some have said that a mud bath in Dalyan has even left them looking younger. Either way, this great experience will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed for the remainder of your holiday.

Try your hand at paragliding
On route from Dalaman to Kalkan, you will pass the cliffs above Olu Deniz, where you can find paragliding like you’ve never seen it before. If the idea of jumping from a cliff with another person holding onto you also sounds appealing then Olu Deniz is your new favourite place, particularly as it now hosts for the International Air Games each October.

Party at the Lycian Festival
For three days at the end of June, Kas hosts the annual Lycian Festival. Folk-dancing troupes from Turkey and beyond perform in one of  Dalaman’s largest and most vibrant festivals. The festivities are met with street food, lots of drink and a lively, party atmosphere to the early hours of the morning.

Take a hydrofoil to Rhodes
Taking a hydrofoil trip from Marmaris to Rhodes for the day is a quick and cheap option that gives you more travel for your money. You can also do a similar trip to Kos, but we recommend Rhodes for its historical sites and beautiful tavernas. You don’t need any visas or documentation to take the trip.

Places to see on Dalaman Holidays 2014, Turkey

Kalkan
This stunning, well-maintained fishing village is just south of Fethiye. Its well-facilitated and attractive accommodation, and heaps of first-rate eateries make it a wonderful place to visit. And what’s more, the hotels and shops of the day  become rooftop restaurants at night, providing the perfect spot for viewing the harbour at sunset.

Patara Beach
Patara Beach is nine miles of almost completely deserted golden sands. As it is an archaelogical area, you will be required to pay a small fee to go onto the beach, but thw soft sand and shallow waters will most definitely make it worth the money. You can also head up into the dunes of the Beach, where you’ll find unexcavated Roman ruins such as temples and columns of buildings with sand blowing over them and Marram grass growing in their creeks and crevices.

Myra and Kekova
St Nicholas (the original Father Christmas) was the bishop of Myra. He dropped gifts down the chimney of poor people’s homes so that their daughters would have a dowry upon marriage. He wore a red costume and a red hat (no surprises there) and has been celebrated in the Christmas story ever since.
Nearby, the town of Kekova has a ancient Lycian underwater town that sank beneath the waves after an earthquake. You can hire a canoe and sail over the rooftops and market squares of the old city, the home to hundreds of people.

Where to eat in Dalaman
If you’re staying in the centre of Dalaman, you’ll find a great deal of choice when it comes to where to eat. The numerous restaurants on offer span from the more casual cafe restaurants to the smarter, find dining end of the spectrum. Dalaman is also famed for its tea gardens – a lovely place to spend an afternoon. Try our favourite haunt, the Akkaya Garden for a meal to remember.

Dalaman cuisine
As Dalaman is less touristy than many other parts of Southern Turkey, you will be glad to discover there are no British style pubs and restaurants – it is traditional Turkish here. Turkish cuisine is renowned as one of the world’s best, considered to be one of the world’s three main cuisines due to the variety of its recipes, its use of natural ingredients and its flavours and tastes. A main meal will usually begin with soup and meze (a variety of small cold and hot dishes made for sharing), which is usually made up of Tarama salad, cacik (taziki), dolma (vine leaves or peppers stuffed with rice), börek (pastries) and arnavut ciğeri (cubes of fried liver), but there are many varieties and alternatives. The main course is usually meat or fish, served with çoban salatası, a salad made of tomato, cucumber, parsley and onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. Try a siş kebap (grilled cubes of seasoned meat on skewer), or if you prefer something hot and spicy, try an Adana kebap, made of minced lamb and hot peppers and spices formed around a flat skewer.

Visit our website now for more on cheap Dalaman Holidays 2014.

Purple 10: The sexiest bars in the world

  1. Moon at the PalmsLas Vegas There is colour changing glass tiles, a retractable roof, and you’re in VEGAS, baby!!
  2. 360 Bar, Jumeirah Resort, Dubai Nothing cheesy here, Jumeirah’s 360 club is all about the music, playing cutting edge tunes, with international DJs and themed nights.
  3. Rooftop Tapas BarSan Miguel, Mexico Al fresco dining is the idea here, with the dramatic city views and magnificent sunsets the perfect accompaniment.
  4. Top Mountain Star, Austrian Alps Finish off a day’s skiing with this James Bond-esque bar, right on top of a snowy mountain.
  5. 360 Istanbul, Turkey the hippest bar in Istanbul, the 360 prides itself on its amazing cocktail menu, not to mention the panoramic views.
  6. Woolloomooloo, Central Hong Kong half steakhouse, half bar, all view. This is an unmissable spot if you’re passing through Hong Kong.
  7. The Nest, Nairobi Delicious martinis or scented shishas are the side dishes to the perfect views.
  8. Franco’s Bar, Santorini, Greece Santorini is the home of the ultimate sunset, so what better place to enjoy it than the white terraced rooftop of Francos?
  9. Gravity Bar, Dublin, Ireland This is the most stylish bar in Dublin where you can knock back a pint of the black stuff while enjoying full 360 degree views of the Irish capital.
  10. The Top Bar, Adriana Hotel, Hvar, Croatia Featuring wrap around views of the ancient city, the harbour and the islands, this is one for the sophisticated amongst us

Are we missing something from our list of sexiest bars in the world? Is there a new one that we’ve forgotten this year? Let us know your choice in the comments below.

Purple 10: Weird things stolen from hotel rooms

It’s not just bathrobes that are ripe for the picking, people take all sorts from their hotel rooms… You’ve got to wonder, how did they hide some of these?

After a survey of 500 hotels, 95 percent say they’ve had items stolen by guests, and around one in every ten traveller will take at least one thing that doesn’t belong to them.

A piano like this was taken from the reception of a hotel.

Here’s the weirdest:

  1. A grand piano. Yes, a whole piano was carted down the street by three people dressed in overalls who casually strolled by reception.
  2. A stuffed boar’s head. A hotel in Birmingham went without its billiard room’s main feature, until friends of the shamed guest actually bought it from the hotel as a wedding present.
  3. A Vegas Hotel said entire carpets had been cut and take from one of its rooms.
  4. The sofa and a mini-fridge were taken from a five star hotel in Dubai.
  5. A five star hotel in Madrid went without a whole mattress after a stay by one sticky-fingered guest.
  6. Sex Toys, a hotel in Bath which offers kinky accessories as part of its package, says they often go walkabouts after visits from amorous guests.
  7. Televisions. They have a tough time in hotel rooms, what with getting thrashed by rockers, they’re also one of the most stolen items.
  8. One unfortunate hotel owner had their pet dog stolen! Who would do that!?
  9. Every accessory from an Istanbul hotel room was taken, apart from the bed, the desk and TV, basically everything that wasn’t nailed down.
  10. Miscellaneous: according to reports that have surfaced over the years, there are lots of other, hard-to-categories bits taken from rooms, including a medieval sword and a 4ft wooden bear. Sounds a bit Anchorman, doesn’t it?

A first-timers guide to Hammam

English: This is how most Hammams look like

Hammam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Or how to avoid embarrassment when naked in a foreign country…

This week we’ve discovered the multiple souks, the ancient ruins and even the camel-wrestling tournaments that Turkey has built its reputation upon (please see Purple Hearts… Bodrum for more on that). However, any mention of Turkey would be incomplete without some acknowledgment that it is also the European capital of overly-aggressive exfoliation. You cannot visit Turkey without adding a Hammam to your itinerary. And by that I mean a Turkish bath, not a theatrical Irish mother. In fact, you may say that life itself is never truly fulfilled until you’ve had a good ol’ scrub-down from a hairy, half-naked Turk!

The problem then lies in knowing what exactly to expect. A quick Google search churns up dozens of stories of awkward moments, frightened old ladies and slapped cheeks (n.b. the Turks’, not the customers’). Take this American woman in a bath in Istanbul, for example: “Of all the women in the room — at least 40 — I was the sole person wearing a bra. I originally thought keeping on my bra would help me blend in and be more comfortable, but it was immediately apparent that it did nothing but make me awkwardly stand out. I shamefully slithered back to the locker room and succumbed to Turkish tradition as I shed my black brassiere and my modesty, and I reentered the room full of bare breasts.”Another women’s account from a PR review followed suit: “With three of us to be scrubbed down and only one lady to wash us, everything had to be done in turn. This meant the other two women either played a limited game of ‘I spy’ with the tiled interior of the Hammam or watched the third member of our group being covered in black soap, washed down and then scrubbed vigorously with an abrasive pad while lying down completely naked on the floor.”

Forget Hammer Horror – this is Hammam Horror. The tales of embarrassment are vast and often off-putting and its common to leave feeling like a castrated house pet. However with this Purple Travel guide to Hammam, you’ll know what to expect and can avoid all those red-faced moments:

The turkish bath (hamam) constructed by archit...

1)      Yo mamma’s so old, when she was young, the Dead Sea was only sick.
First of all; knowing which Hammam to go to is half the battle. In Turkish, cockroach literally translates to ‘hamam insect’, so you’ll want to avoid the grimy ones. The most famous is Çemberlitaş Hamamı in Istanbul, built in 1584, but as one of the older establishments, it’s relatively pricey. We recommend Mihrimah Bath in Edirnekapi, Oruculer bath next to the grand bazaar or Kadirga bath, not far from the little Hagia Sophia.

2)      Yo Hammam’s so stupid, she cooked her own complimentary breakfast.
Knowing some Hammam etiquette is vital – take swimwear with you to be prepared. More often than not, the bath will state a ‘dress code’, but it’s best to stand on the side of caution. And although most people do go naked, uncrossing your legs like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct is not advised. On the contrary, avoid lap-eye contact with the other bathers.

Hammam Caretaker

Have you seen this Hammam? Caretaker (Photo credit: upyernoz)

3)      Yo Hammam’s so hairy, Bigfoot is taking her picture.
Before you go, make sure you’ve had a pre-preen. And by this I mean a ‘tidy-up’, unless you’re sure you won’t be offended when you are stared at and offered a wax. Men may not mind this, but women – the Turks are not afraid to tell you if you’re a little unkempt, so wack out the Veet or things may get a little awkward.

4)      Yo Hammam’s so greasy she used bacon as a band-aid.
Swallow your pride, it’s time for the massage. Ladies – don’t go in there expecting some sort of relaxing spa treatment with twinkling candles and white-coated beauty technicians; the Turks will kick your ass. And guys – if this whole endeavor seems homoerotic, think happy thoughts; it is as masculine and normal as a post P.E. communal shower.

5)      Yo Hammam’s so dirty she has to creep up on bathwater.
After the fifteen minute massage, let the cleaning commence. Most of this part will be later blanked out and stored in that part of your subconscious that’s usually reserved for gynecology visits and waiting to pay in Ann Summers. You’ll be maneuvered this way and that, spun around until you can’t stand straight, soaped up like the dirty cocker spaniel and then rinsed down with bowls of hot water. When you come back around, it’s off to the shampoo station for a final, neck-cracking rinse. It’s at this point that you may be solicited for a tip, but this is not necessary and if it comes down to it, just shrug your shoulders and pat your pocket-free hips with a look that says ‘sorry, I would, but I had nowhere to put my change.’

To wrap things up, let’s be blunt about it. It’s clear that youwon’t feel like an adult here, and you definitely won’t feel a man. In fact, it’s difficult to even feel like a human being after being stripped, emasculated and cleaned down like a wet dog. However, no two experiences are alike, and women will be pleased to find that the female bath attendants are far more chivalrous than the men. And all things considered, this is just one of those things you have to do if on holiday in Turkey. You don’t want to return home and tell all your family and friends of how you chickened out on the most defining facet of traditional Turkish culture. So suck it up and get soapy with the best of them.

Purple Hearts: Bodrum Holiday Resort

We started counting on two hands all of the beautiful, adventurous, beachy and sunny places to go in Turkey and well, we completely ran out of fingers (and toes!) There is so much to do in this historic mish-mash of East and West from spending time on the mesmerising beaches to strolling around thousand year old ruins.

Bodrum, picture courtest of GoTurkey.co.uk

There isn’t a place where this is more evident than in the Bodrum holiday resort, which is home to the perfect mix of old and new, ancient and modern, museums and discos. Here’s the latest in our weekly feature with your full guide to Bodrum and its many amazing avenues for fun.

A city of two halves, Bodrum is the site of the famous ancient city of Halikarnassus, one of the old Seven Wonders of the World – but it was destroyed by earthquakes in the Middle ages. A big sailing town, it’s the place where the Turkish elite go to holiday and draws tonnes of British visitors every year. One half of the city is home to beach clubs, bars and cafes, with miles of beaches to choose from while the old side is home to the fancy yachts that sit at the Marina and exclusive shops that stock expensive foods and drink. So let our handy guide help you find out where to go and what to do.

Do

Family affair: If you’re looking to get away with the kids this summer, Bodrum is top notch. Go for an all inclusive option and your little prince or princess will have the time of their lives. Most of the hotels and apartments have pools especially dedicated to little ones, while boat trips, safari jeep adventures, the many beaches and nearby waterpark will leave youngsters itching to come back for more.

Turkish Hamam from Wikipedia

Into cycling? Join a bunch of other biking fanatics and take the cycling high road from Izmir to Bodrum. The tour is organised by a non profit group and led by expert local guides who will bring you along the sea front and lakes and past ancient sites like Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the World.) There’s more info here.

Hamam: Also known as a Turkish bath this is *the* place to go and completely chill out. First thing is a nice sit down in a warmed room, before being scrubbed to within an inch of your life by an attendant who is there just for that reason. If that sounds a little on the groovy side, head for a roll around the nearby mud baths instead.

Nights out: In the immortal words of, erm, Usher, I like to say ‘yeah’ really loudly to the beach clubs and bars of Bodrum. Home of some epic nights out, there are tonnes of clubs to choose from just by the water’s edge. Usually opening around 10, Bodrum’s nightlife is centred on the bars, restaurants and clubs we’re all familiar with in holiday hotspots. It’s actually a nice mix though, of clubs for hardcore party animals and beach bars for a quiet, chilled out drink. Halikarnas is one of our top picks, the outdoor venue is massive, holding around 4,000 people and has some of the best foam parties of the summer.

Haggle: Bodrum’s home to a heap of bazaars open six days a week. There you’ll be able to test your negotiating skills over everything from a needle and thread, to fruit up to beautiful hand painted silk scarves, silver jewellery and leather goods.

Get to the Greek: A quick trip across the water will leave you on the sandy shores of Kos or Rhodes, two of the most famous Greek Islands. These are great for a day trip to spectacular beaches and great lunches.

Huh?

Camel wrestling: Yes, you did read that right. Every year down the Aegean Turkish Coast, the locals like to indulge in the furious sport of camel wrestling. It’s not that well known amongst us, but it should be! The travelling festival starts with a camel beauty pageant (!!) where the entrants are dolled up with bells and banners before moving on to the main event of fighting it out over a female. There are three ways which a winner can be crowned – making the other scream, fall over or retreat.  It may sound very strange, but there are actually strict rules in place to stop a match and protect the animals and all are specifically trained for the event.

See

The pools of Pamukkale

The pools of Pamukkale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pamukkale: is a stunning naturally occurring phenomenon that looks like candy floss. Kids and grownups will get a kick out of a day trip to the mountain where you can take a swim in the hot springs. It’s often said, but a trip to the unique surrounds of Pamukkale will be unforgettable.

Bodrum Castle: The historic building is actually the symbol of the whole region. Built by the Knights of St. John, it’s also home to the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. Far removed from the idea of stuffy old relics, the museum offers plenty of chances to get your hands dirty and features the remains of underwater excavations from all along the coast. It includes the Uluburun Shipwreck, one of the richest ever discovered.

Blues Cruise: Take one of the so called Blue Voyage trips boat trips that give you the chance to leap into the turquoise salty waters of the Aegean. They usually include a trip to secret coves and secluded beaches as well as anchoring in the middle of the water so you can test your swimming skills. If you get one with lunch cooked on board, it makes the perfect day out to top up your tan with minimal effort.

Ballet boost: If you’re lucky enough to be in town in August, you’ll be able to catch the renowned International Bodrum Ballet Festival. From August 8th, you’ll be able to see some stunning performances in the festival which has been running over 10 years.

 Hot

Beach shoes

Bodrum beach: the bit that stretches between Bodrum Castle and Halikarnas is great for swimming and has plenty of loungers but is a little on the pebbly side.

Ortakent: Just down the road from Bodrum town, you’ll find Ortakent, a little beachy beauty spot that’s over a mile long. Considered by many as one of the best on the whole peninsula, it is chock-a-block full of facilities (restaurants, beach bars, changing areas) and that means lots of people too!

Bitez: sheltered by a bay, Bitez tends to draw an older crowd thanks to its gorgeous location backed by tangerine orchards, its gently sloping sands and unbelievably clear waters. Hop in one of the handy dolmus buses and you’ll be there in no time.

Tropical Camel Beach: I’ll admit, I didn’t think I’d ever write something that included so many references to camels, but this one is worth it. It’s usually not so crowded, with a lovely long stretch of sand, plenty of umbrellas and loungers and a handful of delicious fish restaurants. The really great news is here you can actually take a camel ride on a separate part of the beach. Now that’ll make a good profile picture.

Turgutreis: Ideal for little chislers, this beach, although not very sandy, is quite shallow so it’s safer for the little one in your life. It’s also home to a lovely new marina, that is perfect for people watching.

Baklava picture from Wikipedia

Eat

From doner to mezes and baklava to kunefe, Turkish cooking is an absolute treat. Since you’re by the sea, some of the fantastic fish restaurants are not to be missed either. Of course it varies across the country, but Bodrum has its fair shares of great traditional eateries. Have a go of a Dolma (meaning ‘stuffed thing’) which is generally a mix of meat and veggies wrapped in vine leaves or pastry. There are almost too many types of kebabs to count, from steamed to grilled, with meat or vegetarian, spicy or mild, you can’t leave without at least having sampled a few.

Of course no trip to Turkey is complete without a taste of some powerful Turkish coffee. This stuff will knock your socks off! Well, almost as much as the local spirit Raki, with its aniseed flavour. Also known as Lion Milk, that’ll give you an idea of its effects!!

Summer 2012: Turkish delight

Fancy getting away from it all? We’re daydreaming about soaking up the sunshine on the deck of a wooden ship gently bobbing along in the Aegean? Maybe you prefer to lounge by the pool with a good book, before tearing up the dance floor every night? Or perhaps you’d like a quiet little beach break with the kids, where there is plenty of room for their bucket and spade. Whatever you’re looking for, we think Turkey is a top tip.

Turkey’s right on the crossroads where East meets West. It’s bordered by a whopping eight countries and three seas, so you can imagine the choice on offer.

For pure relaxation, first stop should definitely include a Turkish bath, speaking from experience; this is a pretty blissful thing to do. An attendant basically scrubs you from head to toe with a kind of cloth, a bit like an icing bag, followed by a serious massage! If you’re not a fan of massages stay away and head for the many spas or yoga retreats on offer.

If it’s partying you’re after, well, there is no better place than Gumbet.  There are a heap of open air clubs and some even have 24 hour bars so there’s no excuse! Stay up all night, make friends and watch the sunrise outside some of the best beach clubs in the world. Ps. if you check out Gumbet, definitely take advantage of a boat trip to the Greek island of Kos, it’s like two holidays in one!

If you fancy something a little different, a walking holiday in Cappadocia might be right up your street. This strange rock landscape looks a bit like the moon. There are even underground cities and caves to explore. It’ll make your eyes pop!

For foodies, try out the spicy kebabs and famous coffee in the beautiful surrounds of Bodrum or give the meze dishes a go. With a choice of up to 15 at a time, you will definitely find something you will like. Or how about sampling the sights and sounds and grabbing a bargain on a short break in Istanbul.

Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For history buffs, start out with the ancient wonder of Ephesus. Its ancient Temple of Artemis dates back to 550 BC and was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Mount Nemrut offers you the chance to see head statues dedicated to the ancient Gods.

So we think there’s something there to suit almost anyone. If you’ve got any other suggestions for things to do in Turkey, we’d love to hear them. Stay tuned for another country focus coming soon.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Copyright © 2013. Created by Meks. Powered by WordPress.