Everyone from my mother to random internet bloggers warned us about going to Turkey for our honeymoon. It seems that in the midst of Kurdish bombings and headscarf upheavals, our friends and family didn’t think it would be an ideal honeymoon destination for two blue-eyed Americans. Advice ranged from, “Tell everyone you’re Canadian!” to “Bring your own toilet paper—those people are savages!” After making a few deals with ourselves and a little gamble with the state department website, we decidedly pushed on and found ourselves on a plane to Istanbul a few weeks ago.
I’ve done a terrible job about blogging in real time lately, but I’ve really been having a hard time wrapping my mind around our honeymoon adventure. Most couples find themselves on a beach sipping daiquiris after tying the knot, which is romantic in its own right, but what we found so incredibly amorous about traveling to Turkey, was that we had to rely on each other to make it a successful trip.
Our companionship allowed us to get lost traveling hidden streets and work our way through menus by trading dishes when one of us accidentally ordered sheep intestines. It was a great way to begin a partnership and it will be trip that will remain one of the most intense and beautiful journeys I have ever taken.
Similarly to most European cities, Istanbul has no shortage of English speaking service people. We stayed in old town Istanbul where we blended in fine with other tourists taking in the sites and there was not one moment where we weren’t greeted with a “yes, please!” by eager carpet salesmen and vendors. The people were the most generous and passionate individuals I have ever encountered.
I was even able to cross something off of my life list. It will be hard to beat a sunrise from a hot air balloon over Cappadocia.
Not such a bad trip for two blue eyed Americans—until we went to the Turkish bath. While B enjoyed a semi-emasculating setting, similar to what he might find in the local Y, I had a much different experience.
Not once on our entire trip was I asked if I was an American, until that morning in the bath. Internet, I wouldn’t be ugly as homemade sin unless I revealed something nitty gritty: I have pubic hair. And the topless lady with a mustache at the hammam tried to take it. As I timidly flipped over to face my bather, she immediately noticed something was awry. “Ah! American! American!” she shouted, loud enough to attract the attention of everyone in steam room. “I just whish whish. Whoosh whoosh!” she proclaimed as she gestured a ripping movement towards my crotch region repeatedly for 15 minutes.
“I am Canadian!” I shouted back—and successfully avoided a Brazilian wax.
Clearly, there are no photographs from that particular day. But it remains our only Turkish experience that I wouldn’t repeat.