Did you enjoy my story about the hammam? I mean, it was certainly an experience. Right?
Anyway, after we finished at the bath, we wandered around the Turkish side of the city, eating in a random bookstore cafe and going to see the whirling dervishes, which sounds really cool but in actuality is a bunch of men twirling in circles for hours at a time.
The Turkish side is so so different from the Greek. I can’t stress that enough.
In the evening Harrison and I went to Pivo Microbrewery, had a few drinks (and he ate a literal rack of ribs), and then wandered down to a bar so he could teach me how to play backgammon.
I’m not going to say he was going easy on me. But I will say that I won a few times. I prefer to think of it as my own cleverness and expertise.
The next day we spent entirely on the Greek side, wandering into an abandoned art district near the wall, which was utterly surreal as it was a sunny Saturday and literally no one was around.
We ended up playing more backgammon, eating Oreo cheesecake (authentic Greek Oreo cheesecake) and having a wonderful time before heading to the airport and flying our separate ways.
As I told you guys yesterday, we crammed as many things as possible into our two day trip to Nicosia, which meant that on Friday we rose bright and early in order to make the most out of our time in Cyprus.
One of the first things we did was head to the Turkish side, which is radically different from the Greek side. To put it simply, the Greek side is European, with all the normal chains, stores, and brands that you’d expect to see strewn across Europe. In contrast, the Turkish side is decidedly foreign, with small shops shoved everywhere and boatloads of Ray-Bons, Guci, and Louise Viton for sale at very good prices.
They also have a famous Turkish Hammam, one of two in the city, which we stumbled upon and decided, “Hey, when in Rome!”
We walked in and it happened to be mixed hour, so we paid up, got our covering cloths, and made our way down to the hammam itself.
So. It’s a bath, right? You shower yourself and get all sudsy and everything. And it’s public, right? Well, they gave Harrison a pair of shorts about the length of regular swim trunks. Me? I got the standard covering cloth, which covered the very top of my bottom and the very bottom of my top. And nothing more.
So in we walk, him all comfortable and confident and me hunched over like a troll to make sure all my bits stay covered. It’s pretty empty, just one other man, and we head to one of the separate areas to start bathing. It’s going pretty well, I’m relaxing and everything, and when we finish we head to the heated marble plinth to await a scrubbing from a formidable Turkish woman.
As we’re laying there more people wander in. Excuse me, more men wander in. It is mixed hour, after all. And one of these men, upon seeing us lying there, gets this huge grin on his face and comes to lie down.
He lowers himself to the marble, his teeny cloth tucked betwixt his legs, and props his head on his hand. He’s utterly at his ease, this jovial Turkish man for whom the hammam is a normal part of life. He’s like a Greek god with a beer belly, and his roving eyes keep flicking between Harrison and I, working as he tries to puzzle out our relationship.
Fortunately, a few minutes later the woman comes in for my scrubbing, and she proceeds to scour me until I have absolutely no skin left. She also asks me to flip over to my back without a covering on my front, which I do while acutely aware of my nakedness. Luckily nobody but her was watching, but damn if it wasn’t uncomfortable.
After I was done, Harrison took his turn, and she was much nicer to him, not forcing him to be naked whatsoever, a fact that I will envy forever.
Afterwards we changed back into our clothes and headed out, cleaner, more cultured, and grinning with glee at our luck of stumbling into the hammam.
Also, Harrison took a surprise photo of me walking out of the hammam, which he hates and I use to torture him, because it’s a constant reminder of how seriously dorky I am. Enjoy.
I’m back in Scotland now, and will be for the next two weeks while I take my final exams. Egypt was a great experience, but I will admit that I almost cried when we landed back in the western world. Home.
So, I’m here for two weeks and then I’m off back to California for another few weeks. After that…a trip to Vietnam! I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go (hence not having said anything), but things have just gotten finalized so I’ll be spending a couple weeks there before interning in the Middle East over the rest of the summer. I’m really looking forward to it, and have some awesome things planned.
But! Before we get onto that, I have a few other things to tell you guys about.
Mid-April Harrison and I met up in Cyprus, which was great because we hadn’t seen each other since the Maldives in January. (Way too long, in my opinion). We stayed in Nicosia, which bills itself as “the last divided capital,” because the city (and Cyprus itself) is fought over between Turkey and Greece. Thus, the city has a gigantic wall going down the middle of it, and one half is Greek, while the other is Turkish. This makes for some really interesting border control experiences (though neither side will stamp your passport, which is really too bad).
Since we only had a weekend in Cyprus, we crammed in as many things as possible. And that included a visit with Eleana and Cameron, two of my classmates (who weren’t in Egypt), who just happened to be vacationing in Cyprus the days that we were there. So we met up, drank entirely more than was sensible, and had a blast.
Around 2am, Harrison and I ended up in a cab for the hour long ride to our hotel and fell asleep halfway through. Luckily, we made it, and I said a quick prayer for my wallet as I remembered how much things cost outside of Egypt.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you guys about our first day in Cyprus, which was super long and included a trip to a Turkish hammam, whirling dervishes, dinner at a microbrewery, and backgammon over shisha.