Egirdir : 'Nothin' a Little Bit of Soap and Water Can't Sort Out'

Egirdir Travel Blog

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My first view of Lake Egirdir

Thwack!  ‘Oof! I say?!’.  I’m pretty certain that’s the first time in my life to have been struck across me bare buttocks by another man with a wet, soapy towel.  I never made the rugby, soccer or hockey teams.  Nor did I attend boarding school.  But lying on my front, naked but for a strip of towel to cover my modesties, in the steamy bowels of the Egirdir local hamam (or Turkish Bath house) this is apparently the sign for me to turn over onto my back.  Having done so, the Stranger Man’s hands start to ply their slippery way up my inner thighs.  Following the blissful torture of the foot massage (I really never remembered being that ticklish down there!) I practically have to bite my knuckles once again to stop myself from writhing with ticklishness and being wracked with fits of giggles.

 

I roll my eyes to the ventilated ceiling of the hamam and try not to let my sex-starved, steam-drugged traveller’s mind convince me that it’s Monica Belucci and not a fat hairy Turk who’s doing the rubbing of the suds in close proximity to me spuds.  Such daydreams right now could lead to an embarrassing situation of… well… a certain scale shall we say.  I focus hard upon the cracked plaster convex dome of the hamam.  With its dirt speckled pale turquoise blue colour it calls to mind the fragile blackbird and robins eggs that sit swaddled in decades old cotton wool in rusty old tins in my Grandmother’s loft; part of my father’s childhood egg collection that I used to be so proud to display to my classmates at ‘show ‘n’ tell’.  The steam rises.

  The hands rise.  'Yelp!' My memories drift away…

Yes, relaxing times are had in Egirdir, the middle of three principle towns ( Isparta and Beysehir to either side of it) that sit respectively beside the three bodies of water, Burdur Gölü (lake), Egirdir Gölü and Beysehir Gölü that comprise Turkey’s so-called ’Lake District‘.  Being as the famous rose crops of Isparta are out of season and I’m after a little peace and quiet it is to the smaller, reputedly more charming retreat of Egirdir that I head and soon extend my stay by a day or so, so happy am I just to unwind by the bright blue waters of Turkey’s second largest fresh water lake.

By way of a little introduction here’s a little history of the area - well, its name at least - purloined from the very informative ’Guest Information’ book at Charley’s Pansion :  ‘It used to be called Acrotiri in the Byzantine era meaning “promontory”.

The area around the towns of İsparta and Egirdir are famous foır their annual rose harvests.
  This was later changed to the Turkish name Egridir with the unfortunate meaning of “it’s bent”.  In the mid-1990s, the residents, tired of the jokes, changed the name to Egirdir [ did you spot the subtle difference folks? ], which has the more satisfactory name meaning “she is spinning”.  This new name fits in with a local legend :  In the past, when there was no lake in the mountains, the Queen was spinning while the young prince was out hunting with bow and arrow.  He shot at a deer, but the animal ran away and the arrow hit a large stone which shattered, releasing a torrent of water which drowned the prince.  The lake was formed.  The grieving King said to his wife ’Egirdir!  Sen Egirdir!  Oglun öldü.
  Sen ne yapiyorsun hala?’.  ( ’Spinning!  You are spinning!  Your son is dead.  Just what are you doing?’ ).

A tale no less.  Take it or leave it, although the 468 kilometre square lake’s water level is apparently falling year upon year owing to large cracks in its basin, so maybe the prince’s arrows really did strike too hard and deep after all!

Lake Egirdir is a very attractive place to unwind for a day or so or more.  Whilst a greater reserve or energy (and the required enthusiasm) could open up great options for trekking (the final stretch of the 500km St. Paul Trail runs past the lake) and maybe cycling around the sizeable circumference of the lake I pretty much settle for takin’ it easy.  A stroll around the town and its modest collection of sights.

'Quack quack quack!' :)
  The empty calm of The Hizir Bey Camii (Mosque) with its wooden support columns, quaintly mismatched carpet of carpets (if that makes sense?) and ’walk through’ minaret to pass under.  The latter apparently a bit of an architectural rarity.  The ruins of the 5th Century founded Egirdir castle are present also.

In the hot morning sun I make a slow circuit of Yesilada ( ’Green Island’ ) the small tourist accommodation and restaurant choked island that sits in Lake Egirdir’s waters just a 5 minute walk along an artificially constructed causeway.  Families are here for midday picnics ’by the beach’ whilst I take note of the last fading roses of the season and the little trio of white ducks that seem to follow my progress about the place.  Entering the lakes waters later on after a session of bag-saving sewing maintenance is not an experience I’m over-impressed by.

Egirdir Stevie
  The rocky lake floor is so darned ridiculously slippery with algal growth on the stones that by the time I flounder out far enough to set myself adrift without twisting my ankle my mood for a paddle’s been a little bit dampened shall we say.               

On one of my lakeside evenings I take myself for a stroll up the flanks of Sivri Dagi ( ’Sharp Mountain’ ) the rocky pinnacle that sits behind Egirdir and reaches to about 1,750 metres above sea level.  Egirdir itself sits at 916 metres.  A largely tarmac road 3km away from the centre of town sees me beginning my way up towards the little yörük or ‘nomad’ village of Akpinar.  Sweating and huffing away, about half way up two local farmers take pity on me and offer me a lift in what is definitely the strangest means of transportation I’ve yet employed on my travels.

Davraz Dagı (İ think?)
  A small blue hydraulic tray attached to the back of their little tractor is lowered to a couple of inches about road level and I am invited to step in and sit down.  What follows is an extremely bumpy, jolty but hilarious lift to the top.  The shuddering, juddering hard-to-focus views of Lake Egirdir are great.

On arrival in Akpinar I dismount and thank my friends.  My bones gently settle back into place as I stroll around fielding ‘Hello! Hello! Wass your name?’ (the most common kiddy refrain to be heard throughout Turkey apart from 'Moneymoneymoney!' when you get to the East) and manoeuvring around cud chewing cows.  The main inhabitants of these streets it seems.

Egirdir Castle
  Past this tiny village’s cute little rainbow-glass topped mosque minaret a short stroll brings me to a great little restaurant-come-çay-house ( Akpinar Senyi Terras ) that accommodates a slew of tables and chairs that perch higgledy-piggledy down a section of the mountain side offering quite wonderful views of the lake and the distant strip of causeway with Yesilada at its tip.  I sit and read and try for the first time Ayran, a salted yogurt drink popular in turkey (quite refreshing if homemade such as here but diabolically over salty and wince-inducing when bought in pots from shops) and also gözleme; savoury pancakes containing fine minced meat, cheese, chopped onion and shredded potato.  Strolling back down towards town a car pulls over and a kind pair of lads and their elderly mom give me a ride the remainder of the way.

So that all that’s left to do is, well, relax some more really.  And so it’s off to the hamam I go as my final evening in Egirdir draws in.  Descending the steps to the teeny camekan (reception room) I’m ushered through a door which then leads to another and into the central bath room.  My glasses steam over instantly and I can’t see a darned thing.  A voice from a now invisible source welcomes me and advises me where and what to do to get started.  Blinded as I am this introduction is somewhat akin to communing with spirits as the lights shine blindingly through the steamy glaze of my spectacles.     

Overall I found the experience pleasant but not life changing.  I’m no massage expert.  Criminally I managed seven weeks in Thailand without subjecting my bones to one skeleton cracking session and passed up promising opportunities in Laos too.

:))) My tractor ride hitchhike up to Akpınar
  My best friend used to be keen to administer massages back in Uni days but as I was often too English and reticent to tell her so, these could be and remained quite bruising affairs (literally) fondly referred to as ’massacres’ rather than massages.  Today’s effort by my fat hairy Turk (Monica Belucci was on her day off sadly) is clearly well practised and not displeasing but errs a little too far toward the ticklesome rather than the mildly brutal but invigorating drubbing ‘n’ rubbing I’d expected.  That said, a particular ‘steam roller’ squeeze along the spine with his whole arms length definitely elicits a good grimace of pain.  One of my Israeli co-massees (yep, another dreadful word invented and inflicted upon you by The Wes-meister to the consternation of my Spellchecker) later describes this moment as ‘traumatic’ as we sit wrapped in patterned towels sipping our post-pampering çays.
Ayran drink and gozleme pancake

Back up the stairs.  Back out of the heat into the cool evening air.  Steamed, cleaned and exfoliated.  A new man?  Well, no, not quite.  But a good few layers of travel coarsened skin have probably been shed in the process which can only be a good thing.  Back in the open the elements conspire against my new sense of bone deep cleanliness as a baby storm is puttering and whirling about the vicinity, tossing leaves and litter, and much dust into my hair whilst deciding whether it can be bothered to grow into full-blown howler or not.  Lightening flashes encouragingly at the far shores of the lake but, a warning drop or two of rain aside, the deluge never comes.  Good.  I’ve already had one bath tonight thanks!       

sheba124 says:
Go ahead treat yourself.
Posted on: Sep 09, 2009
Stevie_Wes says:
Yeah the Hamam was pretty cool (in a hot sweaty way of course!) Maybe one more in my final week in İstanbul. We shall see :)
Posted on: Sep 08, 2009
sheba124 says:
yes gotta enjoy the hamam.. I remember my experience in Turkey and in Morocco
Posted on: Sep 07, 2009
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My first view of Lake Egirdir
My first view of Lake Egirdir
The area around the towns of İspa…
The area around the towns of İsp…
Quack quack quack! :)
'Quack quack quack!' :)
Egirdir Stevie
Egirdir Stevie
Davraz Dagı (İ think?)
Davraz Dagı (İ think?)
Egirdir Castle
Egirdir Castle
:)))  My tractor ride hitchhike up…
:))) My tractor ride hitchhike u…
Ayran drink and gozleme pancake
Ayran drink and gozleme pancake
High up views of Lake Egirdir from…
High up views of Lake Egirdir fro…
Sun slowlysetting over pretty Lake…
Sun slowlysetting over pretty Lak…
Muffled quack! ;)
'Muffled quack!' ;)
İnterior of the main mosque in to…
İnterior of the main mosque in t…
Egirdirs apparently quite unique w…
Egirdirs apparently quite unique …
Akpınar Mosque
Akpınar Mosque
Donkey & Lake
Donkey & Lake
İ actually sat in the little blue…
İ actually sat in the little blu…
Egirdir sundown
Egirdir sundown
Egirdir
photo by: Stevie_Wes