Egirdir : 'Nothin' a Little Bit of Soap and Water Can't Sort Out'
Egirdir Travel Blog› entry 200 of 268 › view all entries
Thwack! âOof! I say?!â. Iâm pretty certain thatâs 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 Manâs 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 travellerâs mind convince me that itâs Monica Belucci and not a fat hairy Turk whoâs doing the rubbing of the suds in close proximity to me spuds. Such daydreams right now could lead to an embarrassing situation ofâŠ wellâŠ 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 Grandmotherâs loft; part of my fatherâs childhood egg collection that I used to be so proud to display to my classmates at âshow ânâ tellâ. The steam rises.
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 GĂ¶lĂŒ (lake), Egirdir GĂ¶lĂŒ and Beysehir GĂ¶lĂŒ that comprise Turkeyâs so-called âLake Districtâ. Being as the famous rose crops of Isparta are out of season and Iâm 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 Turkeyâs second largest fresh water lake.
By way of a little introduction hereâs a little history of the area - well, its name at least - purloined from the very informative âGuest Informationâ book at Charleyâs Pansion : âIt used to be called Acrotiri in the Byzantine era meaning âpromontoryâ.
A tale no less. Take it or leave it, although the 468 kilometre square lakeâs water level is apparently falling year upon year owing to large cracks in its basin, so maybe the princeâs 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 takinâ it easy. A stroll around the town and its modest collection of sights.
In the hot morning sun I make a slow circuit of Yesilada ( âGreen Islandâ ) the small tourist accommodation and restaurant choked island that sits in Lake Egirdirâs waters just a 5 minute walk along an artificially constructed causeway. Families are here for midday picnics âby the beachâ 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 Iâm over-impressed by.
On one of my lakeside evenings I take myself for a stroll up the flanks of Sivri Dagi ( âSharp Mountainâ ) 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 yĂ¶rĂŒk or ânomadâ 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 Iâve yet employed on my travels.
On arrival in Akpinar I dismount and thank my friends. My bones gently settle back into place as I stroll around fielding âHello! Hello! Wass your name?â (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.
So that all thatâs left to do is, well, relax some more really. And so itâs off to the hamam I go as my final evening in Egirdir draws in. Descending the steps to the teeny camekan (reception room) Iâm ushered through a door which then leads to another and into the central bath room. My glasses steam over instantly and I canât 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. Iâm 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.
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. Iâve already had one bath tonight thanks!