The sunrise in Cappadocia is never, ever something you want to miss. Being in such a dry, arid climate, it is a given that it is always pretty, but more than that, and because of that, there is a thriving industry for early morning hot air balloon rides over this historied land, which happens to provide for an exponentially more picturesque view of the sunrise, being as it is mottled and highlighted by dozens of colorful aerostats. Ideally, the best way to take advantage of this extraordinary circumstance is to actually book a ticket and go up in one of the balloons, but seeing as how the price is equally extraordinary, upwards of $300 USD per person, we opted for the much more economic option of waking up early and schlepping ourselves up to the rooftop patio of the hotel for a, let’s say satisfactory view. I will take this opportunity to point out that for us, traveling is always a delicate dance between prudent thriftiness and unbridled expenditure- in this case we all agreed that our collective twelve hundred dollars could buy something far more memorable than an hour up in a wicker basket. Personally, based on the photos, I am happy that we chose to view this spectacle from the ground.
After the slightly too early balloon viewing party, we… all went back to bed. But then, a few hours later, we got up and were ready for our final day in Cappadocia: a day at the spa. Or hamam to be more precise. This was the first time any of us had been to a Turkish bath, and actually the first time I had ever been to any sort of masseuse, Turkish or otherwise. Boy was I in for a treat, a real treat. You start with a deceptively relaxing lay on a big stone pedestal in a hot steamy room, apparently so you can sweat it out a bit and dehydrate yourself before the actual message. Then, each person is called, one by one, through the door of the hamam to meet their fate, I mean masseuse. Meanwhile, the remaining patrons in the sweat room are completely clueless to what is about to befall their unlucky friend, and them too in short order. I like to think of it as the same scenario that is played out in hundreds of slaughter houses across the country each day- the doe eyed cows patiently waiting for their turn to walk through the gates, to their unwitting doom.
To say that the two unassuming gentleman working that day were merely doing their job would be the understatement of the year- no, they enjoyed it, they thrived on it, they took immense pleasure in knowing that they were causing you so much pain. They weren’t masseuses, they were sadists! I never knew so much pain could be inflicted by a pair of thumbs and a loofa sponge! It was a miracle I was able to walk out of there I was so tender and bruised. And to think, I had walked in to there voluntarily. The rest of my crew didn’t have quite the same take from the experience as I did, some of them quite enjoyed it actually, but for me, and my delicate uninitiated muscles, it was nothing less than a torture chamber. Travelers beware, the Hamam is nothing to joke about!