My Favorite Family Travel Experience of 2015

by farrah on December 2, 2015 · 0 comments

We had another great run this year. By the end of  2015 we will have had 14 visitors from three different countries. On the other side, as a family we saw a bunch of new places and had several memorable experiences. One family travel experience in particular sticks out though, as it was the most unexpected and the least photographed. Basically, I don’t have a single picture of it- and with good reason. So, in order to keep that memory alive I’ll just have to try my best to detail it here.

spaThe hotel advertisement for the spa package. Yes, we did this.

Herftsvakantie in Turkey

Basically that’s fall vacation in Turkey. My ‘most memorable’ family moment was not the time I blew up the range in our Scotland RV, but more of the relaxing variety: the family hamam that we did our second day in Turkey. I have never experienced a true Turkish bath, but when we arrived at the resort I saw an advertisement in the lobby for a full family experience. Spas are a favorite of mine- and the idea of doing one with the whole gang sounded really interesting (notice I say interesting here since I was beyond skeptical. It was my husband’s idea for everyone to do it.).

To start, the five of us went to the spa and were greeted by the ‘host’. He took us to the locker rooms where we stripped down to our bathing suits (bikini required for me) and wrapped us in a thin plaid wrap. From there we went to the area where there were four tanks of those gross fish that eat the dead skin from your feet. Yeah, yeah I know it’s not supposed to be good for you- but it was hilarious. Three boys grasping the concept of these fish nibbling your toes? I had to see what they thought- and wasn’t disappointed by their surprised reactions.

We sat for about fifteen minutes or so and moved on to our next treatment- a stint in the ‘salt room’. Here we were given mesh booties to protect our feet and told not to touch anything. The room was wall to wall, floor to ceiling salt. Something about the virtues of breathing in the air- or whatever, but in this room there was a neon sign in the corner and the boys remarked as to how ‘beautiful’ it all was. Cue the questions- all the questions: ‘What were we suppose to do? Were we supposed to eat the salt? Would it burn our feet? How long are we supposed to sit here? What are we supposed to be DOOOOO INNNNGGGG? ‘.

My husband and I could only look at each other and laugh- as seriously, what else could one expect?

Next up the sweat box. Even with my Finnish heritage on my father’s side- saunas were never my thing. I don’t know what it is, but something about the lack of cool oxygen doesn’t sit with me. So I was a bit leery of the boys going in- but our host said not to put water on the coals, so there wouldn’t be more heat. That was doable. We were only in there a few minutes when the boys were again with the ‘WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BE DOOOOIIINNNGGG?’ because telling two 5’s and a 6 ‘Just sit and relax’ is kind of a non-answer.

After that were the treatments I was really looking forward to- although the ‘peeling’ sounded a little scary. We were ushered into a large room with ornate tiles all around. There were five people in there to perform our treatments- or, erm, our ‘peeling’. In the middle of the room was a large tile rectangle with small drains. They told each of us to take a side and lay down. B and L went to the top and bottom of the rectangle, my husband and I took the right and left side, and C was a bit freaked out and didn’t want to lay on the tile (which was fine and no one pressured him to do anything) so he sat next to my husband.

So there we were, the four of us lying along a giant rectangle that was about waist high and the spa people started using bowls to douse us with water.  We were scrubbed with rough cloths while continually soaked with water. It was all very strange- but at the same time relaxing- so much so that the boys all stopped giggling and just went with it. The water drenching went on and on, and then finally the spa people moved on to the next step- the foam massage.

Foam party. The workers had these large cloth ‘bags’ that they filled with soap and ran through water. They would swoop the bag around to fill it with air, and then squeegee the mass of foam onto us- then rub us down with the rough gloves. At this point- I thought how funny this must be for the boys since they were buried in bubbles.

The foam bubble deluge seemed to last forever, and I thought it must be what the ‘massage’ portion was- until we were finally rinsed off and towel dried. The boys were mightily confused by now, and I told them that we weren’t done yet! Our host took us to our personal massage rooms- where we went in and lay down on a table. The walls had open middle sections so you could see the person next to you and I could watch the boys.

I kept my ear trained to listen for them- and they were in fact done about 30 minutes before my husband and I. I could hear them sitting in the ‘relax’ room whispering to each other asking ‘WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BE DOOOIINNGGG?’ and discussing the lack of excitement in the ornamental fish tanks.

My husband and I finished with our massages and turned around to join our boys in the lounge. When I looked at them I cursed myself for not having my phone: On one large lounger were my three boys swaddled in towels with turbans on their heads and mud masks on their faces. They were sitting quietly with their eyes closed- clearly getting the hang of this whole thing at last. Adorable doesn’t even begin to describe it.

My husband and I each took a lounger, were given the mud mask and sat back to relax. Our spa host brought the boys ice cream sundaes and two hours after starting this adventure I couldn’t help but ask them ‘So, what did you think??!!!!’ Their unanimous response: ‘It was ok. But it was boring.’

GAH. Doesn’t matter though- it’s still my favorite memory from 2015. I was well suckered into the spa’s plan and proceeded to sign up for four more massages during our stay. Talk about a great way to drum up business.


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