November 15, 2015

I Say I Want a Revolution

non judgement, revolution, happiness I want to start a revolution. A non judgement revolution where people are free to define and live their own happiness.

North America is an extremely judgemental place to live. Who wore it better? Who has the best house? Who gained weight? Who looks younger? Who has the best job/partner/life? As a society we are consistently judging other people on how they live their lives. I am asking for your help, we have to make this stop.

Many of Hollywood’s top actresses have chosen not to have children and they fight a continuous battle of defending their choice. Oprah, Ellen, Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz, Kim Cattrall to name just a few. These are talented, driven women who have remained successful in an increasingly competitive and fickle industry. They have won awards, travelled the world, created empires, volunteered and donated millions of dollars yet continue to be asked if they feel incomplete for not having children. Why must they have children to be considered whole? It’s because it’s part of the recipe.

The recipethe North American ideal for success:

-go to post secondary

-get a ‘good’ job

-get married

-buy a house

-have children

-work hard

-retire

There you have it folks. Follow these simple steps and you too are guaranteed a life of happiness. While I do believe that this can be happiness for some, it is impossible to believe it is for EVERYONE. That is like saying there is only one recipe for dessert – vanilla cake. If you want dessert you must follow this recipe. That’s boring. People’s passions, dreams and interests are far to varied to be expected to fit into a one size fits all mold of happiness. Many are realizing this and are making their own adjustments to the recipe. The problem is when they deviate from the original they are judged by society.

A women in her mid thirties who did not go to post secondary, works as a server. She has been in the service industry for 15 years and is incredibly good at what she does. She has bought her own car, her own house and has an impressive financial portfolio. Despite all this people ask her when she is going to get a ‘real job.’ She loves her job, why is it not considered real?

Another women has her masters degree and a very successful career. She is exceedingly motivated and holds a position of someone at least ten years her senior. She owns her own house, her own luxury vehicle, and her own membership to a country club. She likes to travel for 2-20 weeks at a time. She is asked when she will ‘grow up’ and settle down and stop with the travelling. Why must she stop when it’s her greatest passion?

Another example, a twenty something, very successful young man works an incredibly challenging and thankless job with children and youth. He works hard and has forged ahead in his career with a rare combination of heart and determination. His job requires a level of giving that not many possess. He is scrutinized when he says he does not want to have children. He is called selfish and childish and told that he will change his mind someday. How is that fair?

A mother of two incredible girls, volunteers at her church, is extremely involved in her community and her children’s school as well as taking care of her house and large property. She is looked down upon when she answers stay at home home Mom to the question ‘what do you do?’ From six in the morning until ten at night she is working, investing everything she has into the future of her family. Sadly she is made to feel inferior to women with careers.

I am sure you have judged and have been judged. Neither one makes you feel good.

I am guilty of judgement. I used to question why anyone would get tired down to a 25 year mortgage, a life of debt for for some brinks and mortar? Why are they ruining their lives getting married so young? Why do you work so much? Why don’t you travel more? Judge. Judge. Judge. Judge. I finally realized that people do not want to live my life any more then I want to live theirs.

One way is not better than the other. That’s the thing about life, as long as you are happy living it, it’s the right choice. We have to respect and appreciate the diversity of life without judgement. Everyone has their own path to forge and while you do not have understand or even like another’s path you do not have the right to condemn it for not being like the one you choose.

We need to stop trying to compartmentalize life. No one should ever have to hear “Why don’t you….

get married

have kids

get a ‘real’ job,

travel more/less?”

Happiness is subjective and is unique as our fingerprint. Embrace the diversity.

Will you join me on the revolution or are you going to eat vanilla cake forever?

“WHEN YOU JUDGE ANOTHER, YOU DO NOT DEFINE THEM, YOU DEFINE YOURSELF.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

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Written Exclusively for Undolus

Broken heart, dating, single life, on line dating, trust, heart broken, Baggage, Start Small, Let it Go, Support, Female support, Undolus, Take Time, Trust Yourself, You know the feeling. It’s like someone drove a Mac truck into your stomach and parked it there. Your head is spinning and it’s nearly impossible to focus. Nothing in your world makes sense and you would like nothing more than to build a cocoon around yourself and shut out the world. It’s the pain of a broken heart. At one time or another, we have all felt it. Once the agony subsides and you can see clearly again you are left facing one very important question. How do I trust again after having my heart broken? Read More… 

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The Traveling Waitress Recommends:

Greece
 Europe, Mediterranean, Greece, travel, acropolis, Athens, Santorini, Oia, Fira, greek islands, greek food, Plaka, Dalphini hotel, Karmari beach, black beach, Ydria, cecil, museum, acropolis museum, Kandori Restaurant, wine, santowines, Thira, travel, travel Greece, Things to do in Greece, tips for Greece

Santorini (Thira):

The beauty of this island can only be matched by the charm of it’s people. I recommend staying in Oia (pronounced Ee-ah) it’s less crowed than Fira (the main city) and has the most beautiful sunsets in the world.

The public buses are a great way to get around the island and only cost 1.50 euro. You really don’t have to do anything on this island except sit on a balcony and experience the awe-inspiring view. If you do want to venture out, here are a few other things I suggest: Go to Kamari, the black beach, and collect real pumice stone from the shore. Snorkel, almost anywhere off the island. Go sailing, either with a tour or rent a boat yourself. Go on a wine tour; Santo wines is the one I suggest as it has the most breathtaking view of the caldera on the island. Sipping wine while enjoying that view almost guarantees that you will never want to leave. www.santowines.gr

Europe, Mediterranean, Greece, travel, acropolis, Athens, Santorini, Oia, Fira, greek islands, greek food, Plaka, Dalphini hotel, Karmari beach, black beach, Ydria, cecil, museum, acropolis museum, Kandori Restaurant, wine, santowines, Thira, travel, travel Greece, Things to do in Greece, tips for GreeceTW Suggests staying at: Delfini Pension in Oia is a small run pension, Rena and Siuia are the two nicest and most helpful women and are sure to make your stay special. There is a rooftop patio complete with hot tub.

Europe, Mediterranean, Greece, travel, acropolis, Athens, Santorini, Oia, Fira, greek islands, greek food, Plaka, Dalphini hotel, Karmari beach, black beach, Ydria, cecil, museum, acropolis museum, Kandori Restaurant, wine, santowines, Thira, travel, travel Greece, Things to do in Greece, tips for GreeceTW Suggests eating at: The bakery across the white marble street from Delfini. They bake fresh treats daily, a perfect way to start your day.  Also across the white marble street and to the left is a cafe with amazing lattes and the most decedent chocolate lava cake you can imagine. For a nice dinner out, try Kandouni Restaurant and Bar www.kandouni.com

Europe, Mediterranean, Greece, travel, acropolis, Athens, Santorini, Oia, Fira, greek islands, greek food, Plaka, Dalphini hotel, Karmari beach, black beach, Ydria, cecil, museum, acropolis museum, Kandori Restaurant, wine, santowines, Thira, travel, travel Greece, Things to do in Greece, tips for Greece

Athens:

You really don’t need to spend more than 2-3 days in Athens, unless you are a history buff in which case you could spend weeks. No matter what, you have to see the Acropolis. Standing amongst this ancient fortress while staring out at the modern city of Athens, you feel as if you are caught between two times. Not being huge on museums, I do highly recommend that you visit the Acropolis Museum after visiting the Acropolis. It will put everything you have just seen into context and also has a stunning view of the fortress. www.theacropolismuseum.gr . The Plaka is the oldest area in Athens and is mostly open only to pedestrian traffic. It is a good place to find souvenirs, restaurants and cafes.

Europe, Mediterranean, Greece, travel, acropolis, Athens, Santorini, Oia, Fira, greek islands, greek food, Plaka, Dalphini hotel, Karmari beach, black beach, Ydria, cecil, museum, acropolis museum, Kandori Restaurant, wine, santowines, Thira, travel, travel Greece, Things to do in Greece, tips for GreeceTW Suggests staying at: Cecil Hotel www.cecil.gr which is within walking distance of The Acropolis and the Plaka with nice spacious rooms. Breakfast is included. It also has a rooftop terrace with a haunting view of the Acropolis which is lit up at night. (If you are lucky your room will have the same view).

TW Suggests eating at: If you are looking for traditional Greek food at a great price, The Hani in the Plaka serves huge portions of fresh cooked food. Also in the Plaka, Ydria cafe-restaurant has a good menu and a beautiful courtyard patio, great for a mid afternoon latte. www.ydria.gr

Europe, Mediterranean, Greece, travel, acropolis, Athens, Santorini, Oia, Fira, greek islands, greek food, Plaka, Dalphini hotel, Karmari beach, black beach, Ydria, cecil, museum, acropolis museum, Kandori Restaurant, wine, santowines, Thira, travel, travel Greece, Things to do in Greece, tips for Greece

Food you should try in Greece: Real Greek salad~ fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives and feta cheese ~ so fresh. Saganaki cheese (fried cheese), moussakas (sautéed eggplant, tomato and minced meat), yoghurt with honey (Greece promotes the best honey in the world), Baklava (a dessert made from layers of filo pastry filled with nuts and sweetened with honey, Ouzo (liqueur with a black liquorish taste).

Europe, Mediterranean, Greece, travel, acropolis, Athens, Santorini, Oia, Fira, greek islands, greek food, Plaka, Dalphini hotel, Karmari beach, black beach, Ydria, cecil, museum, acropolis museum, Kandori Restaurant, wine, santowines, Thira, travel, travel Greece, Things to do in Greece, tips for GreeceTipping ~ 10% -20% for servers if there is no service charge on the bill. For taxi’s just round the fair up.

IGNORANCE IS NOT AN EXCUSE! KNOW THE TIPPING CUSTOMS OF A COUNTRY YOU ARE VISITING.

Have a tip about Greece let me know! thetravelingwaitess@gmail. com @travlnwaitress

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Europe, Mediterranean, Greece, travel, acropolis, Athens, Santorini, Oia, Fira, greek islands, greek food, Plaka, Dalphini hotel, Karmari beach, black beach, Ydria, cecil, museum, acropolis museum, Kandori Restaurant, wine, santowines, Thira, travel, travel Greece, Things to do in Greece, tips for Greece

 

 

Written exclusively for Undolus

I had to focus on breathing. I could hear what my roommate was saying but the words were fading into the background as the drum beat of my heart grew louder. The whole world around me began to slow down as my brain raced to process the information I had just been given. It was as though I was standing in the middle of a boxing ring, unable to move my hands to protect myself from the painful blows. This couldn’t really be happening. How could the man I was falling in love with be married? I was devastated. Total knock out. Read More…

Undolus, dating, women, on line dating, relationships, strong women, support, uncover, date, single, deceptive, refuse to settle, heart break, broken heart, solution, dating potential

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June 23, 2016

Top Ten Toronto

The Traveling Waitress’ Top 10 Toronto (Summer Time)

Check out my video for more awesome Toronto Tips

Toronto Blue Jays, Distillery District, Panorama Lounge, Toronto Island, Canada. Ontario, travel, tope ten, Toronto, Steam Whistle, St. Lawrence Market, Younge and Dundas, Queen Street, CN Tower, Edge Walk, The CN Tower Edge Walk ~ There is no better way to see the city of Toronto then a 360 degree tour 1,168 feet up! On a clear day you can see all the way to Niagara Falls. It’s an amazing and an experience you will never forget. 

Steam Whistle Brewery Tour ~ After the edge walk you will need a drink!  Steam Whistle is just steps away from the CN Tower. I love my beer and try to do a brewery tour in every city I visit. Stream Whistle is BY FAR my favourite. Not only to they have an amazing tasting Pilsner, the tour guides are fun, down to earth and great story tellers. They make the experience interactive and tons of fun. And unlike most breweries they do not make you wait to the end of the tour to give you a beer. Steam Whistle also supports local musicians and artists and is environmental friendly company. If that isn’t enough the beer tastes AWESOME. 

St. Lawrence Market ~ Hundreds of different vendors with any flavor your tested buds could imagine. National Geographic named the St. Lawrence Market the #1 food market in the world. Nuff said. Plus it’s a nice walk there from Union Station down Front Street. 

The Distillery District ~ The oldest part of the city, this Victorian era pedestrian only village is home to artsy boutiques, great restaurants and local designers shops and studios. Once the old whisky distillery, this charming area of the city now houses one of Canada’s best beers, Mill St. You can take a tour of of the Brewery or just enjoy a delicious beer and food pairing at the restaurant. 

Toronto Island ~ Take the ferry to Toronto Island, you can rent kayaks or bikes and explore the island, grab a picnic or a game of mini golf. I recommend being over there once the sun sets to get an amazing skyline view on Toronto as the sun goes down and the lights come up. 

Panorama Lounge ~ Speaking of great views of the city. Right at the corner of Bloor and Bay street is the Manulife Centre. Go inside, it looks like a shopping mall at first but trust me and keep walking to the back, take the escalator and you will see a sign for Panorama Lounge. Then take the elevator to the 51st floor. Cocktails are expensive but it is worth it to have one while over looking the city at night.

Queen Street ~ This is an awesome street to walk down and explore. It has everything from funky one off shops and boutiques to well know stores. You can find some great souvenirs here. I highly recommend stopping at Poutini’s house of Poutin for a culinary Canadian classic (fries topped with cheese curds and hot gravy) They even have a Vegan version!!! http://www.poutini.com/              The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern is also on this street where some musicians you may have heard of; Willie Nelson, Police, The Ramones, Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip, MatchBox 20, The Strokes, Billy Talent, The Trews, Bryan adams and The Rolling Stones have played. Catch a local Toronto band and discover why we have such a great reputation of indie bands. www.horseshoetavern.com

Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Game ~ Located right downtown at the Rogers Centre (locals still call it Skydome). If it is a nice day the dome is open allowing the chant “Let’s Go Blue Jays” to be heard under the beaming sun, tickets start at only $10. After the game walk down the street in any direction to visit a hotdog vendor for a taste of the world’s best street meat (in my humble opinion). You can also take tours of Rogers centre and walk right onto the baseball diamond. Tour tickets are just $12 and the tours run every hour from 11:00am – 4:00pm. toronto.bluejays.mlb.comToronto Blue Jays, Distillery District, Panorama Lounge, Toronto Island, Canada. Ontario, travel, tope ten, Toronto, Steam Whistle, St. Lawrence Market, Younge and Dundas, Queen Street, CN Tower, Edge Walk,

Younge and Dundas Square ~ Toronto’s (smaller) version of Time Square. Bright lights, billboards and bustling people make it so you are never boarded here. Free concerts and performance art is often taking place and if it is a really hot day you can run through the street level water fountains to cool off. www.ydsquare.ca

Take a World Tour ~ Toronto is an incredibly multi cultural city. With over Over 140 languages and dialects spoken here, and just over 30 per cent of Toronto residents speaking a language other than English or French at home, it is no surprise that there are pockets of the city that hold their own mini country within them. Don’t worry they all accept the loonie!

~ Little Italy ~ along college street between Bathurst St and Ossington Ave

~ China Town ~ Spadina Ave. (Queen To College) and Dundas St. (East and West of Spadina)

~ Greektown ~ All along Danforth Ave from Jones Ave to Hampton Ave

~ Little Poland ~ Roncesvalles Village, Roncesvalles Ave from Queen Street To Bloor

~ Little India ~ Little India, also known as the Gerrard India Bazaar, a half dozen blocks on Gerrard Street East

~ Little Portugal ~ Along Dundas Street West from Shawn Street to Rusholme Road

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Toronto, Canada
Awesome, activities, Travel, adventure, out doors, unconventional, different, Live out there, geo caching, tree top trekking, sup, stand up paddle boarding, Canada, GTA, lifestyle, life,

Trekking in the trees

Written Exclusively For Live Out There

Getting out there and exploring the beauty of this awesome planet is something we all enjoy doing – but we all tent to get stuck in our habits. It’s easy to fixate on just one activity that you really enjoy doing – whether that’s hiking, running or camping, snorkelling, jazercising. It happens all the time, we buy gear with a single pursuit in mind and tend to forget about any adventures outside of our peripheral vision.

If you’re looking to get out there and try something unconventional and different,  to switch it up and have amazing new experiences, any of these are an awesome choice for mixing it up this summer. Read More…

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Caving, exploring, Adventures, Live Out There, Toronto, Horseback Riding, SUP, stand Up Paddle Boarding, Kite Boarding, Cycling, outdoor, nature, Canada

Exploring Caves and Caverns near Toronto

Written exclusively for Live Out There

Put the passports away. There is no need to travel far to experience amazing Live Out There adventures this summer. These are 5 epic experiences within two hours of downtown Toronto.  Caving, Horseback Riding, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Cycling and Kite Boarding.  If you want to get out there this summer without breaking the bank or fighting the cottager traffic, from the epic adventurous to family friendly fun, we have got you covered. Read more…

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Caving,Caving, exploring, Adventures, Live Out There, Toronto, Horseback Riding, SUP, stand Up Paddle Boarding, Kite Boarding, Cycling, outdoor, nature, Canada

Epic Adventures for Couples in Gros Morne National Park

Article written exclusively for Live Out There

Tablelands, Newfoundland, Gros Morne, Canada, hike, hiking, adventure, outdoor, couples, Live Out There

After hiking the Tablelands together you will feel like you can take on the world.

Standing on top of the bottom of the earth, unable to speak or move, I let the beauty of the place surround me. All of the pain and fatigue from the last few hours faded away in a fog that the cool air took down to sea. I looked over and smiled at the only other person I could see for miles…Read more

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Tablelands, Newfoundland, Gros Morne, Canada, hike, hiking, adventure, outdoor, couples, Live Out There
 
My Name Is Ashley & I Am A Millennial, Millennial, times are changing, google, happy life, work wee, work life balance, work to live, be happy, follow your passion

Ashley Shaw

An AMAZING Guest port by an inspiring woman,  Ashley Shaw.

District Manager, Story Teller & Serial Learner

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Erin Bender, Travel with Bender, Beach, California, Orange County, Corona del Mar, Ocean , Sea, Beautiful, WITS, Women In Travel Summit, Sheswanderful, travel, women

Erin Bender from Travel with Bender. I was star struck but she was even cooler in person.

Last week I got back from my first ever Women In Travel Summit (WITS) in Irvine, California. A three day conference for women in the travel writing industry. I was blown away! I have been to conferences before but they were nothing like this.

These are the five gifts that everyone who attends WITS leaves with.

Information ~ The amount of incredible, insightful useful information at you will receive at WITS is almost overwhelming. From the seminars, to the one on one sessions, to talking with other bloggers and influencers you will walk away with resources and insights you need to take your blog and brand to the next level of success.

Connections ~ The connections you make a WITS are vast, varied and very important. You will meet brands that want to partner with you, fellow bloggers that want to guest post with you, women who have been where you are and can share their insight on how to become more successful. New friends to travel with and new products to make your travel life easier. A fellow blogger that I met and I have already planned a trip together in May.

Relationships ~ There is an indescribable feeling of meeting someone who shares the same intensity for something as you do. Being at a conference with 500 women who have a passion for travel, a love for writing and a lust for life, you develop an instant bond with each of them. I booked two one on one sessions. One was with Gabi Logan who helped shape my three year business plan that looks amazing. The other was with Alexandra Jimenez. Alex suggested a career turn that I never would have thought of, but that is so perfect and I couldn’t be more excited about. I am beyond grateful of the opportunity to meet and speak with both of these awesome women.

Beach, California, Orange County, Corona del Mar, Ocean , Sea, Beautiful, WITS, Women In Travel Summit, Sheswanderful, travel, women

Corona del Mar Beach

Empowerment ~ Being in an environment where people are constantly telling you how amazing you can be and offering whatever they can do to help you get there, is incredibly powerful. When you decide to embark on a career as a travel writer or a life of travel, people tend to question your choices. Being surround by hundreds of others who have also made that choice, you can’t help but feel uplifted. I was so up lifted leaving WITS I felt I didn’t even need the plane to fly home. This feeling is invaluable, especially if you have been questioning weather you made the right career choice. Fuled with this new empowerment once back at home you are ready to take your career to the next step of success.

Experiences ~ WITS is always held in a super cool place. (Next year is Milwaukee and I am crazy excited). This year it was Irvine in Orange County California. I got the opportunity to explore the countless beautiful beaches and funky beach towns in the area. Irvine also hosted an awesome opening night party with great food, drinks and prizes. With Stray Boots we were put into teams and sent on a scavenge hunt all around Huntington Beach. Something I never would have typically signed up to do, but where I had an amazing time with some awesome women. I also pushed myself to network. I hate going up to a stranger and starting a conversation, but what I leaned from one of the speakers Nicolle Merrill was that most other people hate it too. What better place to practice your networking skills then at an event where hundreds of other people are practising theirs too? After a weekend at WITS I had the confidence to network like a pro.

The four days at WITS literally changed my life. I have a new career goal, new tools to accomplish success, new confidence and new friends. A HUGE thank you to Beth Santos, the creator of WITS and founder and CEO of Wanderful. As well as all of the amazing ladies who made this experience so awesome.

So will I be seeing you in Milwaukee next year?

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March 17, 2016

Tales From The Haman

travel, Turkey, Bodrum, Haman, Turkish Bath, Female travel, misadventures

Bodrum, Turkey

I was convinced that I was never going to see my family again. How could I have been so stupid?

It was my last day in Turkey and I still had not had been to a Turkish Bath (Haman). Turkish Baths have been around for thousands of years and started out as a place to clean yourself, which is very important in the Islamic religion. It soon took on a social aspect as well, where friends could chat, deals could be made and secrets shared. It has been an important part of Turkish culture ever since.

I had heard about them before leaving and everyone I spoke with told me I had to experience a Turkish Bath. I was in Bodrum and I was leaving for Greece in the morning, it was now or never. I walked into a shop that advertised tours to a traditional Turkish Bath.

For seven Euros they picked you up, took you to the Haman and brought you back. Deal. Sign me up.

The man who sold me the ticket told me to wait outside of the shop and the ride would arrive in about 15 minutes. As I was sitting there a black Kia Rio with Turkish house music spilling from its windows pulled up. There were two men inside, the driver appeared to be in his forties and the passenger in his early twenties. The passenger jumped out and ran into the shop where I just bought my ticket. He was wearing all black, with dark black hair. He was very cute. The shop keeper came out with him and they both looked at me. I smiled.

Ok you go now” the shopkeeper said to me as he pointed at the car.

The young man opened the back door and was waiting for me to get in. You have got to be kidding me. No tour bus? No other people? I look back and forth from the shop keeper to the man holding the car door open, unsure of what I should do next.

Are you ready?” the young man asks obviously growing impatient.

Scenes from  the movie Taken are running through my head. There is no way as a writer and a responsible traveler that I can leave Turkey without visiting a Turkish Bath. On the other hand, how far am I willing go to for a story? I hop in the backseat and say a silent prayer to God that I haven’t made the wrong choice. Then I say one to Allah too, just to be safe.

The two men talk to each other in Turkish as I continue to pray in the backseat. I imagine they are discussing how much they will get for me when they sell me into the human traffic trade.

Her blonde hair and blue eyes will get a good price”

Yes but she is late twenties, not very young, that will drop her price.”

She is slim, but not very tall and she is small chested.”

We speed, twisting and turning getter further and further away from the safety of my hotel. I try to remember every detail so if I manage to escape I can find my way back. We turned down one more small road and stop at a dead end. I look around and all I see is a wide stone staircase leading down. This doesn’t make me feel better. The younger of the two men jumps out of the car and opens my door. He instructed me to follow him down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs was a small sign that said Haman. Who would put a Haman out here? It’s not close to anything touristy and is so hard to find. The young man I came in with speaks in Turkish to a boy about 16, who wore brown capris and a baggy black shirt. They shake hands and then the young man left, without looking at me.

That’s it I have been sold!

The inside of the Haman did not look like any of the pictures I had seen. It was a big room, with a small counter over to the right hand side a hand with a hand written sign that said Tips Welcome. In the centre of the room there were three white leather couches, arranged as if around an imaginary television. There was an extremely narrow hallway that led to a dead end with a door on either side. The whole place had the feel of a school gym. I wondered if it was too late to back out and go back to the hotel.

The 16 year old boy then handed me a red and white checkered linen towel and pointed me toward the change room. The room was small, one wall held twenty pea-green lockers and a wooden bench. On the other wall was a mirror with two sinks and two bathroom stalls. I am not sure if it was the grey cement floors or the lack of windows but the place had a basement feel to it. I got changed and left my things in a locker with no lock. Stupidly, I forgot I was carrying my passport with me. Well that will be a nice bonus, I’m sure a Canadian passport brings in a great profit, maybe it will make up for my age. I closed the locker door.

I was now naked except for my checkered linen towel. I slowly and cautiously left the safety of the change room. I looked down the hallway, there was no one to be seen. I took small steps not really sure where I was supposed to go and what to expect. With each step my heart raced a little faster. All of a sudden the boy appeared out of what seemed like thin air. He smiled and walked quickly to a large wooden door to the right of the hallway. He opened the door and directed me inside.

This new room was circular and made entirely of white marble. It was hot, like a sauna, and smelled of chlorine. Running around the perimeter of the room was a two foot wide marble bench and every 3 or 4 feet was a white marble sink. The sinks had brass taps that poured a steady stream of water which flowed over the edge onto the bench and floor. The sound of the flowing water echoed against the marble. In the centre of the room was an 8×12 solid marble table.

After assessing my new surroundings, I very slowly sat on the marble bench beside the sink, gripping my towel tightly. The boy did not speak English and with hand motions told me to pour the water on myself. He then smiled at me and left me alone in the marble room. On the side of each of the sinks was a small wooden bowl, I picked it up and dunked it into the sink. I poured the warm water onto my legs and arms being careful not to get any on my checkered towel. The water felt good as it washed over me and onto the floor below. I was starting to relax a bit when the boy poked his head around the wooden door…travel, Turkey, Bodrum, Haman, Turkish Bath, Female travel, misadventures

Man or lady?”

He does speak English.

Pardon?” I asked not really sure what the question was.

Man” he pointed to himself, or “lady” he pointed to me and then mimed giving a massage.

Ohhh, lady please” I asked, smiling.

Ok” he said and was gone again.

I looked up at the domed roof. It had ten small stain glass windows about the size of side plates. Not big enough to crawl through, I thought. Don’t be silly Tara, I attempted to calm myself. This is obviously a real Turkish Bath. But then why was I the only person here? My internal debate was broken by a girl about 17 poking her head around the big wooden door.

Hello” she said smiling.

She was beautiful, dark deep eyes. Light brown skin. Delicate features and a big angelic smile you couldn’t help but return.

Hi” I answered. Then she was gone.

Inspecting the new merchandise.

About five minutes later she came back in wearing the same checkered linen that I wore. She smiled at me again which made me feel calmer. She hummed a song that reminded me of The Little Mermaid. I smiled. She filled the small wooden bowl with water and without warning dumped it on my head. That was a shock. As I was blinking the water out of my eyes she did it again. She kept filling the bowl until all of me was completely soaked, humming the entire time. She put down the bowl and picked up an exfoliating glove and began to work on both my legs. She then did my arms and my back.

This is kind of nice.

She then started to undo my towel. I immediately held it tight and looked straight into her eyes. I don’t do well with nakedness. I could never change in the girls locker room, I always went into a stall. The thought of strolling topless on a beach gives me heart palpitations. Even undoing my bathing suit straps to tan made me nervous. Now this girl wanted me to just drop my towel?

It ok, no man, no man.” she said shaking her head and pointing towards the door.

Realizing she had limited English, I came to the conclusion that explaining my lifelong uneasiness with being naked would most likely be lost in translation. She stared at me with young innocent eyes. Oh what the hell, I have come this far,I let my towel fall…

She continued her exfoliating and her humming. Just as I was beginning to feel a tiny bit comfortable – she dumped water on my head again. She was rinsing me after the exfoliating but it still shocked me. She then instructed me to lie on my stomach on the large marble table in the centre on the room.

Relax” she whispered into my ear as she placed my arms by my sides.

Relax, right. How can I relax when I know that she is just primping me to be sold to the highest bidder!?

I tried to relax.

She dunked what looked like a white rag into the sink and when she brought in up, it filled with air and looked like a pillow case. She dragged it all along my body and it left a trail of thick, white bubbles. She did this twice and then began to give me a massage.

Ok, this is nice, try to relax and enjoy Tara, this is nice.

Ok turn over” she said.

Relaxing moment gone.

After repeating the procedure I was brought over to the sink to be rinsed off. She then dried me off with a large, thick, plush towel and wrapped it around me tightly. Ahhhh- exhale, covered again. I began to march to the change room to check on my passport and get out of here, if that was even possible. This place was giving me the creeps. So eerily quiet. No one here but me. The staff disappearing and reappearing all the time. I was ready to go back to the hotel.

No” she said as she grabbed me by the hand and led me to the three leather couches.

Here.”

She pointed for me to sit on one of the couches, but as I did she walked away into the change room. So now I sat alone, in a towel, on a couch, wondering what in the world I was doing there. I was clutching my towel tightly, feeling more than uncomfortable. Is this where the people come to purchase me? Is this where they decide how much I am worth?

Just then the trusty boy appeared from behind me with some Turkish tea. Turkish tea is served in a small tulip shaped glass on a side plate with two sugar cubes and a small spoon. The glass gets very hot and you must pick it up by the rim to avoid burning yourself and then return it to the small plate when done. I didn’t really want the tea. I wanted to get dressed, get my things and leave, but it’s considered very rude to turn down tea, so I took it and drank it as fast as I could. I looked around for someone to hand my empty tea set to or for some indication of what I should do with it. But yet again, I was alone, so I gently placed it on the table beside the couch and headed for the change room. The girl who had done my massage was in there getting ready after her shower. She was still humming. She looked at me and chuckled.

You fast.” she said looking at me through the mirror.

I guess most people relax and enjoy their tea instead of inhaling it. But there was no one else around and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I opened my locker and went through my stuff, everything was exactly where I had left it. The pains of guilt began to crawl up my stomach. Shame on me for thinking such things. The Turkish people had been overwhelmingly gracious, generous and kind. How could I have thought that they would do anything so horrible?

Shame on you Tara! I tipped and thanked the girl and then left the change room and walked down the hall to the front door.

Standing at the entrance to the stairs there was a man about fifty, leisurely smoking a cigarette. He looked surprised to see me.

Oh, your driver is not here yet. Ten minutes. You are very fast.”

Yes, the fast Canadian who flew through her Turkish Bath for fear of being sold to human trafficking. Stupid me.

Ok I will just wait here” I said, smiling.

You ok?” he asked looking genuinely concerned.

I nodded, still smiling. My driver came and I made it back alive. No one tried to sell me, or kidnap me, or steal my passport. I am sure they are still laughing at the terrified looking ‘fast’ Canadian girl.

How was it?” the man at the front desk of my hotel asked.

Very relaxing” I lied. Or at least, it would have been had I not been an over imaginative drama queen.

It’s one thing to be cautious while traveling, especially when traveling alone as a women. It’s another to let these cautions take over your experiences. I was angry with myself for letting what was suppose to be a very relaxing afternoon become a very stressful one. That’s the thing about life, if you stress too much and allow the over anxious media effect how you see the world, you will neglect to appreciate the precious tranquil moments.

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travel, Turkey, Bodrum, Haman, Turkish Bath, Female travel, misadventures