The Turkish Bath

Glancing back over our recent posts, I realized that we never posted the second half of our Turkish adventure. here goes…

Imagine. A warm slab of marble, the echo of smooth stone water basins at the surround, steamy humidity and stars and moons of light exposing the room to filtered sunlight. Add to it complete strangers and you’ve pretty much got an accurate picture of the pampered experience of being in a Turkish bath. The one obvious negative is the presence of strangers. But the positives of the relaxing experience far outweigh the slight discomfort of being unclothed in such surroundings. Not to mention the baby soft skin that follows.

As compared to the Indian ayurvedic massage, the Turkish bath is a clear winner (please, can someone open one in London…or the US!). While you might know I’m a big fan of the gym’s steam room and that I use it as a substitute for North Carolina’s balmy, humid climate, the Turkish bath took things to a whole new level. Someone bathes you in bubbles (granted…a stranger), exfoliates your skin, and finally drenches you in cool water. This is precisely how our second day in Istanbul began. Needless to say we were well groomed for a relaxing day.


Next up, a festival of local  culinary delights as we paraded the city’s main modern boulevard, a stop at Mac to reapply my make up (nothing like it for a quick fix following the drenching bath), a restful lunch in a local garden cafe (set in a turtle-friendly lemon grove), and a whirling dervish service (a local religious sect that dances their prayers). Before heading back to the Old District for a relaxing seafood dinner in the city’s ancient candlelight water reservoir, called the Cistern (now dry, obviously J).We had local Turkish delight (yummy with nuts—though an odd texture, perhaps), not so yummy nut extract formed into a loaf (we think?), elastic ice cream (it holds together a bit more than the usual because it includes a bit of orchid extract, making it slightly elastic), apple tea (the London version tastes like apple cider—while authentic Turkish apple tea is less tart and more subtle).

A couple tips for the road for any future ventures to Istanbul: skip the outside stalls at the market and head straight to the stalls at the center (that have been there for hundreds of years). This is where you’ll find the established, confident vendors with quality, appropriately priced products. And, with their confidence, they don’t need to coax or badger.

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