If I made a movie about our recent trip to Istanbul, Rotten Tomatoes would describe it: “The adventurous AGMA and her humorous sidekick Hubs sing and dance their way to Istanbul while encountering wacky blondes, many naked people, and never ending samples of Turkish Delight.”
Turkey has been on my “list” for a long time now.
A few months ago, after having just read a travel post of one of my favorite bloggers, Life in the Boomer Lane (or LBL), describing her latest trip to Istanbul, AGMA perked up.
Turkish Airlines started flying direct to Istanbul from Atlanta several years ago and offered dirt cheap promotional pricing for a while. But it was right after the terrorist attack on the Araturk Airport and the coup attempt.
Timing…not so good.
But two years later, LBL’s post about Istanbul got me thinking again…
A couple weeks later, a sale to Istanbul popped into my inbox from one of the travel sites I follow.
It was a sign!
Not only did we book the trip, but two friends of mine from my former life in Ohio decided to join us! P-A-R-T-A-Y!
AGMA has to say that this was one of the best (albeit shortest) international trips I’ve ever taken.
Sadly for the Turkish people, their currency, the Turkish lira, is at one of the lowest levels against the dollar and Euro it’s ever been. For Hubs and AGMA, it meant a $3.77 twenty minute Uber ride and lunch for two for at a local place for less than $6. We left big tips.
Prices for tours, authentic name brand clothes/accessories and “experiences” (think a Turkish Bath) are in Euros because of the unstable lira.
Did somebody mention Turkish Bath?
Yeah we did!
We went to the Cagaloglu Hamam. They’ve been scrubbing and bathing the good people of Istanbul since 1741.
Reservations (done via email) are a must because it is a relatively famous Bath in Istanbul. They have a “Wall of Famous Clients” (pictured above.)
AGMA’s picture will be added beside Oprah’s next week, I feel certain.
We opted for the 50 Euro “Istanbul Experience” – sort of the basic Turkish bath.
The check-in area in the lobby was serene and peaceful, with a flute player playing mellow melodies. There was a fountain in the middle, and low table and stools for post-bath tea.
A lovely woman who spoke wonderful English whisked me off to the “Ladies Only” section. I said bye to Hubs, praying that he wouldn’t bolt as soon as I left.
She escorted me to a courtyard area surrounded by dressings rooms. I got my own personal room complete with a lounging couch, a side table, lamp and mirror. On the couch was a towel and sandals wrapped in plastic. And some “undies”.
This was getting interesting
I changed out of my clothes, wrapped the lovely towel (called a peshtemal) around me and slipped on my “underwear”.
Turns out, it was a disposable thong. A thong?? AGMA, for reasons that would be totally clear if you knew me in person, has never worn a thong in her life. But when in Rome… (or Istanbul!)
When my attendant Eaja came to fetch me, she told to leave my glasses in the dressing room. AGMA is blind without her glasses.
In hindsight, it was a good thing.
Eaja lead me to the sauna area first. The idea was to literally sweat the crap out of your pores. Turned out, I had a lot of crap in my pores.
After about 15 minutes, Eaja lead me to the large bath area and one of the many sinks that surrounded the large central marble slab. Sans my towel (oh-la-la) Eaja dumped small bucket full of water on me. Cool water.
She also washed and rinsed my hair. With cool water.
Eaja then lead me to the central raised marble slab, laid my towel out and had me lay on my back.
Mind you, AGMA is only clothed in her “thong”. YIKES! But my fuzzy vision could tell that everybody else was going almost commando.
It took me about a minute to get over it. I guess that answers my question about going to a nudist camp!
Then Eaja started scrubbing me with a kese (a exfoliating mitt). And baby, she scrubbed me from head to toe. On both sides.
No soap; just the kese. From the looks of the kese afterwards, I was pretty grubby.
But the next part…OMG…was the best!
More bubbles than I’ve ever seen in my life! They covered me like a blanket.
Then a massage. A bubble massage. For about 10 minutes.
I flopped over onto my tummy, and got bubbled and massaged again.
AGMA was sooooo relaxed and little fuzzy on what happened next…
Somehow, I got rinsed, wrapped in a dry towel and was lying down on a lounger back in the dressing room courtyard with a cup of tea, small glass of sharbat and some pieces of Turkish delight beside me.
After 15 minutes of lounging and sort of getting my wits back, I changed in my dressing room (sadly leaving my “thong” behind.) I dried my hair, gave Eaja a nice tip and was off in search of Hubs.
I found him in a robe, with his hair in a towel, drinking tea on a lounger in one of the rooms off the lobby. Smiling.
He LOVED it! Whew…
The wacky blonde was my friend who almost spent $500 (but didn’t) on saffron for “stocking stuffers” in the Grand Bazaar. Long story…
And Turkish Delight was EVERYWHERE and everybody wants to give you a sample!
It was a quick hit trip – we were only gone for 5 days. But it was a truly amazing 5 days.
We found the Turkish people incredibly friendly and so very helpful. Somebody was always willing to help Hubs and I when we needed to lift up his mobility scooter on a curb or up some stairs.
AGMA signed up for Turkish Airlines deal emails as soon as we got home!
I can’t wait to go back to get scrubbed and bubbled again! Naked (nearly…)
Don’t judge me.