Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Travel to and first few days in Istanbul

The flights from Canada went well. The kids made the trip easy. We arrived at the airport at approximately 6:00 PM with two vehicles as we had nine check in bags, three carry ons and three electronics bags.

We arrived in Istanbul without incident and my wonderful husband arranged for a porter along with a driver to handle all of our luggage. 

After a great sleep we headed down for breakfast and then went to the Grand Bazaar for a quick visit. We entered gate 5 of 21 gates (entrances). We were still in a haze of jet lag so the visit was quite short. We headed back to the hotel for a nap before heading out for another walk down to the blue mosque to see it from the outside as it was already closed for the day.

Shaun took us to a great restaurant called Pasha. He had been there when he first arrived in January. The food and staff are lovely. We then headed to bed. Unfortunately, the girls and I woke at 2:00 AM unable to fall back to sleep as our bodies were still on pacific standard time. 

We got up the next morning and had our breakfast and decided to go back to the bazaar as Paige had seen a snake bracelet that she wanted to purchase. It took us a bit to find as we entered at a different gate this time. We saw many lamps, purses, jewelry, plates, bowls etc..... We stopped for a chai before locating the snake jewelry. Luckily there is a currency exchange so that we could buy the snake ring and Jordan's pink ring. 

We found a lovely lamp for 25 lira (Jordan allowed us to get a discount) for our cockpit.

Once we finished at the bazaar we headed back to the hotel room for a little down time and sanity. Shaun had mentioned a Hammam (Turkish bath) that he wanted to send me to near the ringed column in Sultanahmet. It is called the Cemberlitas Bath. I was sent in to be scrubbed down and massaged. I was also able to have my toes done in a lovely red. At this point I felt like a deer in headlights. I was handed a silvery bag with bikini panties, a scrubber and 3 tokens. One for the bath, another for oil massage and the last for the pedicure. I was directed up to the second floor to change into the panties and grab a wrap and sandals. I headed downstairs into the marble room to figure out what to do........ well lets just say there was no top so there I was topless with the other women. I would need to feel really comfortable with a girlfriend to accompany her there. The best part was that there was no judging or dirty looks. Most of us were just trying to figure out how to handle the situation...... The ladies that rub/foam/wash us down wear black bikini outfits and massage approximately 50 women a day.... I was directed up to the third floor for my pedicure. Off I went wrapped only in my towel. As I was waiting for the lady to begin the pedicure I noticed that the paraphernalia for the pedicure was not clean...... Internally I was freaking out and secretly hoping that I haven't been contaminated. Other than the pedicure it was definitely an experience I would recommend and for sure want to experience again.

Ringed column

outside view of the hammam

warmed marble where the scrub and wash occur
another view of the marble scrub room

area where the oil massages happen

I headed back to the hotel with several less layers of skin on my body. Very much relaxed and with newly painted toes. Shaun had entertained the girls with ice cream and allowed them to build forts in the room. Life was good. We had dinner and headed to bed.

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