Monday, May 23, 2011

One from the just Beauties

I remember reading in some guidebook that Istanbul had a Sultan (who was probably called the magnificent or the great) who had this thing for tulips. I can't remember who it was and don't feel like googling this right now - what I do know is that the tulips were amazing. Densly planted in like types...they were amazing. After our one sunny day it was crazy to see how many of the tulips opened up - they were as welcomming to the sun as I was.

I know you love these red hot pokers. Is that their real name? My MB had these growing in the garden of the house I grew up in. Ours were redder and thinner and way more vibrant. I have one of these planted in the garden and it just keeps on blooming. I need to figure out if I can divide these or what...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What I forgot...

This is what my MB had to say about my description of the hamam...

"Loved the description of the turkish bath but I think you forgot that your attendant had one nipple up and one down...oh and the fact that they never brought you another towel till I went and asked for one...I laughed out loud....we do have fun! HUGS"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hamam and night sky

To go along with my description of our trip to the hamam, I thought I would share with you the ONE amazing sunset that Istanbul treated us to. I can't believe that it has been over a month since we returned from the trip and I am still busy trying to process through it.

I honestly never thought that experiencing a hamam would happen. My first venture out to a hamam was with Eric one night after O boy was in bed. After consulting the guidebooks we found one that was co-ed (there are only a couple - most are really traditional and have separate areas for men and women) we managed to get ourselves there only to be met by a burly jerk of a guy telling us it was full and we needed to make reservations. After looking at him with an evil eye - we turned our backs and took a walk instead. The second trip to try and visit a hamam was with my mom on another night after O was in bed. We found one close to the apartment and walked down there. In our naivete we walked into what we thought was the front door - turns out it was the front door for the MEN's section. We were stopped about 2 feet in the door and told (with a stern look from a guy with bushy eyebrows) that the women's entrance was around the corner. So MB and I back up and go around the corner down a steep hill along a sketchy street with only one little light and see a grated door that is locked up tight. Turns out it was not open on the day we were there. third time must be a charm - or should I take this as a warning that I am not supposed to experience a hamam?

A couple of days later MB and I head out again to the same neighborhood hamam. This time we act like we know what we are doing. We go down the hill and alas - the grated door is open and it leads into a set of steps that go further downhill. We walk down the steps and tentatively open the door. We step into a wide open reception area with windows at the tops of the walls to let light in. We are met by four older female attendants all dressed in flowery mumu type dressing gowns. We pay for our services and are each lead to a little dressing room. The room has a little bed, a mirror, hooks for your clothes - but the strangest thing is that the rooms are all windows from about the waist up. This should have been a sign to me that privacy and modesty need to be left at the door. We undress and wrap ourselves up in pe┼čtemal , slip on our little wooden slippers and off we go. Through another door and into an inner chamber to yet another door. We step through the door and faster than you can say "hamam" our attendant grabs hold of my towel and whala - Stacy is naked! I have to tell you - it was a little disconcerting. My MB says that she held onto her pe┼čtemal with a death grip until the addendant gave up and let her keep it.

The inside of the room is beautiful - all marble with a giant marble inlay slab in the middle surrounded by little sinks around the outside edge of the room. There are colored glass circles in the roof that let sun in and the whole room had a kind of hazy appearance. So there I am naked sitting on this heated marble slab - and when I say heated I mean hot. The center of the slab is wicked hot and as you lay there you start to sweat and you get slippery and you feel like you are going to slide right off the edge. We lay there chatting for a bit of time and then in come our two attendants. They are dressed in what I came to call a "uniform" it consisted of black lace bikini undies and a little strip of cotton cloth tied around their breasts. Wow! And I thought being naked was intimidating. My attendant is looking at me like I am supposed to do something and I have no clue what to do - I am usually good in new situations, you just watch the person ahead of you but we were the only ones in the hamam. I sit there trying to figure out what she wants me to do until finally she flips me over on my belly and starts splashing water on me. She proceeds to scrub me with an exfoliator mitt and show me all the dead skin and debris that she gets off. This is not a gentle scrub down - this is a freakin aerobic event and a couple of times I wince but dang if my skin doesn't get super clean. Next she splashes me with water and starts to soap me up. She uses a white cotton pillow case looking thing with a bar of soap in it - she makes these crazy suds and soaps pretty much every inch of me. I looked like this minus the blond hair and the look of ectasy on my face. It was trippy how many bubbles there were. During the soaping process she is massaging you and I was slipping and sliding around the marble slab like a chicken gettting prepped for dinner. I kept thinking that I was going to slid right off onto the floor but the attendant was good - she used her knees and her massaging to slide me back and forth. After the soaping she rinses me off using these pretty copper pans full of water then I get to sit on a little marble step between her knees while she washes my hair. After she is done washing my hair she proceeds to rinse me off again - this time those pretty copper pans are not so pretty - she dumps pan after pan of water over my head until I start to feel like a drown rat and my contacts threaten to float away.

The whole experience was great. Going with MB and giving myself over to the exeperince was the perfect thing to do at the time and I would definitley do it again.

Market Madness

The markets in Istanbul were amazing, awesome, interesting and every other descriptive word you could think of. I love grocery stores, I love markets, I love how you can find such crazy things that you never knew existed. We visited both the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market a couple of times. Not exactly sure how one puts into words such overwhelming sights and sounds. Saffron, saffron and more...I had no clue there were so many types and variations of saffron.

Beads, bracelets, bangles...all sorts of jewels...everything from cheap plastic made in China to 24k gold with ginormous rubies, emeralds and other stones.

The evil eye was everywhere...once you started looking for them they were easy to spot. These were in the Spice Market where they have a whole section for dogs - open bins of food, beds, and these collars with the eye on them. Made me miss Bella.

The Spice Market was full of spices of course but it also had huge outdoor sections full of veggie seeds, pet supplies, bulbs and other plantings. I loved the intruder in this picture. Next post I promise to talk more about the Hammam!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birds in 'Bul

A picture is worth a thousand words...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Steps

On our daily commute to and from our apartment to the tramvey we had to navigate this crazy set of stairs - usually with stroller in tow. They were steep and crooked and interesting. Sometimes E and I would walk ahead at our normal pace and remember for a split second what life was like before O. During this specific set of pictures - I was listening to grandma and grandpa count out the steps with Orion as they made their was down them. It was step 13 that proved to be the downfall.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Happy Birthday MB!

We love you and wish you another great year filled with peace, love, good margaritas, interesting conversations and outrageous travel to come and visit. xoxoxo S E O

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Time for a haircut

I have a shaggy son. It seems like he is always in need of a haircut. I trim it now and than but let's be honest I am not very good at cutting hair. Our trip to Istanbul presented a perfect opportunity. Using sign language and paying 4 Lira - Orion got the best hair cut of his life. It took about 40 minutes and was the spectacle of the alley that we were in.

Look at all that hair!

He kept trying to watch himself in the mirror - it was really funny.

Don't know why I didn't take a picture of the finished product but let me tell you he's a keeper

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Galata Tower

Our time in Istanbul was so relaxing. It was one of those times where the most important thing was just being together and reconnecting. We didn't make major plans, we didn't stick to some crazy schedule, we just went. We would get up in the morning and decide what we wanted to do for that day - in two weeks we managed to take in all the must see's and have an afternoon nap most days.

This was one of our first days together and we had decided to find the Galata Tower. Easier said than done - all the guide books in the apartment were rather vague about how to get there so with very little information off we went. After a few false starts we managed to find the tower and the requiste line down the steps, out the door and all the way around the square. I took one look at that line and knew there was no way in heck we would manage that with Bill, Eric and O boy. So the boys played in the square while MB and I took a walk around to see exactly how long the line was. After deciding it was waaaay toooo long we popped into a textile shop and each bought a peshemel to use on our visit to the hammam.

You know when you decide to do something (or not do something) while on holiday...I always wonder if I will look back and think "dang, we should have waited in line for 3 hours to climb to the top of Galata Tower". I doubt it but I always wonder. Do you have any regrets about things you did (or didn't do) on vacation?

I love nuts and Istanbul was full of them being sold on every street corner - this provided some much needed nourishment on our Galata Tower adventure.

Mom and Bill look amazingly happy after a crazy adventure to find the Galata Tower.

Silk worms cocoons in the store where we bought our wraps.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I love you Tallo!

My sweet green funk and I celebrated 12 years of wedded bliss in Istanbul. Cheers to the hardest thing I have ever done. xoxo