Istanbul, January 17th from Emily

Posted on January 17th, 2012 by

Greetings and salutations from a beautiful and snowy Istanbul!

Our trip is in full swing now, as everyone is better adjusted to the newness of this wonderful city.  We started the day off with a stroll through Nisantasi Neighborhood, perhaps the most “Western” experience we have thus encountered.  Nisantasi is a beautiful quarter of Istanbul where one can find designer clothes, gourmet cafes, and very strange street art.  We stepped into a shopping center, six stories high and so narrow you could walk around an entire floor in about two minutes.  As Gloria Gaynor filled our ears, we bought Starbucks and peeked into store windows.  The clothing was extremely posh, so it’s no wonder that Turks are always so well dressed.  After this brief jaunt into Nisantasi’s shopping district which could rival those of Chicago or New York, we made our way back to the hotel where after a few hours of free time and rest, we mentally and physically prepared ourselves for something not one among us could have imagined: the Turkish bath. It was certainly an experience that everyone should have at least once.  We went to a world-renowned Turkish bath called Cemberlitas, founded in 1584 and built by Mimar Sinan (you can hardly go anywhere in Istanbul without seeing this master architect’s contributions to the aesthetics of the city).  The two sexes were immediately separated once reaching the bath, and from this point on, I can only supply the experience of the women.  Like almost every building in Istanbul, spiral staircases brought us up to the changing rooms, where we donned some disposable underwear and wrapped ourselves in plaid cloth.  We were then led back downstairs into the steam room, where we laid on a large marble plinth to sweat for about ten minutes.  Then, we were individually scrubbed, soaped, and splashed as the staff rejuvenated our skin and souls.  After the scrubbing, we made our way one by one into the pool area, which was really just the largest bathtub any of us had seen.  It was extremely relaxing, despite the fact that each of us was almost nude while surrounded by classmates.  Once we reconvened with the boys in the lobby, they shared similar experiences with us, however they didn’t have the option of the pool.  Each one of us experienced something different in the Turkish bath, which leads me to believe that it is something that everyone has to try at least once.  A trip to Istanbul just isn’t complete without experiencing this centuries old tradition.  We have reached the chronological crest of our journey, and I think we all hope to savor the second week of our trip to Istanbul with new food, new friends, and new perspectives.


One Comment

  1. Amanda McCourt says:

    My soul really needed the exfoliation.