Today was the ultimate girls day for Colleen, Stephanie, Eilidh and I. We hopped the super-posh Bilkent bus into Sihhiye, where we found this adorable little restaurant that had a gorgeous waterfall as a backdrop, which conviently provided mist for us during our brunch. We all ordered a delicious traditional Turkish breakfast plate, which consisted of two types of cheese (one being Bayir Penir, which is incredible), olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, salami, little sausages, bread, jam and honey. Yum-O, as Rachel Ray would say. I'm getting the impression that Turkish food is very fresh and simple, and I like that.
We caught a cab to the Tarihi Sengul Hamam, in the conservative (and slightly poorer) area of Ulus. The hamam was a very interesting experience for us Western chicks. While I consider myself to be a pretty liberal woman, there's just something about walking around topless in a room full of women that unnerves me. So, we change into our bikinis and go into the bathing area, a gorgeous, square, marble room in the middle of which is a huge heated slab where women are lying and being scrubbed down by other women. Around the perimeter of the room are a bunch of marble sinks and taps. The idea is, you bring your own soap and shampoo, sit by this sink give yourself a little soaping (friends soap each other) and rinse yourself with a little bowl from the water in the sink. Now, we have no idea whats going on, really. A kind Turkish women who spoke a little English ordered our services for us at the front desk and told the host lady what we were getting. So we left it up to the Turkish hamam ladies to lead us around. I was first led to a massage table where I was instructed in Turkish to lay down and this women pulls off my bikini top. Ok. She takes this cloth mitt and start vigorously rubbing at my body. This is meant to get all of the dead (and not quite so dead) skin off your body. Well, let me tell you it worked. I have never seen such gross dead skin all over my body, and I actually exfoliate at home! I felt like a grubby little kid - I have never felt so clean in all my life, and my mother can attest to the fact that I spent many hours in the bathtub as a teenager. Nothing compared to this. After my scrub, I was lead to the hot marble slab in the middle of the room where a woman scrubbed me down with soap. This treatment was lovely, and even better was what followed. I had the most dedicant Turkish coffee massage, where coffee grinds were massaged into my body. It smelled heavenly, and even left my skin with a nice tan tint. Once us Westerners got over our initial shock of taking off our tops, we relaxed and had a great time. I will definately be returning to this hamam, and I'm hoping to go at least once a month.
After the hamam, we walked through Ulus and bought real Turkish delights (honestly, they are nothing like what he have in Canada). These Turkish delights (actually called lokum) are soft, gummy, sugary and coated in powdered sugar. The guy who we bought them from was so nice, and the man from the shop across the street gave us pretty keychains that had the Turkish symbol on them. It was really sweet. The girls also bought spices and wheat grains from a merchant.
We found our way to the Ulus metro station and hopped a train to Kizilay, where we found a cute restaurant for supper. I'm actually starting to orient myself in Kizilay, and I'm enjoying shopping and eating there. We even found a bus that goes to Bilkent!