Tag Archives: tradition

10 reasons to visit Turkey in 2016

I’ve had my share of woes in Turkey, especially when it comes to bureaucracy but I have to say that that I consider myself quite lucky to have been able to experience it as an almost-local. As I take on possibly my last year here (time FLIES), it’s a good time as any other to already start making a list of reason why I should come back after leaving (IF I leave). With Turkish Airlines now serving the Istanbul-Mauritius-Antananarivo route three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) and possibly an additional flight on Mondays as from the 8th of February 2016 it is still quite fair to assume that many Mauritians would soon be making their way towards Turkey in the near future – not that they haven’t been doing so for the past years (from what I know anyway).

So without further ado, here are my 10 reasons for you to visit Turkey this year.

1. Istanbul would be reason enough

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The Blue Mosque – the face of Istanbul
The only city spanning two continents, Istanbul is definitely one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities I have ever visited (although I wouldn’t want to live there, the traffic is truly horrendous). With over 2500 years of history, culture and traditions, it is a city with beautiful and certainly famous landmarks representing worth of the capital that served four different empires.

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From a corner in the Hagia Sophia
2. But then, you’d miss the other historical and archeological gems Turkey offers

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Ephesus: The library of Celsus
Continue reading 10 reasons to visit Turkey in 2016

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What happens in the hamam…

… doesn’t always stay in the hamam, because there’s no fun in that.

I had my first (and only) hamam – or Turkish bath as it’s called in English –  experience surprisingly in Nicosia, Cyprus and not in Turkey, despite having been living here for a year a half now. Truth be told, I just couldn’t muster up the courage to bare nearly all, etven if it were suppose to make me feel divine after all. Another little secret, it’s all worth the “trouble”.

Previously a church, it was converted into a hamam during the Ottoman period
Previously a church, it was converted into a hamam during the Ottoman period

I was cursed –  or blessed, depending on how you see it – with rain during my last days in Cyprus and whilst wandering around in the capital, we came across the Grand Turkish Bath (Büyük Hamam) and immediately I thought it would be a good idea to go there since there was no joy in being outside in such depressing weather. It actually snowed just a few days after I left, so that tells you what kind of weather we were actually dealing with.

Had we not made it to the Greek side of Nicosia that day, we’d have got to the co-ed session that afternoon for some TLC. Thank god that never happened because I doubt I’m ever going to be ready for that. It’s to be noted that hamams are usually a single sex affair and very few, in touristic areas, are co-ed.

What are hamams?

The sanctity of the hamam
The sanctity of the hamam

Hamams are the Turkish version of the Roman baths, with similar architecture including their marble interior. Originally a place where men would cleanse before prayer, it has evolved to a social and cultural institution and now to a place where tourists can come to relax and have some TLC after a long day.

Choosing a service

The hamam I went to (and most actually) had different service to accommodate everyone’s need and tastes.

Self-service – DIY. You are given all the “amenities” and left to do figure it out on your own. Definitely not recommended if it’s your first time.

Traditional – Try if you dare. This usually involved a head to toe scrub and wash, by one of the attendants, often in public for everyone else to see. Initially embarrassing but a small price to pay on your dignity. This is the one I went for.

Traditional with add-ons – Different hamams will have different options. The one I went to had different therapeutic and luxurious foam massages.

You will usually pay upfront before you go into the actual hamam so make your choice carefully, although I doubt they’ll object to adding a few things as you go on if they’re not very busy. Continue reading What happens in the hamam…

Turks don’t care much for cereals, but I do!

“Today, let’s have an American breakfast,” we said with Nus. I went to the canteen; some cereals and milk, done. Is that it? Even if I had breakfast, it’s not one I’ll remember…. I don’t need to go to school or work, why was it over in such a short time? When preparing breakfast, first the kettle should be put on. In the meantime, we boil eggs, or fry them in olive oil. If  boiled, I would usually eat two of them, softboiled. If fried, it’s cooked with some red pepper flakes and sweet smelling sujuk. Hmmm. During summer, we definitely have tomatoes and cucumbers as well. In winter, there usually are 3-4 peppers grilling on the stovepipe. As soon as they’re done, into some traditional village bread with some salt, sweet. Together with some salty cheese soaked in hot water – tulum cheese or kaşar. I prefer tulum cheese. 🙂 Home made cranberry or sour cherry jam onto butter. The tea has been brewed too. That’s my breakfast.”

Elif Y.

Continuing with our little “Breakfast Club”, my Turkish roommate and I decided to go for cereals this time. She’s so used to seeing me just grab my cereal bowl – which I’ve had since 2009 and I’m still travelling with – that she wanted to try it as well. However, she wasn’t as impressed at the sensation of cold milk, crunchy cereal and soft sliced fruit (it’s a real science!). Nope, she wasn’t impressed at all, as you can see from her testimony above. Continue reading Turks don’t care much for cereals, but I do!