Hammam Experience in Fethiye, Turkey

As an experienced spa-lady, I thought that I had pretty much experienced all of the joys of spa life, that is until my authentic hammam experience yesterday in Fethiye. Usually, when I’m scheduling a massage, I request a male therapist, as I’m a lifelong jockette and have tremendous muscle memory knots that never seem to relinquish their hold on my muscles. Male therapists are generally much stronger and therefore more effective for my stubborn body. Thankfully, I opted for a woman hammam guide yesterday, as I had no idea what lay in store for me.

 Upon my arrival at the hammam, I felt as if I was in any lovely spa anywhere. I was handed a key to a locker, guided to the changing area and asked to undress, to don the towel (which was MUCH SMALLER than I had anticipated- thankfully, I’m a size 2….truly, I don’t know how larger women could fit in the towel) and to wait for my hammam therapist to come back for me. My therapist named Melissa arrived and guided me to a sauna, gave me water and let me bake for about 20 minutes. Again, this all was rote for me. 

 Next, Melissa asked me to follow her from the sauna to the wet area- which was a beautiful, round room- completely finished in white and grey marble. There was a large circular marble slab in the center of the room, and there were marble sinks lining the walls around the slab…here, the experience took on an all new experience for me. I was asked to leave my towel on a side bench and to lay on my back, completely naked and uncovered. This felt odd at first, but quickly felt completely natural and human- I forgot that I was completely naked and gave myself to the moment. Melissa poured warm water all over me, then took a scrubbing mitt and rubbed an exfoliating cream from head to toe, turned me over and began the routine again. 

I was then flipped over on my back again, and was covered with the most voluptuous bubbles I’ve ever felt…the sensation was lovely. Again, water was poured over my body to rinse the bubbles and I was flipped over for the same process on my backside. Melissa, then washed and conditioned my hair and toweled my hair and body dry (she even scrubbed inside my ears). The experience made me feel as if I was an infant being bathed by my mother in the kitchen sink. I wanted to hug Melissa.

Finally, I was brought into another room for a 30 minute, deep tissue massage. Melissa was very in-tuned and aware of my muscular needs without my having to inform her. She had such wise, intuitive hands and such a loving touch, that I felt completely comfortable and at once kindred with this woman. At the end, Melissa gave me a big hug, which I readily returned- as I had wanted to hug her, but hadn’t wanted to make her uncomfortable or to break any cultural rules or protocol. The entire experience filled me with such unexpected joy and peace. It was lovely to connect with a woman from the other side of the world, with whom I could barely communicate with a language other than the unspoken language of two kind women just being women together.

A drive from Fethiye to Ephesus

Today we drove from Fethiye, Turkey to Ephesus and back- which was a very long (179 miles per leg) but very beautiful and powerful journey. As we are staying in the Ionian Coast of Turkey, there was simply no way not to visit this ancient city which was considered to be one of the wonders of the ancient world. During the Roman period 1BC, Ephesus had a population of 250,000- making it one of the Mediterranean’s most powerful and largest cities. Additionally, as a Christian, Ephesus is an important site for Biblical reasons.

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Seven kilometers away from Ephesus is the Virgin Mary’s House
href=”http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_the_Virgin_Mary”>Virgin Mary’s House
This site is both beautiful and moving. While we were there, a mass was in progress in the garden and inside the small, humble home silence and reverence were the order of the day.

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During the drive back to Fethiye, we stopped along the side of of the highway to enjoy a majestic viewpoint of the Mediterranean and undulating mountains in the distance. There was a lady making Turkish coffee, which we of course tasted and thoroughly enjoyed…along with the view.

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Lastly, we met a sweet little kitten who decided to play with my scarf. I wanted to take her home, but realized that where she was, was her home:)

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An unexpected Turkish Wedding on the way to our hotel

Whilst driving along the marina drive to our hotel in Fethiye, from the Dalaman airport from which we’d arrived from London, we encountered a wedding on the side of the road. The music and dancing certainly let us know that we are in Turkey

More blogs to flow tomorrow:)

Borough Market, London

On a rainy day in London, Borough Market is a terrific destination. Borough Market
Every day farmers arrive with their goods from all over the UK; you never know what you’ll find but you know that whatever you find, you’ll love! The produce, cheeses, seafood, breads, preserves, mushrooms, etc…are all fresh and exquisite. Go explore!!!

Also, this side of the river is fantastic now. Follow along cobble stone streets to Vinopolis
for hours of wine tasting in a former warehouse, then stroll to the Tate Modern for a spot of culture.

End your tour of that side of the river with a walk over the pedestrian bride to see St. Paul’s.

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Sydney House Hotel Chelsea

While planning our trip to London, I looked for a boutique hotel in my former beloved Chelsea neighborhood of SW3- and found a gem in the Sydney House Hotel Chelsea

Conveniently located between the Fulham and King’s Roads on Sydney Street, this hotel offers the charm of both Chelsea and South Kensington at a stroll away in either direction. The service is impeccable, as are the rooms which are modern chic. The reception areas are cozy and inviting, including a small mid-century modernesque library, sitting room and bar. Downstairs is the breakfast room, where all of the local papers are displayed and the food/coffee is served with care. Wifi is included and is strong and reliable.

I love the simplicity of this home away from home hotel and would refer it to anyone visiting the area.

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Foodie shopping in London

London is so rich in culture and sights, that its impossible to write about everything. Right now, I’m going to share two fabulously decadent food halls: Harrod’s and Fortnum & Mason.

Harrod’s Harrods
is THE most over-the-top food emporium in the world! When I lived in London during my twenties as an art student at Christie’s, I shopped daily for dinner- as anything/everything one would dream of has been artfully prepared and displayed, in Harrod’s. when I threw dinner parties, i looked like a superstar! Following are a few photos…..:

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Fortnum & Mason Fortnum & Mason
Is where this American learned about the ceremony of tea when I was here in London in my twenties. This store is the ultimate destination for purchasing all things tea, from tea pots to tea tools to tea snacks to the most incredibly perfect tea picnic baskets-as only the British could produce. A fabulous high tea is also served here, for inspiration.

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Cheers!!!

Coffee in London

I’m happily enjoying a cappuccino in my beloved London, following an overnight flight from Miami. London is dear to me, as I spent a few of my years during my early twenties in London studying art at Christie’s. I’m staying in Chelsea, near my former student address on the King’s Road; I can’t wait to visit my old haunts.

Visit Gail’s on the corner of King’s Road and Oak Street….it’s divine!;)

http://gailsbread.co.uk/mobile/

Blogs to follow:)

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London, Turkey, Cannes Boat Show, Monaco, Tuscan Riviera, Rome

I’m sitting in the American Airlines VIP Lounge eagerly awaiting my flight to London, as the launch of our two week adventure/journey through Europe and Turkey in search of a sailboat to keep in the Med- as well as to experience and to learn from as many cultures as we can along the way. I’m madly in love with Europe and can never get enough of it. I haven’t been to Turkey since my early twenties, so am thrilled to see it anew through adult eyes.

I’ll be blogging along the way to share with you.

Happy travels to you:)

A Foodie’s Evening in the Mission District, San Francisco

I have the pleasure of visiting San Francisco every six weeks, or so. Of course, there are so many wonderful restaurants and food shops in the greater San Francisco area due to the climate, cultural diversity and gourmet/wine appreciation and awareness in general. 

 One of my favorite areas is the Mission District:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_District,_San_Francisco

The Mission District is a neighborhood in which San Francisco’s oldest standing building is located. The neighborhood gets it’s name from the Spanish missionaries who arrived in the area during the late 18th century and established their Mission from which to work and live.  During the 19th and 20th centuries, Irish and German immigrant workers moved into the area. Following the 1906 earthquake, development and settlement intensified, as many businesses and residents moved into the area, establishing Mission Street as a major commercial street. In 1926, the Polish community and the Irish community made their marks on the area.  The 1940-1960s saw large numbers of Mexicans moving to the area. Also during the 1960s, many Central American immigrants contributed to a Central American presence that outnumbered Mexicans in the 1960s. The 1980s and 1990s received more people from Central and South America escaping civil wars and political instability. Through 1990-today the area has seen gentrification due to young professionals who wish to live a more hipster lifestyle, but in a more gentrified way- which caused a rise in housing prices, while meanwhile maintaining the rich cultural diversity of the neighborhood.

An  evening out in the Mission District for me always begins with an afternoon phone call to my dear friends Larella and Massimo- owners of La Ciccia, which is one of my favorite restaurants in the world, to see what time they can make room for us at their counter for dinner that evening. Once we’ve secured a reservation, we arrive in the Mission District about one hour prior in order to stroll the area. 

 As we anticipate our fabulous dinner at La Ciccia while walking through the neighborhood, we always make it a point to stop by the cookbook store (only cookbooks are sold in the store) Omnivore Books: 

http://omnivorebooks.com/

Frequently, there are readings by authors, as well as books signed by several authors, local and otherwise, for sale. I love perusing the many cookbooks on offer in this charming independent book store.

Another must-stop is Mission Cheese:

http://missioncheese.net/

San Francisco is a heaven for cheese lovers like me. This spot is fabulous for a meal, or for take-away. I love to drop in prior to our La Ciccia dinner to purchase locally produced cheese for a picnic the next day.

Now, it’s time to walk back to La Ciccia for dinner!!

http://laciccia.com/

La Ciccia is a very popular Sardinian restaurant, in which Larella runs the reservations, seating, hosting, etc… and in which Massimo executes artistry in the kitchen as the head chef. Massimo and Larella are such a fantastic team, that their restaurant is booked for weeks in advance. Thankfully, we are friends with them; they kindly seem to find a way to squeeze us in whenever we’re in town. My husband and I prefer to sit at the bar, so that we can watch Massimo at work in the kitchen and catch a quick word with him and Larella in between their work.

 I ALWAYS order the same dish, spaghetti alla bottarga, which is a Sardinian specialty and beyond compare. I love it so much, that I order a double portion- which says a lot, as I’m a size two. I clean my plate every time. My husband always orders their white pizza, which is comprised of cheeses, salami, radicchio and Italian herbs. Everything on the menu is divine! The service is impeccable and warm. I must also add that La Ciccia has received awards year after year from Wine Spectator Magazine for their extensive and excellent wine lists. Massimo and Larella make everyone feel like family; once you go, you’ll be returning again and again. Simply the best!

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Lastly, we always jump into our car for the short drive to Mitchell’s Ice Cream:

http://www.mitchellsicecream.com/

 

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This last indulgence is completely over-the-top, as we have usually eaten so much at La Ciccia, that we’ve no room left in our tummies- but we push on regardless (there’s always room for ice cream). Mitchell’s has been in business since 1953 as a family-owned business. The ice cream is hand-made daily and is incredible. There’s always a line out the door, but the end result is very much worth the wait. Take your time in line to decide which of the many extraordinary flavors to order. I usually order their more exotic flavors, like avocado or one of their South American fruits. However, their Mexican Chocolate is second to none, as is the Grasshopper ice cream. You really cannot go wrong with anything on the menu. 

 By this point, I’m now wishing that I could walk back to the hotel in Union Square. The work out tomorrow will be intense, but the indulgences have definitely been worth every calorie.

 

Until the next time.