Looking back at our pics, we packed a lot of things into Day 4 of Istanbul. This is a good itinerary if you only had one day in the city as it covers a wide range of cultural and culinary activities.
Turkish Bath – The day started with a Turkish Bath. I did a lot of research in to the various baths. I wanted a luxurious one with a couples treatment. They were very hard to find as most will separate men and women. Also, the therapist will be of the same sex as you in 99% of places. I finally settled on Hagia Sophia Hurrem Sultan Bathhouse and did the Ab-1 Hayat. The bathhouse was founded in 1556 and is located close to all the main attractions of Istanbul (Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque etc).
The interior is very majestic.
Based on my research of other people’s experiences on Youtube, this place seems to dumb down the experience a bit for tourists. Not in a bad way, but they dont seem to be as rough with the treatments. The experience starts with you being shown to a private changing room where you can leave your stuff and they provide everything you need. Then you will be led to an area to bath.
After the bath, your therapist will bring you to a communal marble slab where you will lie down and be given a bath (ie scrubbed). This will be followed by a clay/mud bath. Then some time to relax with tea and fruit in a private cabana. Finally, a massage which was one of the best I have experienced. I actually felt total bliss for a moment dozing out of consciousness which has never happened in any other massage. Afterward you will be given some free products, which are the same they use on you during the treatment and smell amazing. I would highly recommend this place.
Lunch – Guvenc Konyali – For lunch we ate at a place that our driver recommended. I was a bit hesitant given the track record of our previous guide, but this place did not disappoint and I made sure to double check the places being recommended to us. The first thing I saw was a guy rolling dough which eased any remaining doubts I had.
Here was the menu:
We started with lentil soup and mint. There is a Turkish guy near my office that makes amazing lentil soup with mint so I was excited to try this version. While it was good, I like the one closer to home better. What I find is that Turkish food does not come seasoned and you will always have to add salt. This may be a negative thing as it indicates, and my wife believes, North America uses too much salt in their cooking!
We also had kebap and pide.
Both were good, but the pide was a bit oily and I prefer the one at Cagri Karadeniz. For dessert, our driver recommended kunefe which is a pastry with cheese and a type of simple syrup:
Asian side of Istanbul – After lunch it was time to finally set foot on the Asian side of Istanbul.
Camlica Mosque – Our first stop on the Asian side was the largest mosque in Turkey. It was hard to capture in a pic:
Camlica Hill – after the mosque we went to Camlica Hill which is like a park with great views of the city.
From here it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner, but not before seeing the famous whirling dancers. I am so glad we hired a private driver as it made it possible to see all these sights and party into the morning. Again, if you want the contact info for a reliable driver with nice cars, follow us on IG and send me a DM.
Hodjapasha – Whirling Dancers – Before dinner we caught the famous whirling dancers show. These are the guys who wear dresses that expand and they twirl on stage. It was amazing to see them do this and not get dizzy! Although we could not film during the show, you can google for vids to get an idea of what you will see.
Dinner – Nomads – Nomads is like a dinner in a show similar to a Bagatelle. Upon arrival we were seated by the door which was a bit annoying due to the traffic. I think they give preference to locals. Still, it was a very enjoyable, party atmosphere with unlimited drinks (Raki, wine etc) and the food was actually good.
It started with a huge assortment of Meze:
The your choice of entrees and desserts which were all decent enough. The main attraction are the dancers which will come out while you eat. Slowly the place erupts into a big party. Note that they allow smoking indoors.
Overall, aside from the seating, the service and food were good. The entertainment is the main draw and I would recommend this place if you want a party experience and dont mind smoke.
Swissotel – Rooftop Bar – We finished off Day 4 in Turkey at the rooftop bar of the Swissotel which had great views, a unique stadium seating set up with dance floor, dj etc.
Tomorrow, off to Bodrum!