“Last” day in Istanbul

Tomorrow we leave on a road trip down the coast to the ancient cities of Bursa and Izmir for four days before returning to Istanbul.
Recently, our activities in Istanbul have included:
-a trip up the Bosphorus (much less a cruise and more of some guys yacht that he rents for people to take tours on…and not a very nice yacht either). We were very lucky with the weather though so it was beautiful.
-a visit to a Turkish bath. This is one of the best things we have done so far. Everyone always says it is an experience, and what a wonderful experience it was. For some people it is intimidating because you are only given some underwear and something to wrap up in, but once you get over that it’s awesome. You start off laying on a giant marble stone that takes up most of a circular room that is heated almost as warm as a sauna, and then the women come and pour water on you and then scrub your body with a washcloth before covering your body with the best soap suds bubbles ever and basically giving you a massage. They also wash your hair before you get to soak in the jacuzzi for as long as you like. Five of the girls went and we did not want to leave, and when we finally did (two hours later) we were so relaxed and clean feeling. It was absolutely incredible. We are planning on going again before we leave Turkey.
-my friend/ hotel roommate and I also took a detour to watch the Seahawks game, at 1am….the sleep schedule was a little rough but pretty fun to be able to watch the game.
-we saw a Whirling Dervish performance. The Dervishes practice Suffism, or mystic Islam, and basically they spin around and around as part of their mediation ritual. You can look up videos on YouTube. It’s a very popular religion in Southeast Asia.
We have had a few meetings and lectures including one with the Women’s library, a group that collects documents, books, paintings, journals, everything having to do with the women’s movement in Turkey, or really anything published by women. We also took a tour of a neighborhood that used to be predominately Greek before the revolution and has now essentially become a ghetto but is undergoing some gentrification.

I’ve decided that a Jan term abroad is very very different from a semester. Everything is so much more structured, every meal has to be eaten out, and during free time all I ever really want to do is relax in the hotel room because it takes so much effort to find somewhere to go even if it is just for a coffee. I also definitely didn’t expect to learn as much as I have, so that’s good. I’m kinda ready to go home, but I’m excited to go to the coast and make the most of the last week we have here.
Photos: some from our water trip up the Bosphorus, the Whirling Dervishes, and a picture of the postcard from the bathhouse

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