Tenth Turkish Epistle

The Tenth Turkey Epistle

A Recipe

I discovered a recipe that might interest some of you.

Start with any interesting leafy green base


Sliced broad green beans

Shredded carrot

A little thinly sliced onion

Optional: a little thinly sliced red pepper

Orange or grapefruit sections

Toss with a dressing made from olive oil and either freshly squeezed orange juice or grapefruit juice

Top with a white cheese like feta and some dried cranberries

I saw this on one of the cooking programs and now make it all the time.

Visit to a Hamam

IMG_7411 IMG_6091 IMG_2255Earlier I had mentioned that there was a Hamam – or turkish bath at the end of street. Yesterday I plucked up the courage to peek inside and was greeted by 3 or 4 enthusiastic ladies who welcomed me to try. They even had a sheet of paper in English to explain the services rendered for only 40TL. I hurried home to leave my groceries and to tell Murray that I was going to try it.

Entering again, I was given a Turkish towel – a woven cotton piece of fabric with tassels on the ends and shown into a cubicle. The cubicle had a bench, a small stool and hooks on the wall. Wrapped in my Turkish sarong I was led up 4 steps into the steam room.

Before I continue, let me describe the layout.  The reception room had all marble floors with dark wood forming the cubicles. Beautiful Iznik tiles were on all the walls. The steam room also had marble floors, marble halfway up the walls, a marble bench that ran around the circumference of the room with marble sinks attached to the walls every 4 feet. A large flat marble platform about 15 inches off the floor was in the centre underneath a large dome with windows to let in the light. Above the marble on the walls were the most incredibly beautiful Iznik tiles I have yet to see. They certainly rivalled if not exceeded the beauty of the tiles in the many mosques, etc. we have seen so far – all in a dumpy little place at the end of our rather ordinary street.

Stage 1: An attendant gave me a bowl and indicated that I was to sit beside one of the sinks and pour water over myself.  I watched the other ladies and followed their examples.  There were 4 other clients in the room at various stages in the process so I could see what to expect.  

Stage 2: At the end of ten minutes my attendant motioned for me to go over to the marble platform. She doused the surface with water and I laid down on my front. She then proceeded to scrub my entire body with a very scratchy mitt. With a sharp tap on my bottom she indicated that I was to turn over. Once on my back, the same process happened all on my front. I kept reminding myself that when this was finished I would be a glowing beauty!!  Another sharp tap and I was taken back to the sink and rinsed off.

Stage 3: Back on the marble slab on my front, my backside was lathered in soap with a little massage on my toes – that felt good. Another tap and I was supposed to turn over  – but I was slathered in soap and nearly fell off trying to roll – she was used to this happening and guided me to the right position. With my arms flung over my head my whole front was vigorously lathered. She massaged my shoulders and nearly killed me with her strong bony fingers. Another tap and I was told to sit up while she washed my neck, ears and scalp. Gingerly getting up and putting on my special rubber bath slippers I once more went over to the sink to be rinsed off – but this time with COLD water – what a  shock!!  

Stage 4: Sitting down again next to the sink, she washed and rinsed my hair and all was over.

Once home I realized I was totally exhausted and had to go to bed for an hour!! Would I do it again? Hmmm – The Beautyland Spor Club has a Turkish Beauty treatment with essential oils, soft music, etc., —-maybe.


One of our friends wondered if I had noticed that my clothes were getting tight.  Sacrificing some of our precious baggage allowance, i have brought our bathroom scale!  I haven’t gained any weight and Murray has lost 6 pounds.  We walk a lot and really don’t eat much bread because the Turkish bread is usually pretty tasteless and a little dry.  We don’t usually eat dessert – when I go to our little grocery store I pick up 2 chocolate bars – one dark and one milk.We usually limit ourselves to 3 squares a day and I don’t buy more until both are gone.


One of the fun things about being on the Asian side is that we have to take the ferries to see just about everything because the old part of the city and the church are on the European side.

On one of our journeys we suddenly noticed that the engines had been thrown into reverse. Looking up we could see that we were heading towards the breakwater. In the end, the driver managed to pull the boat around and we were just fine. No one else seemed to notice or be concerned. We considered that there might be one of three possible reasons why this might have happened: 

It was the driver’s first day

He was on his cell

He had had to go to the bathroom and left one of the tea guys in charge

Another day we were returning at rush hour. We have told you how crazy the road traffic is well … imagine the same scenario on the water. Ferries everywhere – honking at each other, racing across 2 lanes of traffic and nearly running into one another.  It is a crazy city because there are just so many people to move from point to point. fifty years ago there were 2 million people here – now there are 18 million!!


You just cannot begin to imagine the sheer magnitude of the people in this city!  When we first arrived it was relatively calm because the tourist season had not yet started.  About a week or so after we arrived the first cruise ships arrived in the port and then the long lines of tour busses started to appear on the streets. Now the schools are closed for the summer and the children are home, and parents are taking their holidays – it is simply chaos. A walk anywhere means avoiding elbows, feet, strollers, and bodies in general. Hurrying to catch the ferry, for example, is a waste of effort – it cannot happen. 


Today Murray found a bit of heaven – an alley way dedicated to book shops.  Shop after shop with books from floor to ceiling and every possible bit of wall covered. They were in all languages so it was fun to go through English titles. One shop specialized in old ‘vinyls’ and another in cds.  

Orange Juice

Everywhere you go here you can buy freshly squeezed orange juice. The oranges here are especially delicious and juicy. Vendors conduct their business in a variety of ways. Open counters at the front of stores have colourful displays of oranges, grapefruits and pomegranates. Other vendors operate solo wherever there is a bare piece of pavement. Ferries have small ‘cafes’ where the oranges are ‘juiced’ and then the tea salesmen walk amongst the passengers selling cay (tea), orange juice and tost cheese. The most endearing experience we had was in our beloved Galata in a tiny side street. A fellow had his juicer set up with a tiny display of fruit. We asked him for 2 cups of juice and he graciously led us 10 steps across the street to a tiny table with 2 stools. As we sat there he squeezed oranges for us and then delivered the juice to our table. So lovely.

Funniest juice moment:  This morning, on the ferry, the tea guy came by and insisted on giving us orange juice -as if it were a gift – he also tried to press a tost cheese on us as well but I very strongly drew my fingers across my throat to indicate I was stuffed and couldn’t. Drinking the juice thus forced upon us we were only too fully aware that this was not a gift and if we were to walk off the ferry without paying we would be barraged with an invective tirade of abuse. The next time the salesman passed by Murray gave him 5 TL which was more than than the cost.

At the end of our trip, as we were leaving the ferry, the guy had the nerve to laugh at us and make a gesture that said ‘I really pulled a fast one on you’. This is all part of the culture here.


2 thoughts on “Tenth Turkish Epistle

  1. Jeannie Hallstead

    Dear Diana,

    Thank you so much for your continuing epistles. I love the stories of your adventures! I am off to Winnipeg tomorrow for a week so I will be touch when I come back. Our friend Jake Durksen died on Father’s Day. The funeral is this Saturday so I will be able to be there. Lots of processing to do. Just heard that my brother Tom has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. I hope to have time for some quiet to pray, reflect after Gabrielle’s graduation is over before I return to Victoria. I am not of bad cheer just a little overwhelmed.

    Keep your missives coming. I rejoice that you and Murray are having such a great adventure1

    Love you, my dear friend.


    Ps nothing yet to report on Brent re work but the family seem to be of good cheer.



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