The Ultimate Destination Wedding: Part 2

After exploring the city and getting our bearings, next up on the itinerary was the Hamam or the traditional Turkish bath. The only briefing I got so far was 1) bring a bathing suit, 2) it was women only (from the BIL’s email) and 3) it’s just like a spa party only that it was going to be in a traditional bath house.

Being conservatively Asian/Filipino, I made sure it wasn’t the naked type of bath house. Issues, man! Haha. We went to the only hamam downtown to meet up with the rest of the female wedding party: the in-laws (mom, sister, cousins, aunties), plus their neighbors. Since the rest of the foreign wedding party were not due to fly in yet, we were the only foreigners there.

They decorated the bath house with tulle and lots of balloons with the Turkish evil eye printed on them.

The bridal hamam is a tradition that goes back in the old days. It was when the women of the groom’s family go to the bath house with the the bride so that they can “inspect” the bride not just on a physical level, but also on the spiritual and emotional side.

We changed into our bathing suits and gathered at the center of the hamam for some traditional dancing (which involved a lot of clapping, hand movement, and me struggling to follow the rhythm) and food. Then they told us we could go inside for the bath if we were ready.

We went into the main bath area–which was one big room with a domed ceiling, a huge marble slab in the middle, and mini bath cubicles around it. The hamam lady (a huge woman in a string bikini with two bath mitts tucked on both sides of her bottoms) will motion for you to lie down on the marble, and then she’ll scrub ALL your dead skin away. Then she’ll pull your top off and scrub your boobies too. So much for being conservative. Haha.

Before everyone changes into dry clothes, we all gathered around the bride and the moms and aunties and the single ladies would pour rose water over her and said prayers for abundance and happy marriage for her. That was the most beautiful part of the hamam 🙂

Of course, spa/bath=indulgence so we had chocolates and coffee after.

One of the aunties there could tell fortunes just by reading the bottom of our coffee cups. My mom’s and my sister’s fortunes were pretty accurate. Mine was funny. “You think too much.” Spot on.

Oh, and I had to go braless after since my sister forgot her bra and she borrowed mine. You can’t say no the bride!

Yay for traditions! 🙂 I’m happy that my sister and her husband decided to go all out on letting us experience what it’s like to married in a different culture. My mom is actually challenged to do the same when they come over to Manila for the Philippine version of the wedding!


The Ultimate Destination Wedding (Part 1)

The Ultimate Destination Wedding = Most Epic Wedding of 2011!

When my sister got engaged last December, my first question was “Does that mean we’re all going to Turkey for the wedding?!” When they finally confirmed that we were indeed flying out to Turkey, I got excited. Even more so when my brother-in-law emailed us our itinerary which included traditional bridal Turkish bath, Henna night, and a side trip to Ephesus with the entire wedding party!

We arrived a week early, and explored the lovely city of Izmir. Izmir is an hour by plane from Istanbul and sits along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. We stayed in the Karsiyaka side most of the time, but crossed the sea by ferry to explore Alsancak and Konak too.

I love the laidback vibe of Izmir. I think any city beside the sea (or a body of ocean) moves at less hectic pace (oh no, wait–I take it back. Manila Bay doesn’t elicit the same feeling haha) leaves you with a calmer and happier state of mind.

Getting around the city was easy since their transportation system is organized, efficient, and friendly–there were mini buses, ferries, and cabs ready to take you wherever you need to go. You just have to struggle a bit because not a lot of people speak English here so gestures and addresses on hand are must-haves. Since this is not a very touristy place, you’ll feel less paranoid about being scammed into tourist traps and the locals are actually surprised and happy to see foreigners around town. Yep, take it from the only Asians who were in town that week.

The only problem I encountered here was the weather, simply because I didn’t pack enough clothes for a sunny trip. My suitcase was filled with fall/winter stuff thinking that summer was about to go away but I was wrong! Good thing shopping in Izmir was also FUN (hello Mango outlet!).

Next up: the hamam!

This is Why I’m Fat: Turkish edition













Two weeks in Turkey ended with my jeans crying out for help.

First meal upon arriving in Izmir was at my sister’s in-laws’ house. Her mother-in-law made us an amazing dinner of traditional Turkish dishes–stuffed green peppers, steamed rice in grape leaves, kofte, and my new favorite–chicken with walnuts or Cerkez Tavugu. Not sure if it was meant to be an appetizer but it makes for a great meal when paired with bread.

Of course, we had the best of everything from Izmir and Istanbul. My brother-in-law made sure we had shawarma (WAY different than how we know shawarma in the Philippines), Turkish kebab, medye (which is a nice snack made up of mussels and rice MUSSELS!), fresh fish, their version of pizza called Lahmacun (really thin crust “pizza”–just meat and cheese that you roll with arugula and tomatoes), coffee, Turkish ice cream (with the matching “magic show”) and what Yigit calls “the best burger in Istanbul” over at Kizilkayalar in Taksim Square. The best burger was actually a wet burger with a tasty patty inside soft bread dipped in tomato sauce and heated on the oven before serving. Don’t believe me? Ask Anthony Bourdain.

Man I miss Turkey. I’m getting really hungry now.