Today, April 20th, we headed out to a spa! Not just any spa. No, not us. We headed out to a spa built 2,000 years ago by the Romans and still in operation today. Water temperatures vary from 38C to 140C. My cup of coffee this morning was 140C. That will hard boil an egg so I'm sure no one goes in that. Flat Stanley [photo] got a free ticket to come along, so we brought him with us. He has never been to a spa and is looking forward to it, but he can't get wet, so I'm not sure what he'll do. He can't get bent, so a massage is out of the question too. To make matters worse, he speaks not a word of Turkish.
I'm slowly learning Turkish but the results are uneven. After one effort in Turkish to get directions, a policeman asked me where I learned to speak Turkish. But when I was looking for the Arilik Çeşmesi metro stop and said "Hello, excuse me, where is Arilic Çeşmesi Metro?" - which is
"Merhaba. Afedersiniz, nerede Arilic Çeşmesi Marmaray?"
the person I asked said
"No speak English."
After a 75 minute fast ferry ride across the Sea of Marmara, we caught a minibus [photo] to Thermal - that's the name of the area with the hot springs - for 3TL (US$1) each.
[How did that picture get upside down and how do I fix it? FS doesn't know and neither do I.]
Anyhow, at the spa it says that it is the best in the world. Not on my estimation but it surely was nice, in a beautiful spot. Ojo Caliente in New Mexico and - particularly - Eco Thermales in Costa Rica are better.
After getting into our bathing suits, Donna and I went into a 20' x 40' pool, about 3' deep. The water was perfect for me: 104F. It had a vaulted ceiling and an adjacent frigid pool which must have been in the 40sF. Brrrr.... Tjere was also a sauna which was too hot to bear. We decided against the massage, because it was only a 20 minute massage. Then we went to the Olympic sized outdoor pool. The water was just as hot as the 104 pool but was probably 102 because the cool air was reducing its temp.
Hot springs wipe me out but we then went to a huge lunch which did the rest. I slept into Yalova on the minibus and we boarded the ferry. If we come back, we will go see the waterfalls via minibus from the ferry harbor.
We have had a WONDERFUL month in Istanbul. Beautiful, friendly, adventurous, cultured, clean, efficient, delicious... just some of the adjectives we use about this city. We are ready now to go on to Budapest - I'm missing pork sausage. Donna and I both miss foot massages at the end of a long month of walking. I'm really looking forward to seeing Trevor and Eleanor who will join us in less than 5 days!!
In 50 weeks or so we will be back in Istanbul for another month - that time living in Kadiköy - just south of Üskendar. I know that right now Istanbul is my favorite city in the world, but after our month of May in Paris, I will be conflicted again between the two.