Please forgive these time-traveling posts, but I’m still catching up on our trip to Turkey from last December. I promise to be caught up soon!
It’s no secret that I love spas of all kinds, be it a 24-hour Korean spa in LA or just a simple sauna-hot tub situation near my home. So when Mustafa mentioned his family had a timeshare at a local hot spring resort a few hours from Izmir, I was game.
Our itinerary? Spending a week soaking in the natural thermal waters and eating plenty of home cooked meals. It seemed like the perfect detox to the wedding festivities that had unfolded a few days before. Plus I was nursing a pretty nasty chest cold, and this sounded like the best cure to my ailing immune system (like magic my cold was completely gone a few days after we arrived). So, Mustafa, his family and I took a little road trip from Izmir to the scenic seaside town of Edremit, with the sea on one side of us and the mountains on the other.
The resort itself was quite extensive, and felt like a small city within itself. There were many buildings with apartments, and a restaurant, café, market (a favorite discovery for ALL the Turkish snacks), and the spa itself. The spa area featured an outdoor thermal pool, sauna, steam room, Turkish bath, foot detox room (more on that later), massage rooms, and a mysteriously labeled “adventure shower” room. My favorite was the outdoor thermal pool, which sadly we discovered on the last day, but to be fair it was winter and the rainy/overcast weather prevailed most of the time.
Despite living in and visiting Turkey frequently, I’ve never been to a Turkish bath until this trip, and to be honest I was a bit disappointed. I feel like I had built it up too much in my head, and there was a little too much exfoliating, washing and hot water rinsing in a stuffy room in my humble opinion. Ah, well to each their own.
Another first for me was a foot detox, where I did a session with Mustafa and his parents. The idea behind it is that sticking your feet into a shallow tub of water with a low current of electricity running through your body will release all the toxins into the water. Pretty magical, right? After half an hour, you can match your water’s color with a chart that reveals your ailments-though Mustafa’s color said he should stop smoking, and he hasn’t touched a cigarette since college, so there’s that.
One day, we decided to drive down to the center of Edremit, and walk along the seaside, where the winter sea glowed and friendly street dogs followed us. We passed by an abandoned olive factory, since this area is known for its wild groves of olive trees growing everywhere.
Another day, we made our way over to the local outdoor market, where there were rows and rows of fresh produce, nuts, olives, fish, and dried fruit. Definitely put my local farmers’ market back in the US to shame. Olives are serious business here, and Mustafa’s parents bought three bags full. Case in point: on our way out we passed by a man selling only salt crystals for preserving the olives out of the back of his truck.
Food, Glorious Food
Okay, now to the most important part of the trip: the food. I seriously ate like a queen every day, since Mustafa’s mother cooked all the meals in our rental. My favorite was the kabak tatlısı (sugar pumpkin) that is drizzled with tahini sauce and sprinkled with walnuts.
We had kofte (Turkish meatballs), with grilled peppers and tomatoes (my all-time favorite meat dish).
For a lighter meal, there was kısır, a rice salad made with tomato paste and homemade pickles on the side.
There were also salads of all varieties, and in Turkey salads do not mess around.
And of course there were plenty of Turkish breakfasts, with freshly baked bread, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, arugula, homemade rose jam (sigh), and eggs. I’m drooling as I type this.
We also ate pide and lahmacun, with plenty of arugula, tomatoes, and lemon juice, outside at a roadside kofteci, one of my favorite things to do in Turkey, when on the go.
On our way home, we stopped in Dikili, where Mustafa’s dad led us through the center of town, past fish markets and mosques, to some of the best kofte from an unassuming shop managed by a single cook. I’ve had many a kofte in my time, and this was up there with the best (after my mother-in-law’s of course).
After a week of relaxing, watching plenty of Turkish TV, drinking copious amounts of Turkish tea, (and a little bit of work for me), we returned back to Izmir, refreshed and ready to embrace city life once more.
Have you ever been to a thermal resort spa in Turkey? Yay or nay to Turkish baths?