While walking around the city, one cannot travel more than a few steps without coming across one of the many cats and dogs freely roaming around. Over the course of my time in Istanbul, I learned that the city has a history of treating its strays well, but it wasn’t always so. During the early 20th century, many cleansing campaigns were implemented to rid the city of unwanted animals (mostly dogs) that represented noisy disturbances, dirt and danger from diseases, such as rabies.
Hamams, also known as Turkish baths, are public bathing houses dating back from the Ottoman times. Going to a hamam is one of those experiences that I felt I had to do in Turkey. A bucket list item, if you will. However, I admit I went into this experience pretty blind as to what to expect.
Soft sunlight streamed down through branches gently swaying with the early afternoon breeze. Long blades of grass brushed across the broad legs of both the horse and rider as they rode through the Cappadocian landscape. Beautiful alabaster pillars rose high above them, silhouetted against a bright azure sky. The rider and horse trusting each other completely while riding in tandem to the relaxing sounds of nature…
That was what I initially pictured my first horseback ride to be like. In reality, although the landscape was breathtaking, the experience was comically awkward in how ungraceful it was.
I have to admit, I was a bit nervous (but excited!) when our guide asked our small group if anyone was claustrophobic as we’d be descending far underground into some cramped narrow tunnels.
Tatooine? Almost! George Lucas initially wanted to shoot Star Wars: The Phantom Menace here, but he was rejected by the Turkish government and picked Tunisia instead .