Sightseeing in Istanbul is an endless proposition; there are so many amazing sights to see that you just can’t do it all in one trip. Loree and Cher are doing just that today, with a guide and the Manchurian assassins in toe; but today I’m choosing laziness over culture, massages over large crowds and pool life over mosques. It goes without saying that I have done all the sightseeing in Istanbul many, many times through the years, so I feel OK with taking the day off. My own Nibbles is the best companion for such lazy days, we both truly appreciate the art of “Slagging” and do so with such grace and meaning. But nothing happens in Turkey before the usual, amazing Turkish breakfast served on the terrace on the waterfront; it is by far one of my favorite traditions in the world…not to mention, fattening!
Today’s highlight is a massage session with Olga, the hefty, scary looking Russian lady who looked so much like a KGB agent than a massage therapist. The moment she lays her hands on me, I realize this will NOT be a relaxing hour. She’s a powerhouse of a woman with hands so strong, I am literally in tears from the pain she’s inflicting on me. All along she keeps telling me of all the many physical shortcomings she’s discovering in my pathetic body, immediately followed by a brutal painful solution that has me screaming even louder. Clearly, she is adamant on informing me of all the many areas in my body where I apparently collect excessive water, or excessive fat, or stress knots, or lactic acid! I feel like just hanging myself and calling it a day! Having said this, it is probably one of the best massages I have ever had in my life and once I get over the excruciating pain, my body feels brand new and ready for a BIG nap! I don’t think I ever cried so much during a massage session.
The classic Turkish breakfast (Borrowed Image)
The day goes by in no time and before you know it, it’s time to get ready for a real treat: dinner on the Berrak Instanbul III, cruising up and down the Bosphorus. After the obligatory cocktail time by the pool at 9PM, we are off to the Four Season to pick up the “Diva” Gang for our last night in Istanbul; tomorrow we are off to the South of Turkey for a “Yachting” week around the Mediterranean. We cross the waters and arrive at the Four Season Hotel to pick up the girls; Cher is now surrounded by fans and hotel staff trying to get a photo with her. Tonight we also have the pleasure of having a few more very special friends joining us, among which the dashing Omer Karajan and his mate Alasdair Dundas, Endar, the Turkish beauty Ozlem Onal, Gabriella and date and the one and only “General K”. Once the whole lot is aboard, we start with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the top deck of the elegant, Berrack Istanbul III: a 19th century handmade, teak boat complete with white suited waiters helping you with all your needs.
The Barrack Istanbul III arriving to pick us up
Docking at The Four Season Hotel
Another view of our boat
The backdrop for the entire evening is the magical city of Istanbul’s panorama as you can only experience from the water, with all its monuments, palaces, bridges and sheer beauty. Besides a few rough moments when the wind picks up and glasses, nut trays, hats and wigs are flying around the deck and into the Bosphorus; cocktail time is a great opportunity to catch up with my dear friend Ozlem Onal, who is one of the most ridiculously beautiful creatures I have ever met; on top of that, she’s incredibly bright and so, so sassy and naughty…right up my alley! Another favorite of mine is Omer Karajan and Alasdair Dundas, the chicest and most fun couple in the continent, one a native of Turkey and the other an English man; I’ve know both for almost 30 years and believe me, it’s never a dull moment with these two. After a few hours of serious pollinating, it’s time to go to the lower deck terrace for dinner; tonight’s menu is all Turkish specialties, mainly fresh fish dishes caught in the morning. There must be 15 different dishes on this incredible buffet; I recognize several of them, but I’m definitely not afraid of trying all the new food so beautifully displayed in front of me. Turkish cuisine is largely the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which can be described as a fusion of Central Asian, Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Balkan cuisines. The focus is on vegetables and fish, which is readily available in large quantity in the country.
The Gang boarding
Nibbles and Omer Karajan
Raphael Tessier and Ozlem Onal
View of the Royal Palace from the boat
The Ciragan Palace
Istanbul’s bridge at dusk
Loree Rodkin and Gabriella with the Palace behind them
The delightful Endar and friend
The most beautiful girl in the world: my Nibbles
At the dinner table I have Raphael on one side and Cher on the other and there is no lack of laughter here; Cher is on a roll tonight and Raphael is bursting of happiness from all this new stuff he’s experiencing, so far from his home in Montreal. The evening goes one for hours and hours, though it seemed like just minutes; finally it’s time to take the girls back to the hotel and for all of us to retire for a goods night sleep…tomorrow it’s off to Göçek in the South of Turkey.
Some of the many Turkish delights offered for dinner (Borrowed Image)
Grilled fish (Borrowed Image)
Turkish fish stew (Borrowed Image)
The medieval castle on the Bosphorus
The stunning Mosque on the Bosphorus
The military academy
A very happy Robert Kass with his two besties: Loree Rodkin and Nibbles
This is one of those moments where you really feel so lucky; not only for the obvious privilege of being able to experience such amazing places, cultures and traditions but most of all, realizing how much love and friendship you have all around you, something that is more valuable than any possession in the world. Tonight magic is once again, thanks to the kindness and generosity of our hosts Mr. and Mrs. K.
Thank you, I love you so much!!!!!