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Culinary Backstreets Istanbul Food Tour

Culinary Backstreets Istanbul Food Tour

Istanbul is many things: mosques, Islamic art, sprawling bazaars, East and West in the same city- you name it. For me, Istanbul was definitely about food. This was largely due to the food tour I went on with Culinary Backstreets, which showed me a different […]

Istanbul with Kids: Basilica Cistern

Istanbul with Kids: Basilica Cistern

Istanbul is full of sights and quite a few of them are located around Aya Sofia: Topkapi Palace, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern. You can comfortably just stay in the area for a couple of days exploring these treasures. […]

JulieMay Lingerie: Review

JulieMay Lingerie: Review

If you have had kids , when did you feel you were back into your pre-kids shape? For some people it might be a matter of months, for me it is more like two years mark. The weight goes, but it is the shape of the body and certain parts which take longer to come back to their usual contours. 

While I am waiting for things to get back to normal, I do not shy away from shaping lingerie, especially when I am going out or attending special events.  I have been sent a beautiful piece of shapewear lingerie from JulieMay and I am happy to say I am very pleased with the product. I was trialing out SunKiss Back Support Silk Bodysuit Shaper.

 

The look is luxurious and JulieMay range varies from classical pieces to sportswear and more unusual designs. I went for the classic one, as it is neutral in colour and can be worn under a dress or a top. The pieces are made with the use of natural materials, like silk,  and the lace pattern is very delicate.

Apart from looks, the bodysuit does what it is supposed to do. When I put it on, I could feel that lingerie was definitely holding everything in place and was supporting my natural shape , rather than squeezing me to the last breath. The straps are adjustable and can be made to the desired length. There is also a very helpful feature of  crotch with buttons, which means that you don’t need to take the whole thing off when you go to the bathroom!

Last thing I want to mention is that pieces are true to UK sizing chart, so you can be confident when ordering your own set. 

Disclaimer: The set was provided by JulieMay for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are my own.

#MeatMatters Challenge: Italian-style Steak Salad Recipe

#MeatMatters Challenge: Italian-style Steak Salad Recipe

Summer is coming soon and I love making lighter meals when the weather is warmer. I like my meals to  have a nutritional value , but not being as  heavy as winter stews or soups. Salad is a great way to achieve this, you can […]

Why I love Bepanthen?

Why I love Bepanthen?

As parents, we all have our preferences when it comes to certain baby care products and Bepanthen is one of my favourites for nappy changing creams. Here are my 5 reasons why: 1. Product Quality The cream delivers on its promise and whenever I use […]

Best Turkish Bath in Istanbul: Kilic Ali Pasha Hamami

Best Turkish Bath in Istanbul: Kilic Ali Pasha Hamami

Every single holiday has moments, which stay with you forever. In Istanbul, for me, it was definitely a visit to the Turkish Bath Kilic Ali Pasha Hamami, which has recently undergone a multi-million refurbishment  and was brought back to its former glory. 

I have experienced everything here: fantastic service, sleek design, welcoming environment and ultimate relaxation. I have enjoyed it so much, I would not hesitate going there each and every time I am back to Istanbul. 

You need to book your visit in advance, so that they are ready for you and can provide relaxing environment. The minute you step in this oasis of calm, you never want to leave. Hamam is open for women in the morning 8am till 4pm, and then staff change from female to male and men can come and enjoy the bath as well from 4:30pm till 11.30pm. Children are also welcome.

I booked a session in the afternoon and immediately upon entering I was greeted by lovely Betul, who has checked my reservation and offered me a welcome drink, a refreshing sherbet.

She then explained how things work and provided the key to the dressing cabin and locker. When I came to my dressing cabin, there was already a package waiting for me with flip-flops, towel and a wrap, which you use to go to the bath.

Your washer will meet you in the first room and  you can visit the bathroom if you wish. Then your washer will take you through to the main room with big marble stone and she will ask you to lie on it and get warm.

Nothing can prepare you for the sheer beauty , which you are about to experience when you lie on the marble. It is very simple, but nonetheless beautiful, you will be lying on your back and staring at the massive cupola with stars staring back at you.

Once you are warm and relaxed, the fun starts. The washer will prepare the bucket with water and loads of foam to use later, but the first part is scrubbing with a special mitt. She will scrub you so well, you would not believe how dirty you are. Excuse me, but I take the shower every day, yet I could not believe how much dirt there was! When the washer saw my puzzled expression, we laughed together. The dirt will be washed off and then the foam applied , using muslin cloth, which seem to generate more foam in the hands of the washer. 

This is also combined with body massage and further cleansing, so you are left completely relaxed after this and ready for a lie down on the cushioned sofa. If like me, you don’t want to wash your hair, it is absolutely fine, they will give you a shower cap to protect your hair, but if you want your hair washed, then there are hair driers available to use when you go back to the dressing room.

I don’t know which part of the experience I enjoyed most: the washing or the relaxing afterwards. Once the washer is finished you are taken back to the main open area of the hamam, where there are cushions and low sofas, where you can linger as much as you want to. Water and Turkish tea is complimentary, but you can also order selected teas and cookies to keep you sustained. Majority of women who were there came with a friend, so they were all happily gossiping and chatting around, but it did not take away from the atmosphere, as  there was enough space for everyone.

You can make the booking on Hamam website , so you know in advance what time to visit. You might say that £40.00 for a wash is a bit much, but believe me, once you are inside, the atmosphere and the service worth every penny. You would be able to experience  what it was like to go in a hammam in the olden days and this is priceless. Also, as the number of visitors is limited and determined by bookings, you never feel rushed or pushed by other people, so again the price reflects the quality delivered.

If you want to take any items with you, they have a lovely shop. One is inside the hamam, where you can buy cosmetics, and the other shop, with accessories mostly, is just immediately beside the entrance to the hamam. 

My visit to the Hamam was hosted by Kilic Ali Pasha Hamami, but all opinions are my own. 

Budapest Guide: Hungarian National Museum

Budapest Guide: Hungarian National Museum

Hungarian National Museum was one of the places I visited, while in Budapest.  It provides a great introduction to Hungarian History and the museum is manageable enough, so you don’t have a headache at the end of your visit.  The museum is divided into defined […]

Review: Procoal Marine Moisture Sheet Mask

Review: Procoal Marine Moisture Sheet Mask

What is your favourite activity on Friday night? Mine are masks, bath tubs and wine! What about “going out, restaurants and socialising with friends” I hear you say. I am a parent, remember? Restaurants will have to wait for the next 18 years! I have […]

Best Food Tour in Budapest: Taste Hungary Culinary Walk

Best Food Tour in Budapest: Taste Hungary Culinary Walk

Why do you travel? I travel for sights and food. Actually, I am not sure what makes me more excited when I am going to a new place: sights or food? Probably both in equal measure!

When I went to Budapest, I signed up for a Culinary Walk with Taste Hungary, a local company which has been guiding people like me in search of good food for more than 10 years. Taste Hungary offers several tours in Budapest, but they also have country-wide food and wine tours. 

We met with our guide Sara at the Central Market to start exploring. The building itself is probably the prettiest market I have ever been to: it is grand and has lots of interesting features inside and outside. 

We started off with a cottage cheese snack, which Hungarian children love.  To my surprise, it tasted exactly the same as a Russian snack I used to have as a child. To wake us up, Sara offered us a herbal liquor Unicum, which was quite strong and apparently used by Hungarians in medicinal purposes.  

Next dish was one of my favourites: langos! Essentialy, it is  fried dough, generously sprinkled with either garlic or sour cream and cheese. When you are walking the streets of Budapest,  you will spot many places which sell langos, and sometimes they top it up with Nutella and God knows what else, but Sara assured us that the proper way to eat langos is just plain or topped with garlic. Nutella/marshmallow varieties were invented to please tourist tastes.

While we walking in the market, Sara talked us through the different stalls  and we also managed to squeeze a tasting of different sausages and pickles. If you like  sausage, my advice would be to buy it at the market , where you can try different varieties. I left sausage shopping until the airport and although it tasted ok, the sausage did  not replicate the flavour we tried at the market. 

After all these little tastings, it was now time for lunch and Sara took us to a simple place, which was full, so we had to stand outside at the tables. I take it as a good sign when the place is full on a weekday! Basically, this place already had a variety of cooked meats/ vegetables and you just point to what you want to eat. We tried sausages, pork, roast duck, goulash and blood sausage. After this lunch, I was  full but it was not the end of the tour yet!  I was hoping I could walk a little bit to the next tasting stop and more food can somehow fit in my stomach. 

Next stop was an artisan chocolate shop, which produces small batches of chocolates and chocolate bars with  a wonderful variety of flavours. You can choose couple of chocolates to try and also shop to your heart content. The chocolate quality was fantastic, even though I thought, that prices were on a higher side, so you have to be either a chocolate expert or love chocolate beyond the monetary value. 

After chocolate, it was time to discover what a traditional grand cafe in Budapest is like. Before going to Budapest, I have seen lots of “Best Cafes to visit in Budapest” lists and New York Cafe or Cafe Gerbeaud  usually top these lists. While grand and certainly beautiful, they somehow lacked the atmosphere for me, as there were no locals in sight, too many tourists and rush, rush, rush to go through as many people as possible.

Central Cafe also made it to the Best Cafe List, but this was a real gem. It was not full to the brim, it was beautiful inside and a selection of desserts was mouth watering. I can certainly stay here for a day, with cake and coffee by my side, while appreciating the view from the massive windows. We tried a selection of cakes and Sara also told us the stories associated with each of the desserts. 

Last stop was at Taste Hungary cosy store, just next to the National Hungarian Museum, where we had an opportunity to try Hungarian wines. I am raising my hand and confessing I am guilty of never trying a Hungarian wine before! Have you? 

If you look at a menu in any Budapest restaurant, majority of the positions will be taken by Hungarian wines. There are 22 wine-producing regions in Hungary and after 4 days of sampling various wines with my meals, I can assure you that Hungarians do not really need to rely on any other wine regions in the world. 

Wines were served with yet another round of cheeses, breads and olives. We were given a quick introduction to each of the wines and my favourite was of course the Tokaj wine. We were also invited to shop after the tour was finished as there was a great variety of wines on offer and plenty of helpful advice.

Overall, I thought the tour was a great introduction to the Hungarian food and drinks, with plenty of ideas of where to eat in the following days of my trip. Our guide Sara was knowledgeable and accommodating, she was constantly serving, making portions and making sure we got the best bits. You can book Culinary Walk on Taste Hungary website, which will guarantee you the place on the day and there are quite a few tours to choose from. Now, I need a second visit to go and eat more nice food in Budapest!

My ticket for Taste Hungary Food Tour was provided at media rate, but all opinions are my own.

Best Thermal Spa to visit in Budapest

Best Thermal Spa to visit in Budapest

Budapest can be enjoyed at every season: in the summer you can appreciate balmy weather, while enjoying your coffee on numerous terraces that the city has got.  In  the winter you can go to the Christmas market or warm yourself in thermal spa waters. There […]