The Year of Living Deliciously

Article by: unknown author

Sun December 16, 2012 | 00:00 AM

Turkey-HamamBath_0The Hamam or Turkish bath house

Growing up an aspiring filmmaker, one of my favorite films was “The Year of Living Dangerously” featuring lanky Sigourney Weaver and diminutive Linda Hunt (and a strapping, young Mel Gibson) in the sexy drama about an attempted coup in Indonesia. I used the name of that film as my tongue-in-cheek explanation to family and friends when I decided to become an entrepreneur launching a boutique hotel company at age 26 with no industry experience.

Fortunately, that dangerous experiment as a rebel entrepreneur translated into a 24-year career as the CEO of Joie de Vivre Hotels until two years ago when I decided the time had come for me to “live joie de vivre” more than “work Joie de Vivre.” But, it wasn’t until a year and a half later that I stumbled upon my new calling: becoming the world’s leading expert on festivals which led me to this pilgrimage to Turkey to visit the 739th annual Whirling Dervish festival commemorating the poet Rumi. I now call my life “The Year of Living Deliciously” as there are so many collateral benefits of searching the world for the most unique and exotic festivals.

One benefit of being in Turkey is experiencing a traditional public bathhouse and hamam. The Cappodocia area has great ones in both Goreme and Urgup. After a full day of touring or hiking/biking (great trails), show up at the bathhouse ready to get worked over by your bath attendant who will exfoliate you, cleanse you, and give you a brief massage (unless you pay for a longer one). In the meantime, you get to enjoy a sauna, steam room, cold water plunge, and the hamam where you can get worked over by a Turkish massage therapist.

Post-hamam, grab a Turkish bite. Heavy and not all that imaginative, Turkish food started to grow on me (and not just around my waistline). But, the crescendo of the meal is Turkish coffee or tea and some of the best restaurants don’t serve you their own swill but they outsource this to the specialty brewer down the street. This means that you have a young tea/coffee deliverer running up and down the streets during the day that adds to the culturally-unique flavor of visiting Turkey. My recommendation: they call it “tourist tea” but I fell in love with the apple tea.