The main event for the day was our Turkish cooking class, but our first order of business was moving our luggage to our next hotel. Since it was Jon's birthday, we celebrated by staying in the Ritz-Carlton! After that, we took advantage of the city's excellent tram system to head down to the older part of the city. The weather was a bit overcast but certainly nicer than the rain shower we'd experience the previous afternoon, so I enjoyed our walk down the stone streets to Cooking Alaturka.
Our class consisted of 8 people: two of the others there were American, and the rest were from Europe. The teacher was from California, but she has lived in Turkey for 11 years and was quite knowledgeable about the food we would be preparing. Assisting us in the kitchen was a chef (the instructor called him a "kitchen magician") from Southern Turkey who, despite not speaking much English, entertained us all with his dry sense of humor. For example, I was adding some grains to a soup we were making, and he motioned to me as a joke that I should count out 800 grains individually! All of us actively participated in different parts of the preparation, and soon we were ready to eat.
We'd prepared a red lentil soup, an eggplant stuffed with tomatoes and onions, zucchini fritters, vine leaves stuffed with meat and rice, and a semolina-cake dessert. Everything tasted great, although it was quite a large meal.
Full and a bit drowsy, we made our way back to the Ritz and had a little time to relax in the nicely appointed room. Then, we each had a chance to experience a Turkish hamam (bath) offered by the spa at the hotel. It was a very relaxing procedure, but the fact that the practitioner was using a bucket of soapy water and a sponge made me feel a bit like an '84 Buick getting a car wash! Still, it was a great way to enjoy some of our vacation time.
We didn't feel too much like venturing far for dinner, but we did find a nice place to get a pide (pizza) for dinner and enjoy the excitement of the Istikal Caddesi on the weekend.