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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hammam Bath: an erotic experience

I happily peeled off my clothes that was matted to my perspiring skin from exploring Athens on foot

Slipping on my pink string bikini, wrapping the peştemal, a red and white checked cloth, around my waist and changing into the sandals given, i was ready for my virgin hamman experience.
I was led through the soğukluk (the cooling down room) into the hararet (the hot room). 

The room was impressive. Illumindated in an orange glow with an echo if you speak, the room was completely covered in marble featuring several basins and an impressive göbektaşı — the central, raised platform above the heating source.
Removing the cloth from my waist, i tried to relax and sweat next to a kurna, the small marble basin. I could fill the basin with hot, cold or warm water which i then douse myself with. Initially, i used warm but later found that cold water was the most pleasing. Especially after lying face up on the göbektaşı examining the architecture and skylights placed on the ceiling. I got restless after lying for ten minutes, but forced myself to lie down again, like sun-bathing.

The hammam bath is a small place, they can only serve 3 customes at a time so its highly recommended to make reservations way in advance. We did ours a month ahead. The washing area by a masseuse is seperated by a marble panel from where i was told to sweat and relax. I peeped, wanting to get a heads-up of what's going to happen to me when it's mine turn. 

All i saw was one perfect figure of a woman & man lying face down on seperate marble tables, enjoying their sudsy massage. Only locals would know that historically, the Turkish mothers would visit hammas to suss out potential daughter-in-laws. My eyes traced the petite hands that firmly caressed that man's back. His masseuse was wearing a little black bikini top with a peştemal tied around her waist. Glancing over to the female customer, her male masseuse was half naked with a boyish face like Corey Monteith frome Glee. Damn, must the Greeks all look like gods.

It was my turn. Clutching my washcloth, i gingerly walked in. There was a change in masseuses. My friend got a female masseuse who seemed to wear nothing underneath but wrapped by a peştemal like a tube dress. My male masseuse wore a cross necklace around his neck, sport a 5'o clock shadow sported and had chiseled abs. He looked like Ryan Gosling. I licked my lips, my throat felt dry.

I laid down on the marble table and surrended myself to Ryan. His voice was gruff and he whispered next to my ear what's he's going to be doing to me. I had to resist not to have my lips curl into a smile, instead i acted nonchalent. 

There was a certain technique the way warm water was splashed onto me. With my eyes closed, i could only imagine water droplets glistening on his biceps as he swirled the kese, a plant used in the process. 

He then put on gloves to scrub me. Many people will not have a pleasant experience as they akin to being sandpapered at this moment. But his touch was firm yet gentle, i do not remember experiencing any pain, only pleasure

The last time i lay helpless, with someone bathing me was in Banyan Tree where i had the rainforrest trestment. I remember it was a somewhat uncomfortable feeling because i was lying down while the shower above me was of many nozzles and water was just getting into everywhere that i felt like i was drowning. Every once of my body wanted to jump up to say "let me shower myself".  

Ryan is skilled. As he soaks me intermittedly with water, i just lay there, melting into the marble. Even when he doused my head with water, the water seem to miraclously part the moment it touches my forehead so it runs down my cheeks and not my nose. He would then place his thumbs and wipe away any remaining droplets. I never knew the groove between my cheekbone and eye socket could also be a g-spot.

He whispers in my ear again to turn around, for some loving on my back (ok, he didn't say it like that). With one hand, he pulled at my string and my bikini fell apart. Dangling a lacy, foam-filled cloth, he piled alot of foam on my back and begin a sudsy body massage. I had to suppress a moan. 

He uses the kese afew more times, and it feels like a gentle whip striking my back. He asks if i would like conditioner in my hair, i said yes. Anything to prolong this session. 

Ryan tied back my bikini as he announced the end of my session. I smiled, finding it an irony how men can swiftly remove a bikini but have no clue how to tie one back. He had double-knotted mine. Blinking away the water in my eyes, i sat up and there he was, his wet hair sleeked back. The scrub, wash and massage only took 30 mins but it felt like an eternity. I understood the saying that time stops when you're in love. I was in love with the hammam experience, truly an otherworldy feeling. 

Ali-Mama Hammam at 45 Euros
Hammam Baths
17 Agion Asomaton St & 1 Melidoni St

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Local's Guide to Barcelona

We had the honour of a gorgeous Spaniard to show us Barcelona, renowned for architecture sculpted by the infamous Gaudi.
A loving friend & gracious host.
Where to Go
I'll skip the usual tourist suspects but what A did was point us to a local market, Mercat de l'Abaceria (less touristy than the one found at La Rambla) which i enjoy very much just taking in the smells, sounds and sights.
Zoom in photo for opening times.
Fish Monger-of-the-year

 We rented bicycles and cycled the city, marveling at architecture and making fun of the some-say-penis, some-say-missile building.
If you want to see a rehearsed flamenco show, there are plenty which any hotel can recommend you. However, if you want an authentic flamenco experience, check out this tight drinking hole Maians on Carrer De Saint Carles
I'm not sure if there'll be girls in traditional costumes stamping their feet (if i had balls, they'll shrink) but when we popped out heads in the last time, this was what we saw.
It doesn't cost to have a look, so it may be worthwhile to check it out. The area seem to be home to many small rustic watering holes.

If Ministry of Sound impressed you with its many rooms and deco, then Boca Chica situated in an alley between Rambla de Catalunya and Passeig de Gracia will blow your socks off. A restaurant, (cocktail) bar, lounge and club all rolled into an apartment style, the spectacular design (as you would expect of Barcelona) reeks of luxury and style.
blink and you'll miss the entrance
the bar
the restaurant
It's not necessary to dine in, you can just visit the loo. We all went there because of the toilets. Yes, you heard me right. The FUNCTIONING bathroom located in the basement is a WORKING NIGHTCLUB with an ACTIVE DJ spinning, loos flushing, drinks spilling and sinks running. For once, there is reason for girls to visit the bathroom in an entourage and hanging out longer in the toilet is not for taking a selfie.

Fyi, it does not stink. So go in piss  peace.

Walking around Barcelona is a discovery trail on its own. Keep your eyes peeled for graffiti like these. I collected 5 on Instagram

And if you chance upon a Spanish funfair, join in the fun with a game of Bingo! Not understanding a word of Spanish is part of the fun. Pay 1 Euro for a game card / a round, and watch out for the numbers being called. If you score a row horizontally ( i think) faster than anyone else in the crowd, you shout Bingo! The prizes are pretty crappy, random and useless but 8 Euros got us lots of laughter. 
we were the 'last ones standing'

Where to Eat
Because of our local host, we ate at places where the food was to die for. No doubt the most memorable part of the trip were the tapas, paellas and seafood that gave a foodgasm. Even my pants got tighter but it was a sacrifice I willingly made. 
Thirsty travellers
P.S  The Spanish do not drink sangrias. It is NOT a local's drink.
These places do not speak English, be adventurous and endeavour these places. High chance that anything you order is going to hit the right spot. 
Best to make reservations at El Mundial as this tapas bar always has a long queue. Try ordering the croquettes, prawns and baby squids. 
Seafood, noodle and squid ink paellas. 
Not a pretty picture, but the noodle paella is a Barcelona signature. One of the oldest restaurant near the coast that only locals will know, Can Manel serves the best paellas around. Missing Chinese food, i loved the paella noodles!

The octopus drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with chilli flakes is also orgasmic for octo lovers. 
Caramel custard pudding is a traditional dessert. 
If you are looking for alternative dining, you can try pop-up restaurants.  As if guessing the secret location isn't hard enough, you will also need to try translating over at the Facebook page. Otherwise if successful, you pay 35 Euros for a 3-4 course meal which was a delight making merry with friends.  

Our secret location was in a clothing / furniture store. 
Where to Stay

The fanciest hostel i've ever stayed, i highly recommend Casa Gracia. A stone's throw from Plaza Catalyuna, it is newly furnished, gorgeous and provides the best hostel breakfast spread with alfresco dining. 

My Nice Weekend

I would like to think unsupervised mean NUDE sunbathing.
Spot the topless females.
Ferrochino has indeed dozens of flavours. The most exotic i think, is cactus.
It tastes minty, refreshing but bland. 
Monaco was filled with old men with fast cars and young chicks. 
A Nicoise platter. Vegetable fritters, cold shell fish and anchoives.
Another typical Nicoise dish is meat stuffed vegetable. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Bond Weekend

For my dad's 60th birthday, i thought he should be treated like James Bond. Without the dazzling suits, flashy cars and sexy girls. Instead i put him in a not-so sexy harness, crown him with a helmet. The only Bond association really, is achieving greater heights. Literally. 

Hear him scream.
The Gorge Adventure (CHF 135) from the Alpin Center is a dynamic Fixed Rope Route that challenged me but didn't break a sweat. I didn't break a sweat because the Zermatt altitude plus the air among the gorges (Furi 1865m - Zermatt 1620m) was cool despite being summer. While i don't have a fear of heights, i found it challenging in the beginning because i was fearful of falling off! The adventure starts off with navigating cliff faces while attached to steel cables. However, it was no easy feat. 
Navigating the cliff faces was the hardest. After i got over the initial fear, it was a breeze. Because of our small group, we took time to admire the imposing rock formations and the floods of water running underneath. 

The highlights of the traverse are three abseiling passages, three flying foxes (of which the longest is 80 metres), and a pendulum swing (video above). It takes some balls to jump, a lethal injection of adrenaline.
The pendulum swing.

Flying across gaps.
Having visited Zermatt from above, it was a really nice experience seeing it from a different angle. 
Zermatt Matterhorn in Spring (May).
We stayed dry with the Gorge Adventure but it was a wild wild wet adventure canyoning in Mt Blanc. I had never tried canyoning before and it was SO MUCH FUN. I got to know about it because a friend did this as a Bachelor's Party idea. 

We did our adventure with OXO and the guide (forgot his name) was fantastic and handsome too. He even did a twirl and skip (show-off!) as he came down one of those waterfalls, a pity i didn't catch it on camera.

Not knowing what to expect of canyoning, we were instructed to get changed on the road.
Dry suits were provided to keep us a little warmer.
All geared up!
There are various levels of canyoning. As it was my first time and my dad is 60, i went for the 2 hour journey with maximum abseil heights of 25m.
My dad was such a trooper. The youngest was 8, it was a great family activity as well as couple bonding.

Photo bombed by the 8 year old sliding off.
Consisting of abseils, sliding off rock surfaces and jumping off cliffs, it was pretty damn exhilarating. Just what an adrenaline junkie need!
Even though it was summer, the water was cold enough to give a brain freeze but thankfully, i only start feeling it nearing the end of the journey.
She looks like she's feeling his head for fever.
For 60 euros, canyoning is definitely a must-try for the gutsy when in Mt Blanc. It is a popular activity during summer so it won't be as pleasant when the area is congested. We were lucky because we managed to be the first group so we were always ahead of the crowd. Observing the other groups waiting, i reckon our guide from OXO was the best! He was the only one with alot of flair in executing many of our slides and jumps. Just watch the video below, in the last frame, we slide down the rock surface LIKE A STAR.
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