Exotic Beauty Treatment Of The Moment

photo credit Taste of Life

My experience with Turkish baths, or Hamams, was an interesting one to stay the least. I’ve experienced an Arabic bath when I was in Spain. I figured this would be pretty much the same, but I was so wrong. In a good way. I went to the Ayasofoya Hamam which was originally constructed in 1556. Here’s a little background:

“The Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam in Istanbul was designed and built by Mimar Sinan, the chief Ottoman architect. It was built at the request of Hurrem Sultan (Roxelana), the wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century (1556-1557 AD). It was built where the ancient public baths of Zeuxippus (100-200 AD) used to stand, between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. The area is also particularly significant as the site where the Temple of Zeus once stood.”

The men and women entrances are completely separate and on opposite ends of the building. I started the experience by entering the Hamam on the far end closest to the Blue Mosque.

I went in and was greeted by the manager. She led me in to the very quiet and dim room with relaxing, soft Turkish music playing and I filled out the standard “do you have any injuries” paperwork. Once I was done with that, I went to the changing area where you remove everything. When I say everything, I mean EV-ER-Y-THING. They do provide you with disposable underwear that feel more like a loose peace of cotton than underwear. And I got a purple peshtamal (turkish hand woven towel) to wrap around myself. I then met the attendant who would be performing the bath on me. She took my hand, and while holding hands, she led me to the next room. That was different for me. Usually they say something like “come with me” and you follow behind them. But she took my hand, and led me to the next destination. It’s subtle, but was very noticeable for me. I thought it was nice and immediately indicated to me that this would be a very different experience. We went into the all-white marble room and she instructed me to sit next to the fountain with the gold spout. I sat down, she ran the water and made sure it was a nice temperature. She handed me a gold bowl and told me to sit back against the wall and relax. I sat against the wall, to attention, and she said, “no relax”. I still didn’t understand what she meant, so she sat next to me and sat down against the wall and completely let herself relax. Every single muscle, down to her posture was almost limp. Then I had the “oooooh” moment, and understood what I needed to do. The whole point is to completely let go, and cleanse your body and mind. So I did just that, and used the gold bowl to pour water over myself as I waited for her to return.

When she returned, she also changed into just the towel and some flip flops so she doesn’t get her clothes wet while she baths me. She took the special exfoliating mit and scrubbed my whole body from my face down to my feet. She did everything. My butt, my legs, my boobs, feet, everything. I remember thinking “this must be what it feels like to a baby when they get a bath”! Once she was done exfoliating, she walked me over the the center of the room and then unwrapped my peshtamal and laid it on top of the heated marble. I laid down on top of it, face up, wondering “what the heck is she about to do?!”. She then took a bucket and dipped a cloth inside, flipped it around and then rung it out. When she rung it out, a huge blanket of foam soap covered my body. She did this 3 times and my whole body was covered in the soapy foam. Then she washed and massaged my whole body, I turned over and she did the same. Then we went back to the fountain and she rinsed my body and she washed my hair for me. It was literally the most relaxing thing ever. I thought we were done, and apparently we weren’t! We went up 2 flights of stairs and in to a small room with a massage bed. She then gave me a nice medium-pressure massage for about 30 minutes.

When I was done I went back downstairs, put on a robe and relaxed with my choice of Turkish coffee or Turkish tea. The experience was seriously unforgettable. I have never had anything like this happen to me before and it’s something I would love to do again. I felt like Royalty!

You guys, this is a must-do activity when traveling to Istanbul. Why is this the best-kept beauty secret? Because it is a full body exfoliation and moisturizing event! For days my skin felt incredibly soft and glowing. Have you ever been to a Turkish Hamam? Have you ever been to Turkey? xoxo

Love,

Marcella

Dubai Travel Guide

One of the things that I love about living in the GCC area is that there is always something to do and see. I’ve lived here for several months and haven’t taken the time to sightsee so I decided to take a weekend and do just that. Dubai is especially fun because there is so much to do.

I started the weekend off by heading over to Miracle Garden. It was hot as balls outside, so I only lasted about 30 minutes. Literally. It was blazing hot that day, and they give you a small umbrella at the entrance to try and cover yourself from the sun, but it doesn’t help at all. Other than the excruciating heat, the garden is so amazing. All the colors, the different sculptures made out of flowers, the different types of flowers. And it’s massive! I heard the garden is more lively in the winter time (i.e. December to February). Around that time of year it’s about 75 F or 24 C and it’s the perfect weather for outdoor living.
The Dubai Mall is a great place to spend time if you come anytime from late March to the end of October because it’s air conditioned. It’s so big that you can spend several days just exploring Dubai Mall. There is almost any and every major brand you can think of here. From high end retailers like Chanel, Burberry, Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton to high street like Top Shop, River Island, etc.
Just outside of the Dubai Mall there are water shows every 15 minutes and it’s synchronized to different songs. One time they did the 007 movie theme. Another time they did what sounded like a traditional turkish song. It’s a really lovely experience something nice to do with a snack or ice cream to take a quick break from shopping.

Food:
My favorite restaurants are of course the ones where I can get items that remind me of home like Texas Roadhouse and Cheesecake Factory. But if you’re looking for a little more culture in your food options I LOVED Abdel Wahab! The food there is absolutely delicious!

Helpful hints:
-When getting a taxi, don’t use the concierge. They use the more expensive black cars. Ask where to find a “regular taxi”. Do the same in the airport. There will be people asking you “taxi? taxi? you need a taxi?” and my first time here I said yes and was put in a black car. I thought “wow this is so cool. Dubai’s taxis are all town cars”. Really? Who am I kidding lol. I later found out those are people who are trying to get rides out of tourist who don’t know any better i.e. myself. So don’t make the mistake I made. Unless you prefer a town car, then more power to you. But for me, I just want to get from point A to point B.

-I highly suggest if you are visiting the GCC area, do it between the months of November and early March. Any other time, it’s just too hot! Especially to do anything outdoors.

Let me know if you want to see more travel guides. I’ll have part 2 of Dubai for you soon! xo

Love,

Marcella

Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Muscat, Oman

It truly seems like the time is flying by! I feels like just yesterday I moved to the Middle East and now, suddenly I’m about 5 months in to living here and I’ve found my groove! My time here involves many busy days of work, housework, cooking, spending time with friends and finding time in all of that for self-growth, meditation, saving money, working out, being great, etc. It’s exhausting! So I decided it was time for a much-needed break and I wasn’t going to take anything other than the sounds of the ocean and a nice cold cocktail with the warm sun feeding my soul and my skin. So that’s exactly what I got, but the place I stayed was more amazing than I expected.

Shangri-La is a franchise of hotels that has several locations around the world and they are known for their five-star service and accommodations. They have locations in the Hong Kong, France, and Japan just to name a few. First of all, the room was pretty awesome. It’s like staying at your relative’s house who is well off and super clean. It feels like a safe haven. Away from all of the chaos and racket of city life. Of all the activities I did, I especially appreciated the room for my one night of “stay-in-bed-and-watch-a-movie” night. I loved that there were good channels to choose from and there are different languages also (french, spanish, arabic, english, etc.), and they even had a good movie channel in English. The mornings were heavenly because the drapes were black out and I was able to sleep in for as long as I wanted.

Breakfast is included in your stay and it’s a full buffet of deliciousness. You can omelettes made-to-order any way you like. There were meat options (chicken or beef), and you had your pickings of fresh breads. My favorite was the chocolate croissants. I almost always have as salad for breakfast when I travel. So in sticking with tradition, I enjoyed a large salad at breakfast every morning and their salad bar had everything you could want, even smoked salmon! You can also order any sort of coffee you want like a cappuccino, americano, latte, etc.

What to Do:

I really liked the water sports area at Shangri-La. I did the donut ride which is a speed boat that is connect to a floating circle by a long rope. Then the boat takes off really fast and then is pulls you along for a super fun ride on the waves it creates. I had the wind blowing, water splashing in my face, lifting from my seat from the wave cutting. It was a blast! I think the total cost was 20 Omani Riyal for this ride which wasn’t too bad for 2 people. Then we did kayaking which is the only free watersport. I liked that you didn’t have to pay to use the life vests with the kayaks. Kayaking was such peaceful ride along the cove. You can see the entire property and the natural rock formations on your ride. Once I circles back around to shore, we decided to go snorkeling and borrowed some snorkeling gear from water sports area. I saw so many fish! And the waters are crystal clear. I couldn’t believe how far down you could see in what I considered a pretty deep area of the water. It was just stunning.

Eating:

I really liked Al Tanoor restaurant. It’s buffet style but you get gourmet items. I usually don’t like buffets because they seem to have lower quality food or food that has less effort put in to it because they just worry about making it in bulk, not necessarily the food itself. But this buffet was so opposite of that. I loved that you can get made to order options like the skewer of prawns that you can order and have made fresh for you and they bring them to the table for you when they’re done. Or the beef tenderloin is made fresh that day. There are also so many healthy options too. I didn’t do any other restaurant option because the buffet was enough. One day I just did the buffet breakfast and the buffet dinner. I brought in my own snacks from a local store before hand and had that snack during the day while spending time at the beach because I was pretty full from the breakfast buffet and didn’t really need a full meal for lunch.

Nightlife:

There is a rooftop bar on-site that plays house music. The vibe is really nice and the setup reminds of a Miami outdoor bar area with the wicker furniture and white cushions. The bartender was ok. They weren’t very good at making a classic margarita, however their drink list has really good options. They had one drink that had cucumber and red peppers. I love spicy, but I was a little nervous it’d be too spicy but it wasn’t. Actually it could have used more pica (means spicy in spanish) in my opinion.

I can’t wait to share more of my travel and life adventures with you all! Please subscribe to my Youtube Channel Love, Marcella. xo

Love,

Marcella

Oman Adventure


I had such an incredible time exploring Oman. There are so many hidden gems in this part of the world. It’s one of the few places I’m aware of that you can go off-roading in a mountain and in the same day, only a few minutes away, have a picnic by the beach peering into the ocean.

The peacefulness you feel when you out near the water is incredible. We hung out by the ocean where we saw turtle heads peeking up out the water to peer into the sky. I believed that they were curious who we were and wanted to say hi. Wadi Al Arbyinn was a sight to see. We had to do some 4×4-ing to get to the area. The water is so clear, and untouched. You’ll find random quiet campers set up shop and relaxing in the shade. One of the favorite things I do is to have a picnic after our activities.

Wahiba Sands was a literal adventure! We went dune bashing where you ride in a 4×4 on the dunes. It’s very bumpy and feel like you’re in a roller coaster because the dunes are incredibly tall. We also went for a camel ride. I was a little apprehensive because I didn’t know how the animals were treated. But I was able to see first hand that the camels are very well taken care of and handled gently. Not one was handled aggressively or lashed out at. It was such a calm ride with our camel friends. Then we had traditional Omani dinner and breakfast and it was very good. I honestly wasn’t sure if I was eating camel meat, lamb or chicken. Whatever it was, it was tasty. I also enjoyed my very first camp fire. I loved it!

Bimmah Sinkhole was especially memorable because I swam for the first time in natural deep water, all by myself with no floating device! I didn’t know how to swim, but I’ve been taking lessons. I was so proud of myself y’all! I can’t wait to get even better so I can do more and more exploring!

I hope that you visit Oman. I can’t wait to explore more. I think I see an Omani Adventures part 2 coming soon! xo

Love,
Marcella

The First of Many

 

Hi, I’m Marcella and I’m a New York City Financial Analyst turned Beauty and Lifestyle Blogger living in the Middle East. I decided to embark on this journey because I absolutely love all things beauty and style from curly haircare, skincare, makeup, and challenging myself to try out a new fashion trend. I love it all.

I want to start by giving you a little perspective on why I’m so passionate about this blog. When I was in about 4th grade, I remember after much convincing, my mom finally allowed me to wear my hair down to school. With my curls all out in their glory. This was a big deal because I always wore my hair in a braid every-single-day to school. I remember feeling so incredibly excited because all the other girls wore their hair down, and I was finally going to do the same. I walked into class with my head held high in pride, a pep in my step, and full of pure excitement in anticipation for everyone’s “oo’s and aahh’s” of my awesome hair. Then (no joke), about 30 seconds of being in the classroom, I was immediately made fun of in front of the entire class for my big hair with comments of how crazy it looked, and “she has a huge fro, haha!”, and “dude what did you to to your hair?!” with major emphasis on “fro” or “hair”. You know how kids do. The whole class was laughing and some of them were even pointing at me as if I was some sort of a freak-show. I immediately burst into tears and I remember feeling so small and completely crushed.

Ever since then, for the longest time, all I wanted was to be and look like the other girls so I could feel accepted. I didn’t think I was pretty because I didn’t have straight hair. Or I didn’t think I was pretty because I didn’t have the right body-type. Or because my features were so different than everyone else. I wanted to be like everyone else so badly so that I could feel like I was pretty too, for just one day. And if I felt pretty, I knew I would feel confident, and I knew for sure that once I had the confidence, then I would have the courage to pursue anything I wanted and be the best at it.

Fast forward to now, and I’ve come a long way from that super shy girl who didn’t want to share her true light for fear of being ridiculed. I’ve journeyed into embracing and appreciating my naturally big curly hair, the shape of my body and just plain loving life. I want to be able to share with you, your daughter, your mom or sister or niece what I’ve discovered that helped me get to a better self-image. And honestly, it’s still a work-in-progress and that’s ok.

My goal is to be a representation for the under-represented (the smart-nerd types, the brown person, the person with the pronounced features, those with the big and frizzy hair, the forever weirdos). I am pursuing this as a means to bring awareness to a different type of beauty, a different type of person, a different way of thinking and a different way of life. I want to do this so that more of us who are different, will have the courage and inspiration to stand in our purpose, whatever that may be. On this blog, you will be embarking down this road with me. We will do this together. Let’s show the world that we are beautiful, that we are strong, that we are intelligent, that we are enough!

I encourage you to share my posts, leave comments, and provide feedback (positive or constructive). Thank you for taking the time to read my first post. I put my heart into this, and I promise to continue to put my heart into every post, and be my true, most-genuine self, no matter how scary it may be.

I look forward to sharing these times with you. I love you already. xoxo

Love,

Marcella