(She is also taller than me but I don't want to talk about that).
It just goes on and on and on forever. And it takes my breath away. Every. Single. Time.
Gotta get back to that hamam:
Ah yes... The Turkish bath in the Ten Spa at the Hotel Fort Garry...
I've already blogged about my first impressions of this most glorious of spa experiences. And let's face it - I can't top that post. So I won't bother to even try.
But I will say two things.
1 - Hubby came with me. And I gotta admit, I was a little bit nervous about him being there. I mean, he doesn't even like to relax. Seriously - he is utterly and entirely incapable of doing nothing. He starts to twitch after about five minutes of being idle. So I kept thinking, "Oh god, he is going to hate this, and then he is going to be mad at me for spending so much money on this." But I guess there is something about being lathered up by a pretty hamam attendant that makes a man relax. Because I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever seen him so relaxed. True to his overly-logical-and-slightly-uncomfortable-expressing-emotions style, all he will tell me when I ask him what he thought of the whole experience is "It was very soothing." But when it was done, he happily lounged around the relaxation room in his white robe, flipping through a GQ magazine and sipping on his tea, in absolutely no rush to be anywhere else. Which is not the man that I have known for the past 11 years.
Of course, the jet lag might have had something to do with his lack of motivation to leave the comfort of that couch...
2 - Unlike the first time, I was utterly relaxed from start to finish. There was no breaking out into a cold sweat when I wrapped myself up in a barely-there peshtemal. There was no worrying about what others in the hamam thought about my muffin top. And there was no clenching my legs tight together so that the attendant could not get an inadvertent peak at my lady bits. And when you are less worried about safeguarding your modesty, you are more able to really experience the hamam. This time around, I noticed things. The scents. The feel of the warm tile on my skin. The way my heart rate sped up as the heat rose. The way that my breath caught in my throat when the attendant poured cold water over my entire body. The way that the cloth used to lather me felt like a giant feather gently tickling my skin. When you are able to fully and completely let go of all of your worries and inhibitions, every second of the experience is magnified by, like, a million.
Of course, it helps that this time, I shaved...
Catching up with old friends:
There is never enough time to see everyone that I want to see when I go home, but it is nice to connect with some of the old high school crew. And thanks to the magic of Facebook, and my incessant need to always post a status update, it is guaranteed that some old friend of mine will get wind that I am around and will take the opportunity to hook up. All it takes is a local watering hole and a pint of beer for those high school memories to flow. Which means endless giggling for at least a few hours. And who giggles enough these days, anyway?
Family, family and more family:
The last time I saw most of my family in one spot was my wedding day almost four years ago. So it's nice to take the opportunity to get a little tipsy with my aunts and uncles while we talk about running and Bruce Springsteen concerts. And it's entertaining to sit down and talk about current affairs with my more politically active family members. And it's fun to laugh at all the Toronto Maple Leaf fans in my family for the monster collapse that was Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs against Boston. And it's a blast to tear up the dance floor at a family wedding with the mother of the groom. Visits to Winnipeg always remind me that, while my family may be a little on the crazy side, we share an awful lot of good times together, and dammit if we aren't a really fun crowd. And is there really a better way to unwind?
Who says you can't go home... after visiting the cultural centre of Europe:
Yeah, it's not exactly an elegant place to visit. And country music is way less classy than the opera. And a grain elevator hardly compares to the baroque gardens and extravagant palaces of Hapsburg Austria.
But Winnipeg is home.
It's true that I don't live there anymore. And it's equally true that I'm quite likely to never move back there, having made a life that I am quite happy with in Ottawa. But there are so many things about Winnipeg that make me feel at peace: that big sky; my beautiful niece and my handsome nephew; my favourite football team; my oldest friends; my crazy family.
And of course, that hamam...
So yeah. We ended our European vacation with six days in Winnipeg.
And it was awesome.