Istanbul, July 4
There was one more cultural experience we decided to squeeze in before we left Istanbul, a nargile or what we’d call a hookah bar. Like a traditional Turkish bath, there’s a significant social element involved. Although alcohol is widely available in Turkey, many Muslims do not drink, so a nargile provides an alternative way of going out with friends.
The menu offered a selection of flavors rivaling Baskin Robbins in number and weirdness. Mint, cappuccino, strawberry, cherry, coconut, grape, orange, lemon, gum, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, coke, watermelon, and jelly bean. We settled on the traditional and popular apple flavor.
Delaney admitted having tried it a few times in college so showed us how it’s done. Kelsey was game and gave it a few puffs. I also tried but emitted more coughs than smoke rings.
Apparently hookah lounges are starting to sprout up in the U.S., particularly near college campuses. Go figure. The water pipe looks like a bong designed by an engineering student. With widespread and growing restrictions on smoking, don’t expect hookah lounges to rival Starbucks anytime soon.