Photos

As the days go by, we’re getting used to the traditional turkish breakfast: tasting boiled eggs, cucumber, tomato and olives is not a hard task (…at least, not anymore!), although we still prefer the small pancake with honey and “our” well-known white bread. After a quick look to our pocket map, we find the best route to Süleymaniye, walking through little streets, discovering hidden nooks and feeling a blend with the inhabitants at every step. Our first stop: the Hamam!


The entry could pass unnoticed to the most distracted tourist, covering its inner beauty with a grey exterior austerity – today, just like in the past – worthy to the eyes of a Sultan.

After inscribing our names in the guest list, we were guided upstairs to a private closet where we changed our clothes for their “uniform”: a red squared turkish bath towel supplemented, for women, with a matching bikini and shorts… so CUTE! But, the best was yet to come: when we got out, we had some very rudimentary wooden clogs – kind of 4 or 5 sizes bigger than our feet – waiting for us to wear them! With this accessory, the expected short walk between the hall and the hamam room seemed like more than a mile… but, when we finally get there and know the place… wow… it’s unbelievable.

The large marble stone, in the centre of the room, was our spot to catch every detail, although it was not an easy job to get there… – can you imagine how to lay, half naked, in a surface at 50ºC?… – but, once there, after several attempts, lying alone in the marble was an experience that we’ll certainly last forever in our memories……just like the scary (yes!) but relaxing sound of the massage!

In an adjoining open room – the sultan’s hamam – the masseuses began our bath with a vigorous glove exfoliation merging with a torrent of tepid water. Calming down, we were conduced to a marble mattress, where we were, literally, covered in soap, listening to the falling water, and enjoying a pleasant massage (but noisy! Everyone who got a turkish bath will understand me, right? I still recall the creaking of our bodies)

The massage ends… but the treatment of our “sultan” bodies went on: in a closed room, was provided a new set of towels, while two assistants finished drying our bodies and “dressed” us for the occasion… so memorable! Closing the package, we ended in a living room where we were invited to relax (and talk, talk, talk about the experience!) with, of course, a cup of çay [turkish lesson nr. 05: “çay” = tea].

Do we have to say anything more? We loved the experience!

Once there, we wanted to discover the mosque. From its gardens, on the top of the city, the views are impressive, offering a perspective over the river zone, identifying the neighbourhoods of Eminönü, Beyoglu and Galata.

Sudenly, we were surprised by the call for prayer – we can not describe the feeling of that moment, where all the surrounding sound seemed to converge, creating a mystical atmosphere. In that moment we didn’t know what to do, since the “manual” points that, in the times of praying, the access is limited… But, we keep going… Almost at the door, our debate persists… Till a kind man, going for its prayer, invited us to enter and join him: we didn’t think twice – after, quickly, removed our shoes we entered in the temple – its inside is so impressive as its outside and, this could be one of the best experiences we had in Istanbul: at the beggining of the prayer, the worshippers perform some moves to the sound of the Imam, causing a shudder to witness their devotion.

 _____________________________________________

Á medida que os dias passam, vamos ficando mais acostumados ao tradicional pequeno-almoço turco: uma degustação de ovos cozidos, pepino, tomate e azeitonas não é uma tarefa difícil (…pelo menos, agora já não!), embora nós ainda prefiramos a pequena panqueca com mel e o “nosso” bem conhecido pão branco.

Após uma rápida olhadela ao nosso mapa de bolso, podemos encontrar a melhor rota para Süleymaniye, andando pelas ruelas, descobrindo recantos escondidos e sentindo como nos misturamos com os habitantes a cada passo. Primeira paragem: o Hamam!

A entrada pode passar despercebida ao turista mais distraído, cobrindo a sua beleza interior com uma austero exterior cinza – hoje, tal como no passado – digno aos olhos de um sultão

Após anotar os nossos nomes na lista de convidados, fomos conduzidos a um pequeno vestidor privado onde pudemos mudar as nossas roupas para o “uniforme”: uma toalha de banho de turco de quadrados vermelhos complementada, para as mulheres, com um biquini e calções… tão BONITINHO! Mas, o melhor ainda estava para vir: quando descemos, tínhamos uns tamancos de madeira muito rudimentares – tipo uns 4 ou 5 tamanhos maiores que nossos pés – aguardando-nos para usá-los! Com este acessório, a esperada curta caminhada entre o hall e a sala do hamam pareceu-nos interminável… mas, quando nós, finalmente, chegámos e vimos o lugar… uau… é inacreditável.

A grande pedra de mármore, no centro da sala, era nosso ponto para reter cada detalhe, embora não fosse uma tarefa fácil para chegar lá… – conseguem imaginar como deitar, semi nús, numa superfície a 50ºC?… – mas, uma vez lá, depois de várias tentativas, estarmos deitados sozinhos no mármore foi uma experiência que, certamente, vai permanecer para sempre em nossas memórias…tal como o assustador (sim!), mas relaxante som da massagem!

Numa sala contígua – o chamado hamam do sultão – os massagistas começaram o nosso banho com uma vigorosa esfoliação com uma luva intercalando com uma torrente de água morna. Para relaxar, fomos conduzidos para uma “cama” de mármore, onde fomos, literalmente, cobertos em sabão, ouvindo a água cair e desfrutando de uma agradável massagem (embora ruidosa! Todos os que já passaram por um banho turco vão entender-me, certo? Eu ainda recordo o estalar dos nossos corpos)!

A massagem termina… mas o tratamento aos nossos corpos de “sultão” continua: numa sala fechada, foi fornecido um novo conjunto de toalhas, enquanto dois assistentes terminaram de secar-nos e “vestir-nos” para a ocasião… tão memorável! Fechando a sessão, numa sala de estar fomos convidados a relaxar (e falar, falar, falar sobre a experiência!) com, evidentemente, uma chávena de çay [lição de turco nr. 05: “çay” = chá].

Será necessário dizer algo mais? Nós amámos a experiência!

Uma vez lá, queríamos descobrir também a mesquita. Desde os seus jardins, na parte superior da cidade, as vistas são impressionantes, oferecendo uma perspectiva sobre a zona do rio, identificando os bairros de Eminönü, Beyoglu e Galata.De repente, começámos a ouvir a chamada para a oração – nem conseguimos descrever o sentimento daquele momento, onde todo o som envolvente parecia convergir, criando uma atmosfera mística. Naquele momento não sabíamos o que fazer, uma vez que o “manual” aponta que, nos tempos de oração, o acesso à mesquita é limitado… mas, optámos por continuar… Quase na porta, o nosso debate persiste, até que um gentil senhor, indo para a sua oração, convidou-nos para entrar e juntar-nos a ele: nem pensámos duas vezes – depois de, rapidamente, removidos os sapatos, entrámos no templo – o seu interior é tão impressionante como o exterior e, isso poderia ser uma das melhores experiências que tivemos em Istambul: no início da oração, os crentes executam movimentos ao som da voz do Iman, fazendo com que um arrepio tomasse conta de nós por testemunharmos a sua devoção.

(travel diary) DAY 3: an Hamam at Süleymaniye

Tagged: , , , , , , , on February 26, 2012 by "Our traveling without moving!..."

24 Comments

24 Responses to “(travel diary) DAY 3: an Hamam at Süleymaniye”

  1. Great story and beautiful photography! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you so much, Deborah!

  3. Very nice pics! and I am glad you could make it to one of the most beautiful structures of the world. Plus if you are interested in Byzantine history please make a visit to Chora museum, which is not that well known amongst tourists, if you are still in town! Combine your visit with a little bit of modern art “Istanbul Modern” and sip Turkish coffee at their café over looking the Bosphorus!

  4. Great post and smashing photographs! What experiences you have had!

    Cheers

    John

  5. What an interesting journey! Thanks for sharing it. By the way the person who leads the prayer is called IMAM, not Iman. Iman means believe. Again, lovely story you got here.

  6. Thanks for your note!

  7. I’ve never been brave enough to go to the hammam, though I’ve thought about it in Cordoba and Granada. What a wonderful place for the experience. Loving your Istanbul posts.

  8. You should go to the hamam…it’s worth the experience, Johanna!

  9. Beautiful stories and beautiful photos! I look forward to your next entry.

    Enjoy the moments, Jay

  10. Thanks, Jay!

  11. These photographs are quite beautiful! Great work !

  12. Thank you so much, Mahesh!

  13. Lovely stories and photos. Getting to Turkey is on my list, too! Thanks so much for visiting Play a Good Knife and Fork (http://blog.pknewby.com). I appreciate the “like”! Enjoy the rest of your trip…Still thinking about that Turkish bath … mmmm…. (with a little “ow,” too, so it seems!)
    Cheers, @pknewby

  14. Istanbul is one of my favorite cities in the world, and your excellent photos make me realize it is time for a return visit! Thank you.

  15. Reblogged this on The Three G's.

  16. Sensacional o post. Em qualquer idioma me deu ainda mais saudade de quando fui pra Istambul. Viajei nas fotos e na narração.
    Um belezura!!!

    Dany
    http://feriadopessoal.wordpress.com

  17. Obrigada, Dany!

  18. Hahahaha! Even with all the “ow”… It was sooooo worth it! Turkey is a compulsory visit to every traveller: please, go!

  19. Thank you, Terri!

  20. Thanks for visiting my blog! I have been admiring your photos from afar, but I thought I should write to say how much I enjoyed reading about your experience in Istanbul.

  21. All we can do is to thank you for your kind words!

  22. Perfect time to find your inspiring posts on Istanbul – I’m waiting to board a midnight flight right now. 🙂

  23. Wish you a nice flight!

  24. Such beautiful photos!

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