Topkapi Palace entrance
So the sun decided to shine for me today and I was ready to have a good day. Ahead of the girls we decided to cover the Palace by ourselves. The route up to the palace consists of a steep cobbled pathway. The Palace looked like a castle from the outside, the medieval twin peaks and the narrowed fortified high walls. Entry price 20TL and an extra 15TL for the harem. Again there is a security gate and bag scanner like the airport.
We started with the harem, where all the women were housed, it was interesting to learn about the politics of the household. The competition to seduce the princes, the competition to have a son, the competition to become chosen as the favourite. There were ranked quarters for the lowly levels right up to the higher ranked women.
Detailed mosaic in the harem
The men that were allowed in the quarters were eunuchs. The hammams and the baths were decorated with gold details and cleanliness and hygiene were regarded as high priority. The decor in the rooms were so well preserved, rooms consisted of receiving rooms that they used for guests, special preparation rooms that they used for training the princes for sultan-hood. There were stories of murders among brothers and scheming of the queen mother for power. So much history captivated in these walls.
We toured the whole perimeter of the Palace. We worked through all four treasury rooms full of jewels and gems. These valuables were either owned by the royals, given as presents or were made as fine artifacts specific to Turkey.
The Sultans wardrobe/dressing room, where the outfits were displayed as they were worn. The details of how they were made and the specific detail of the garments.
We walked around the back of the Palace to see the Mamara view of Istanbul
. Beautiful. We covered the Palace in 3.5hrs, we did i quite speedily but we could have happily spent all day here.
Next stop we hit the grand bazaar, we jumped on the metro and got off at Beyazit, which is located right outside the walls of the entry to the bazaar. We were on a mission when we got in here. We knew what we had to buy and we didn't want to over spend in here, as it can very easily happen.
Giant mirror in harem entrance
A tea set of six cups and saucers and brass spoons, turkish slippers, a couple of purses and some treats was on my list. Some of the vendors in there were completely rude and gave us attitude, they unwilling to negotiate at all even though their prices were very inflated. We chose not to shop with them and moved onto the next store. The tea set I spotted the one I wanted almost immediately and the vendor quoted 40TL, I knew that it was worth roughly 20TL so I offered 15TL, knowing that this price would go up. We haggled back and forth and I used all my tricks and got him to 22TL, which I was happy with as the glasses felt quite heavy and the detail on them looked quite intricate. He didn't have the brass spoons but I was happy to go look elsewhere for them.
Concubine quarters in Harem
My next quest was for Turkish slippers. There were slippers that had a hard sole and ones with soft soles. You must try them on, I tried the hard soled slippers first and they HURT. I decided to opt for the soft sole and use them as house slippers. I went from vendor to vendor to find the colour and size that I wanted. Each place were selling the for 20TL but all bargained down to 10TL. Eventually I found the colour I wanted and a pink pair for my friend. I tried mine on and they fit perfectly. I didn't try my friends pair on as they were 3 sizes bigger than my size so I didn't think it worth it. On my return I gave them as a present and they were too small. It is always worth checking the size as the vendor could sell you anything once your back is turned.
Grand chandelier in reception room
Next Annie was looking for lanterns, a pair of them, matching. You would think this would be an easy task since those lanterns are EVERYWHERE. We walked the length of the whole bazaar with no luck. No matching single laterns. How painful. In the end she settled for just one. In between all the lantern searching I also managed to negotiate the price of a scarf down from 40TL to 12TL, a necklace from 180TL down to 42TL and managed to get myself a free gift aswell. The vendor was very friendly and gave me many hugs and kisses while we negotiated. Not the most pleasant experience but at least he didn't smell. Annie would have happily sold me off for 1000 camels as she bantered with the vendor. I spent 65TL in total.
Royal bathroom facilities
.. not bad at all.
We jumped back on the metro and decided to stop off at Sirceki station to see the central train station of the city, where Agatha Christie got her inspiration for murder on the orient express. The station outside and inside wasn't anything amazing as such, it just looked like a regular station. There was a free museum in the station that had nostalgia train items, its small but worth a look if you're already in there but nothing special enough to make a specific trip for.
I went to meet an old friend at House cafe on Istiklal. Very trendy cafe with prices to match. It was nice to see someone that was settling in as a 'local' to the area. He took us on a walk down the back streets of Istiklal into the Cihanger area.
Royal bathroom facilities
He told us a bit about the history of the place and showed us a few shops, cafes and restaurants, tried tested and recommended. It was refreshing going to eat somewhere, where people we not staring at u and trying to cheat us. We ate at a seafood restaurant, not bad but lots of bones, so full concentration was required.
Events for the evening was drinks at a local turkish pub with live music. The band played Turkish tunes and the crowd seemed to sing along with them. We had a couple of drinks here and then decided to head off to a club. The bill came and was 4 times more expensive than we expected and realised that there was a cover charge for the music and also for the snacks that we did not eat. There was no sign or any mention that the music required a charge but the management were not willing to cater to us and charged us the full rate.
TRICKED. Next we moved onto a club called purple the guy promoting it on the street said that entry would be free and any drink for 5TL. The club was empty and banging out dance tunes. Slowly the club filled up and we had quite a few drinks. The toilets were charged at 1TL per visit and it wasn't even a nice toilet, it smelt of stale urine and there was no attendant handing out soap or tissues or anything. Once again when we went to pay the bill the drinks were not 5TL they we 20TL. TRICKED again. Disappointing.
The best bit about the night was the patata chips in a cone with ketchup and mayonnaise. Delicious. We didn't get tricked there.