Tag Archives: Dolmabahçe Palace

Istanbul – Day 8

Sunday March 11

Our final day in Istanbul and everyone from the MBA class has left for other cities in Spain or on their way back to the States. It was extremely cold with a slight bit of rain today in Istanbul. We thought we could get out of the weather by touring Dolmabahçe Palace unfortunately waiting in lines outside the buildings was painful. Touring the palace was also cold since the place is so big and I’m sure they don’t want to run the heat all the time (if they even have heating I’m not sure, probably did). There was some elaborate rooms and furnishings at the palaces. If I remember correctly, the last six sultans lived here and it is where President Ataturk died. We got to see the bedroom where he passed away which I’m sure is very important to the Turkish people. After a few hours touring the palace we rode the funicular back to Taksim square and wandered around Istiklal one last time til dark. We ate dinner and headed back to the hotel to get a few hours sleep before our flight back via Amsterdam at 5:45am.

Our experience in Turkey was fantastic. The sites, the food, the people were all great and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Thanks for reading and we will be back shortly with posts from Italy in May!

Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahçe Palace

Fountain at Dolmabahçe Palace

Foutain at Dolmabahçe Palace

Goodbye from Dolmabahçe Palace

Goodbye from Dolmabahçe Palace

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Istanbul – Day 5

Thursday March 8

Today the whole group had a scheduled tour of Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace and a boat tour of the Bosphorus. We were scheduled to meet down at the lobby at 8:30am. I think we showed up about 8:35am. Lucky for us, we were not the last people to arrive in the lobby so we made the bus without too much of a fuss. The bus left about 8:45am and we were off toward Hagia Sofia. The bus took about 15-20 minutes to the get to our attraction from the Titanic City Hotel Taksim. Once there we were given our tickets and we had a tour guide that talked to us via audio device with headphones. We toured the inside of the basilica turned mosque turned museum for about 2-3 hours. The inside of the church was mixed with christian mosaics and mosque inspired chandeliers. The mosaics were remarkable and adorned some walls and ceilings. It’s very massive on the inside from the bottom floor to the ceiling of the dome. Once we completed the inside we worked our way to the outside briefly and snapped a few shots of the grounds and the Blue Mosque that can be seen in the distance.

Next stop was Topkapi Palace which was a short walk from Hagia Sofia. It was overcast in Istanbul today and a bit windy during midday. It was quite cold while inside the grounds of Topkapi Palace. Inside the grounds we stopped to get instructions on the plan for the group next to the Hagia Irene. I snapped a few photos and tried to get a few shots of the gate entrance (The Gate Of Salutation) to Topkapi Palace. The first thing we checked out was the holy relics located in one wing of the courtyard. Inside were supposed relics from prophets such as David, Muhammed, and other religious articles. There was a “hand and forearm” of John I believe which was interesting along with the Staff Of Moses. Topkapi Palace is filled with things to see including my favorite the Arms collection in one building. It had some fascinating weapons from the Ottoman period and dating back throughout the ages. It was quite remarkable and I highly recommend it. One building housed a collection of jewels, art, and wardrobes named the Imperial Treasury. A lot of people seemed to be focused on seeing this collection and it was kind of hard to get a good view while we were scurrying through. There was a royal sultan baby crib that I found interesting and some of the thrones for the sultans. One area Kat and I didn’t pay extra to see was the Harem. Some of the others toured this area and said it was great. You really needed a long time to tour Topkapi Palace and the fact it was windy and cold lead to us skipping some areas of the palace due to walking all day and the weather. If I were to go back I would almost set aside a whole 4-5 hours to see everything. We were able to see some good views of the Bosphorus/Golden Horn from the grounds since its high up the hill from the waterways. While we were walking out, there was a group of kids that were hovered over one of Kat’s classmates and seemed to be fascinated with getting a picture with him. They tried to get a picture with us too but we were on the move!

The final tour of the day included a boat tour of the Bosphorus Strait. Before we got down to the dock, my only thought was I hope this has an indoor area or we are going to freeze! Fortunately for us the boat did have a bottom deck area that was indoors with heat and plenty of windows to see out so we took a table down below. You could purchase snacks and beverages on the boat tour which was nice. Since we had been so cold we got some hot apple tea which is big in Turkey. I’ll have to say it is quite tasty. It’s like hot apple cider and it went down nicely. They bring it in a little cup and saucer which is nice. I took quite a number of photos of the shoreline and sites from the boat. I took a few inside and braved the decks outside for a bit to get some video and photos. I was glad I was able to take photos of the Fortress Of Europe and Fortress of Asia from the decks while on the tour. I had read about the fortresses in the guide book and wasn’t sure if we would get to see them. A lot of the group was tired and some were falling asleep  on the boat ride due to the nice comfy surroundings of the bottom deck (ie hot tea, heat). Kat and I stayed awake the whole time though I will say! Overall it was a good day with the whole MBA class and touring group. All 3 tours are must see stops if you are ever in Istanbul!!!

Once back at the hotel, most of the group decided to take a rest and retreated to the hotel rooms. Everyone met up in the lobby for dinner plans to be hashed out and most of us decided to go to a spot on Istiklal where Kat’s Turkish classmate Alp had planned to have dinner with his father and a few friends. A group of about 20 of us met at this multiple story restaurant down off a side street of Istiklal. Alp’s dad ordered for the entire group and the waiters just kept bringing us food! Some things we found excellent and there were a few choices we were not brave enough to try I must say, that being the liver and onions. However, the fried sardines were excellent, along with this dessert made with bananas, honey, cinnamon, and a lite cream. It was ridiculously good! Our table ordered 2 extra dishes of the treat!

Earlier in the week Alp had promised he could get us tickets to the GalatasarayGençlerbirliği soccer match that I believed was on Sunday coming up. So at dinner that night, his friend showed up to hand us our tickets. When he handed over the tickets the date was Saturday. This was not good however since we had plans to fly to Izmir and tour Ephesus. I was distraught since I had really wanted to go to the game and see the atmosphere at the Turk Telecom Arena which was barely a year old and home to Galatasaray who are currently in 1st place in the Turkish league. Unfortunately, our  plans got in the way and we couldn’t go to the game now since it was on Saturday night. Lucky for us Brad and Mandy decided to buy our tickets and go themselves. This was fortunate or we would have wasted approx. $110 dollars. I was glad someone got to go since we couldn’t also since we had gotten Alp and his friend to buy us tickets to the match. (per a facebook post from Mandy they had a great time so I’m glad they got to experience their first international soccer match!)

Once dinner was complete we a big group went to another Nargile (hookah) bar and hung out late into the night. Sami and Alp played a fierce game of backgammon which is big in Turkey. I tried to learn the rules of the game as they played but it was pretty difficult to pick up on the fly. I may have to go learn how to play just in case I ever go back to Turkey or at least to give Sami another person to play the game with! We walked back in the cold to the hotel past 1am and Day 5 was in the books. Another long day, some great sites seen, and some good memories made.

Here are some photos from Day 5:

Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia

Kat and I inside Hagia Sofia

Kat and I inside Hagia Sofia

The Deësis mosaic with Christ as ruler

The Deësis mosaic with Christ as ruler

Comnenus mosaic (Virgin Mary)

Comnenus mosaic (Virgin Mary)

Hagia Sofia (external half domes)

Hagia Sofia (external half domes)

Kat and I (Topkapi Palace grounds)

Kat and I (Topkapi Palace grounds)

Imperial Gate walls (Topkapi Palace)

Imperial Gate walls (Topkapi Palace)

Hagie Irene

Hagia Irene

The Gate Of Salutation (Topkapi Palace)

The Gate Of Salutation (Topkapi Palace)

New Mosque from the Bosphorus Boat Tour

New Mosque from the Bosphorus Boat Tour

Coastline view from the Bosphporus Boat Tour

Coastline view from the Bosphporus Boat Tour

Dolmabahçe Palace from the Bosphorus

Dolmabahçe Palace from the Bosphorus

Fortress of Europe from the Bosphorus

Fortress of Europe from the Bosphorus

Hot Apple Tea (bottom deck of the Boat Tour)

Hot Apple Tea (bottom deck of the Boat Tour)

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Istanbul – Day 2

Monday March 5, 2012

Since Kat was in lectures most of the afternoon, I decided to do some wandering around the city. Luckily I ran into another spouse (Lauren Hochfeld) on the trip so we started by walking up to Taksim Square. Evidently after reading the travel guide books and seeing it firsthand, this is the place to be if you want to protest something in Istanbul. There was a group of about 50 people protesting there on Sunday and there was a march for International Women’s Day on another while we were there. Once we got up to the square, I had mentioned we could go toward Dolmabahçe Palace. Lauren had been to Istanbul before for her international requirement for her MBA two years earlier, but she hadn’t been to the palace so she was good with us going that way. At the square we asked around and were pointed toward the Taksim funicular. This took us over to the Kabataş stop. This was a 2 minute ride down the hill basically. We walked by the Dolmabahçe Mosque and Dolmabahçe Palace. We noticed there wasn’t anyone in the palace so I remembered that some tourist sites in Istanbul are closed on Monday. Since we couldn’t go in we walked down the street and around it. At the gate was an odd site, there were two soldier looking figures inside glass boxes. I swore they were dummies. Lauren, said “No take a look they are moving!”. Sure enough if you looked closely, they were real people guarding the gate in a glass box looking phone booth?!?!? Once we realized we couldn’t tour the palace, we began walking back up the street. I was excited to notice next to the mosque across the street was Beşiktaş football stadium, the Fiyapı İnönü Stadium. I got Lauren to take a few photos of me with the stadium in the background and we also visited the team shop. We decided to walk up the hill to get a better view of the Bosphorus Strait, the stadium, etc…

While walking up the hill, we met our first “swindler” in Istanbul. A guy probably in his 20’s dropped a brush, Lauren picked it up and he thanked here. Then the scam began, he offered to shine our shoes. He claimed he was a student trying to get some money and we relented and let him shine our shoes. I offered a 20 TL (Turkish Lira) but he wanted more. All I had left were 50 TL so without thinking too clearly that it was roughly $35 USD I gave it to him and got my 20 TL back. Lauren also gave the guy a 5 TL and didn’t realize I was giving him so much money. He thanked us and was on his merry way, no doubt glad he just made his whole week in shoe shine sales probably! I like to think of it as my donation to charity while in Turkey! Kat wasn’t as amused but once the story got out it was quite an infamous story to the rest of the traveling group, so I had that going for me. My shoes were shining the rest of the trip!!!

We decided to walk the 15 minutes back up to Taksim Square. I had heard earlier from the professors wife that we should go back to the Galata Tower and go to the top to get 360 panoramic views of the city so off to Galata Tower we went. We walked down Istiklal Avenue where all the shops/food/bars/etc… are located. The street was packed at almost all times of the day and night. It took about 25 minutes to walk down the avenue to Galata Tower. It cost 12 TL to go to the top. Once there we took a good bit of photos. It was a great view. We finally walked back up the avenue to our hotel and waited for our respective spouses to return to the hotel. A good afternoon of sightseeing was in the books.

For dinner we were encouraged to go to the Ortaköy section of Istanbul down by the Bosphorus. One of Kat’s classmates is from Turkey and recommended we go to this area. He rounded up a bunch of cabs and off we went. I would say there was about 20-30 of us that went down to the restaurant area. Once there, groups split up and hit a few different spots. At the restaurant we chose, I selected chicken schnitzel and fries and Kat selected a meatball type dish kafte. The restaurant was super cheap and food was just ok that night. After dinner we went to the place next door because some people in the group wanted to try the hookah. We were able to watch the Galatasaray/Sivasspor Turkish league soccer game and enjoy spending time with some of Kat’s classmates and spouses. Since everyone was pretty jet-lagged from the day before and staying out late on Sunday night, everyone decided to head back to the hotel relatively early (ie before midnight!) and Day 2 was over.

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Taksim Square

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Dolmabahçe Palace (gate and guards)

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Fiyapı İnönü Stadium, home of Beşiktaş soccer team

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Istiklal Avenue

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view from Galata tower

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view from Galata tower looking toward the Galata bridge

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