Topkapi Palace & Grand Bazaar

Trip Start Feb 23, 2008
Trip End Jun 05, 2008

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

I had a great sleep last night after yesterdays mammoth day and was up at the rooftop at 8.30am... After brekky I packed my bag and checked out and put my backpack in storage so I could go off exploring the Topkapi Palace.   I walked up, bought my ticket and got an audio guide so they could explain what I was looking at.  The first court is pretty plain - lots of gardens and paths which lead to the huge Middle Gate.   After entering this you are in the second court which has more gardens, paths and trees. Off to the right hand side are the Palace kitchens which contain collections of Chinese porcelain, glass and silverware, all a bit boring.
The Harem on the left hand side opened at 10am so i made my way over and bought a ticket - it was perfect timing as there was hardly anyone around at all.    The first place I came to was the Courtyard of the Black Eunuchs with its rock laid path.   This lead to the main gate where the sultans family and the concubines were separated.   There is a beautiful gold mirror here and the hall leads to the Concubines and Consorts Courtyard.   There are many rooms that lead off here including baths, a laundry and dormitories and also a beautifully painted wall that features a countryside scene.    This then led to the apartment of the Queen Mother - she literally ran the Harem so her room was pretty special..!    Lots of tiling, couches, tables, domed ceilings, chandeliers and her bathroom was marble with a gold inlay.... it almost looked like she had 3 toilets.    Next was the Imperial Hall which served as the reception room of the sultan, stunning as you would expect.   This led to the Privy Chamber of Murat the 2nd - someone very important as it was a grand gold and blue room, the twin kiosks were the apartments of the crown prince which had amazing stained glass windows.   Outside was the "Favourites" Courtyard which had a pool and decking..... The harem was really interesting!
Back outside I proceeded through the Gate of Felicity - if you made it through this gate back in the day you had made it into the residential area of the Palace.   I went to the Treasury area which houses all the good stuff - 2 things of particular interest, the Topkapi dagger which is a curved shaped knife with 3 huge emeralds.   The second is the spoonmakers diamond, its called this because it was found in a rubbish dump and was subsequently sold for 3 spoons..!   Its 86 carats, tear shaped and stunning.... there was a bunch of schoolies in here so i took a quick look then went out the back to see the circumcision room ... just what a Palace needs..!   It has some fantastic tile work - hopefully that was used as a distraction which the snip snip was happening..!   Beside this is the golden arch of the Iftariye Baldachin which the sultan used (Ibrahim the mad) to break the Ramadan fast.
After a few more pics of the courtyard and the views over Istanbul I made my way to the Baths of Lady Huram    They were build by the sultan for his favourite wife Roxelana and now houses a carpet shop... you can wander around and explore all the little rooms.... 
I bought another corn cob and picked up my bags and walked the 10 mins to the Hotel Metropol where my tour would start... After dumping my bags I ventured out to find more meat - the place i went to the meat man had his own private room... I had a dish called the Betsi kebab - meatballs rolled up in souvalaki bread... mmmm mmmm. 
I needed to walk off my food so I went around to the spice market.   I want sure how to get in so it was potluck.. I wandered through the pet shop area and patted all the cute puppies, checking out the ducks and chickens too.... then i found the spice market -- not as smelly as the one in India!   I was invited into a carpet shop and chatted to by an Uncle and Cousin who invited me to come and watch him play soccer later... i thanked and politely declined and went wandering up the hill to see another mosque up a steep hill...this was the Sulemaniye Camii -- it was apparently the one to see but it was pretty disappointing as they were renovating inside.!   oh well.. outside was pretty cool though, a lot of grave and tombs - one of Roxelana!     The rest was pretty bland though...
I got a bit lost trying to find the Grand Bazaar - I thought I was somewhere I actually wasn't... eventually I found one of the main entrances and wandered around - the shopping looks amazing and I cant wait until I finish the trip to come back.   The bowls in particular are so colourful -- and there are evil eyes everywhere - I think they are going to make a good present for people back home...
I wasn't sure when the group meeting was so I left and caught a tram back to the hotel - I was a bit early so I went to use the internet then made it back to the meeting in time... Everyone seems really good value, 12 Aussies & 2 NZ's... we said our hellos then went for dinner and has more meat... Today had been a long day so after 1 beer i was stuffed and headed for be not long after tea..!
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