I don't know how I feel about heights

Trip Start Feb 10, 2006
Trip End Mar 07, 2006

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Today after our wonderful breakfast we are walking to the Dolmabahce Palace. Judging from the maps it is within walking distance. We ended up taking a wrong turn and walking the long way but the Dolmabahce Palace was very close to our hotel. 

The Palace was where the sultans moved after the Topaki palace. This is more in the fashion of European Palaces and was built during the period of time that Europe was in fashion in Turkey. Like most palaces there was a guard standing out front. All of us posed with him for the obligatory photos. It wasn't until we passed him to go into the palace grounds that we noticed that the hand behind his back held a crocodile Dundee size knife... Yikes wouldn't want to tick him off. 

Though the palace is European in style there are things that reflect the Turkish residents. The light infusing ceilings create a geometric pattern both in light and shade. The colored glass of lamps, like those in the bazaar cast a romantic haze over the rooms. The beautiful carpets cover the parquet floors. 
The power of the Ottoman empire is evident in the items brought back from foreign lands. There are huge oriental vases and even a 4.5 ton chandelier given to the palace by Queen Victoria herself.  The tour through the Palace is guided and the woman giving the tour is well spoken and gives us lots of facts.

We had bought a ticket for both the Palace and the Harem. There is a gap between two tours so we stop by the little coffee shop. I guess that I am the only one that likes Turkish coffee. It is cold and wet outside and I can't think of anything better to warm me.

The tour through the harem is led by a lovely gentleman that unfortunately I am not really able to understand. The harem is really interesting. The thought of women living here like a college sorority. It is not as lush as the Palace but it definitely gave you a look into that of a harem of the 1800's 

We walk from the Palace to Galata Tower. It was part of the fortifications for the Genoese in 1349. We bought tickets to go to the top. Paul has been hit by a fear of heights ever since our trip to Italy in 2002. He tried it anyway but when he got to the top he wasn't able to let go of the wall. He stood frozen terrified out of his mind. He didn't stay long. A shame because the view from here was fabulous. You could see the skylines peppered with the minarets of the mosques. The slight haze only provided a romantic blanket over the city as the boats made their journeys up and down the Bosporus. 

We decided to head back to the spice market to replace what was left in the Taxi yesterday. That journey took us down to the Golden Horn and across the Galata Bridge. The galata bridge was filled with restaurants selling fresh seafood. We were saving our appetite for our favorite restaurant in Istanbul, Omar's. Our friends from Develi spices were so excited to see us. Even Baba, the patriarch was happy to see us again. The girls made their purchase and Cory and I decided to buy some massage oil. The Develi guys insisted that we take a complimentary jar of Turkish Viagra that guaranteed "5 times in one night" even though I insisted that we didn't need it. 

Omar's www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFaHRsHKJe4

We were starving by the time that we got back to Omar's They gave us a seat right out front. I think as a bit of advertising. We played it up to the fullest beckoning the tourist that were walking by. We actually got a few to come in. Fatih insisted on treating us to complimentary bread and wine. They really took great care of us and spent lots of time doting on us. The owner sent over a bottle of wine. It is going to be so hard to leave the wonderful people of Turkey but tomorrow we are off to Athens.

We all took a Taxi back to Taksim Square. This time we decided to split the other group up. Paulie rode with Cory and I and Jeremiah rode with the girls. We just wanted to find out why they had such a hard time. We started off how we always do. "Merhaba Benim Adim Laura" We talked about Turkey and its wonderful people, For a short time we made friends with our driver. At one point the two taxis pulled up next to each other. Our driver rolled down the window and the two drivers talked in Turkish. As we pulled away our driver said that they said we were nice people. Did they? We certainly didn't know. When we got to Taksim Square our driver said, "my meter isn't working right, you pay me what you think." We had made that same route to Taksim square 3 times. We knew the exact cost so we paid what we had in the past plus a little tip.  He smiled.

When Jeremiah arrived with the girls they paid for their fare and as they walked away from the taxi both of the girls said simultaneously, "Ohhhhh! You talk to them." I guess the three of them got in the cab and never said a word. Most of the Turkish  that we met are very gregarious and they love to make new friends. It seems that all along what was saving Cory, Jeremiah and I, was my big mouth!!!!

I am thinking that our drivers tonight were related or friends and that they work together to decide if they are going to take a person as a mark. When we yucked it up with our driver and he liked us he decided that we were nice tourist and shouldn't be taken. That seems to be when he stopped his friend and they discussed a fair fare.

So finally we figured out why Paul, Christina and Heather had money taken twice by taxi drivers. Unfortunately we are leaving in the morning and will not be able to use that information.

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