16 Nov – The opulence of sultans

We wore coats today as it was cool, but by lunch time the sun was shining. A lovely fall day.

Yesterday we noted, and this was confirmed again today, that Istanbul – at least this part of the city – is really clean. There are waste bins pretty much every where and there is no garbage, not even a cigarette butt, on the ground! Also the traffic is quiet – no horn beeping. Locals are friendly and helpful – especially if they hope one might shop in their family run store in which they sell the best whatever’s in the city!

Today a fellow stopped us on the street to tell us how handsome our new Primeminter is, and that he is currently in Turkey. He seemed quite enthusiastic about all this.

Dad and I had a full day – we spent almost all of it at Topapi Palace! Eye candy everywhere. The palace harem is simply over the top so I’ll include a few pictures of that. Every wall is floor to ceiling tiled in brilliant blues, greens, yellows and white with sparkling gold trims. The place is a warren of opulent rooms – probably secret passages too!  The inhabitants  lived as an enormous family. The eunuchs, the queen, the daughters, the princes (there was a note about the princes being educated within those walls). I find myself wondering about just what kind of princely education is being talked about here?  The sultan had one of his audience rooms within the harem as well.

The palace complex is up on a hill at the end of a peninsula in the Europe side of Istanbul. It commands a fine view of the water below. We were busy admiring that view, taking pictures, watching the very busy ship traffic, when dad saw our cruise ship, the Viking Star, looking very pretty on the other side of the strait. We go onboard tomorrow afternoon after a morning in the Grand Bazzar.

When’s the last time you had roasted chestnuts? For me it was many years ago – over 30 for sure – until this afternoon. There were many food carts along the hippodrome selling them. Delicious. This snack gave us the energy to descend into the dark and enormous depths of Istanbul’s Byzantine cistern. True to the legend – fish were swimming in the subterranean waters. The area is vast, stretching further than the eye can see. There is even a cafe down there (a recent addition). People  explore along a raised walk-way suspended over the water running between the hundreds of columns holding up the high vaulted ceiling over which the city is built.

Back on the surface dad called it a day! He’s not much into walking and we’d been on our feet for a few hours! He missed his afternoon siesta today so is snoozing now. I think we’ll try for an early dinner this evening. Seven or so is about the soonest dinners are served around here! We’ve found an excellent beer – Efes. Of course the food is outstanding! There is a phenomenal blend – east meets west, and north meets south. It’s all served up in a cornucopia of delicious dishes.

The cistern.



8 thoughts on “16 Nov – The opulence of sultans

  1. While you & your Dad are immersed in culture, sound, and sun, we are having our own whirling dervish of wild winds and sideways rain.
    Your photos & descriptions capturing some of the beauty and grandeur are most alluring. My mouth is watering thinking about the epicure delights,
    And what a pleasant surprise to read about the cleanliness & quiet that you’ve experienced – much different than I had imagined.

    • Good morning Ms Kathy! You’d go crazy over the choices of food here! And all the flavours – omg – incredible!
      Dad and I have both commented how Istanbul puts many European cities we’ve visited to shame. How grim you and I found the graffiti and grubby run down nature of Athens! Here there is a sense of pride of place, prosperity, order….. Admittedly we’ve only seen a tiny segment of the city but we are staying off the beaten track (of course) and the small roads leading to our hotel are just as tidy as the more upscale areas.
      Brr – the weather at home sounds very Novemberish! Hope it brings snow to our mountain!

  2. Funny Sally, turkeys in Turkey. I think it’s meant to be a peacock… Dad says hi. He’s climbing into bed – we wore him out today! Just had dessert which was melted cheese with sweet coconut on top. Sounds hideous but was delicious. The Turkes love desserts – and make all kinds of delectable delights – you’d feel well appreciated here!

  3. Kim, we enjoy so much your descriptions and photos. The mosaics are awe inspiring; can only imagine what they’d be like as you stand before them!
    What a wonderful father-daughter adventure…
    Leslie and Bruce

    • Hi Leslie and Bruce! It is indeed amazing! Four days not enough to even scratch the surface of this fabulous city. I’m so glad this is not my last visit here. Have already started a list of must sees and dos for next time round – about one year from now!

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