Let’s start with the Underwhelmed part. My new friend and I awoke early to go to Topkapi Palace which was the home of the Sultan and his family for almost 300 years. We arrived prior to its opening and still had to stand in line, but it was a short line compared to the rest of the tour of the Palace! Fortunately, we toured the Harem first then the rest of the Palace. By the time we exited the Harem, the lines to see the other major exhibits were HUGE, like, so big they weren’t worth waiting in. Plus, there are almost no signs to tell you where you are, so it’s very difficult to find where you want to go. Additionally, if you didn’t hire a tour guide, there is no information other than an expensive book guide to give you further history (and that’s what I want since I’m a nerd). It was gorgeous, the tiles were simply stunning, there was so much diversity in the styles of them, but we didn’t see that much of the Palace because it was just so hard to maneuver. I want to offer to volunteer as their curator to fix all of their sign and information problems. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
Most useful sign ever…said no one ever! But at least there was some beauty as well:
Also incredibly annoying are all of the merchant men leering and you and calling you “Sweetheart” to get you into their restaurants and shops. I hate ignoring them, it feels rude, but it’s just kind of gross.
Now for the AMAZING parts of the day:
1. Turkish Breakfast is about the best thing ever, and our hostel puts on an excellent spread. They eat breads, cheeses, fruit (fresh), tomatoes, granola, yogurt, etc. It’s the perfect way to start the day.
2. I walked over to the Caferage Medresesi, which is an arts center where you can take lessons in Turkish crafts. Initially I had gone to get a schedule for their Ebru class (see prior post: Classes). I ended up getting a private lesson right there and spent an hour making art! It was SO much fun to see it work and explore different techniques. I will pick up my dried art tomorrow and will take pictures for you then. Seriously, I was giddy afterwards. The whole process involves painting on a canvas of water with an oil based paint, then transferring the paint to paper. I think when I return home I will look into getting the supplies to do it at home because it was such fun.
3. My friend Kelly who is from Portland lives here in Istanbul where she teaches English. I brought 2 of my new hostel friends (I’ve now made 4 because I am so popular), and we met Kelly who took us to the area of the Galata Tower for a Turkish dinner (I had lamb kepab….Yum!). We sat and visited for quite a while before going to get some of the best Baklava ever. There are riots in Taksim Square which isn’t far from where we were, so Kelly headed home and the three of us tourists came back to the Old City.
4. On the way back from there, we stopped at the New Mosque, which is 350 years old. We got there just before the Call to Prayer, so just spent a couple of minutes there. It was lovely:
5. While at Topkapi Palace, we sat for a while at a cafe and talked to a tour guide who was on his break, he gave us excellent tips and didn’t try to sell us anything!
The best part: It’s almost midnight and I could probably keep going even though I woke up at 7:30. If you know me at all, you know I tire very easily, so this is an excellent sign than I am having fun!
Not sure what’s in store for tomorrow yet, it will depend on the riots I think, but don’t worry, I will stay far away from them!