Day 08 – Istanbul – Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, & Istiklal Caddesi

Today was very hot – I mean its been hot all week – but today I really felt it.

Of course waiting in line 90 minutes to get into Dolmabahce Palace didn’t help!

It is a wonderful 19th century palace – last home of the Sultan’s and first home of the president of Turkey. They don’t allow photography or video on the inside and the have two different tours (one of the main palace and one of the harem section).  You have to see the inside via tour groups and the English groups are barely English – they are more like non-Turkish and everyone else just tries to get what he is saying – our guide kept going into French and Spanish and it turned it into an English lesson in vocabulary.  Like most guides he spent a lot of his time yelling at people to not take photos, touch the furniture, and too keep up. While it may sound torturous it is an awesome palace built in the European style and has a very Versailles like feel to it.  The last hall is enormous and just the one room alone is worth the entire tour – the dome is painted to look bigger than it is – and it is pretty big to begin with.  The harem section or private living quarters are nice and not as ornate – it is funny to see the bathrooms – just lovely marble holes in the the floors.  This section has the rooms that the Ataturk spent his last days in – he died in the palace and all the clocks are stopped at the time he died.

The castle has a Crystal Pavilion and a clock museum that I had been to before but both were closed – I was feeling a little cheated but the aviary was open and the peacocks were quite active. Amanda loved shooting the peacock footage I think she has some other project in mind for it.  Amanda has been a real trooper throughout the trip – very focused – climbing castle walls – braving the heat and the crowds and looking for the perfect shot – she also likes to feed the feral cats and I would guess she would try and rescue them all if she could.

After the palace we headed to Taksim Square which is just a very busy square and the ‘heart of modern Turkey’.  Adjacent to it is Istiklal Caddesi A 3km pedestrian only street full of shopping and boutiques (and 4 Starbucks).  There is a trolley that runs down the street but we didn’t see it – we later found out because the police were getting ready to head to Taksim and when we saw the troops in full riot gear heading towards the square we headed away from it – I am told they are always like that when there is a protest and that it wasn’t trouble.  The trolly did run after they cleared through but we just walked all the way down to Galata.  I am saving Galata tower for another day so I can get some better lighting.

Then back to our side of town for a quick bite of dinner and the hotel.

Now for the interesting news.  I was wearing my video glasses all day and I have footage of Dolmabahce and of the Police marching – I haven’t seen it all yet but I think some of it might have come out!

Tomorrow we cruise the Bosphorous and visit a castle in Asia!

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