Day 14 – Istanbul – Last Day! – Serpentine Column, The Great Masters, Museum of Modern Art, & Rahmi M Koç Museum

So sad – our last day in Istanbul!

The Hippodrome is filled with bits of culture and history and I only had one item left to shoot The Serpentine Column – it used to stand in front of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi but now most of it is gone – we have sketches and pieces of it – but mostly it is just a broken off twist of metal.

I left the last day for the less that important activities (in terms of the film) – we had seen the sights and done our shopping so this last day was just about a little bit of fun.  I had asked John Grabowski (who is quite the Istanbulophile) what might be missing from my list of things to do and he suggested I check out the Rahmi M Koç Museum.  My friend Andrea had suggest I also look into visiting the Prince’s Islands (where the banished Princes used to live) but it is impossible to go on the weekends and often tourists get stranded for the night without a ferry back.  Reports also have it that while the islands are lovely and serene (no cars – only bicycles and horse drawn carriages) that it is also a huge tourist trap and a costly one at that.  So maybe another year. Bilge was upset that I didn’t have dinner at Maiden’s Island.

Our first stop was to hit the Museum of Modern Art – Istanbul Modern, however when we got off the tram we saw a big sign for an exhibition we had seen advertised everywhere called The Great Masters: Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael and decided to check it out.  It was in a very nice building – The Tophane Kasrı  (which means Cannon factory – which the neighborhood was) –  and after we paid to get in we realized it was kind of a scam.  There was nothing original! It is a traveling exhibition of multimedia, replicas, and mounted prints.  The audio tour is cute but it wasn’t worth the money – some interesting items to be sure – I liked the mirror room but overall not what I expected.

Across the street we visited Istanbul Modern – which is mostly Turkish Artists.  It was a mix of – “that’s very nice” and “really? I’ve seen that before and done better”  One installation of note had hundreds of books hanging from the ceiling creating an artificial ceiling – the effects was spectacular.  They had a photography exhibition which again was mixed and had on display a very old panorama of Istanbul taken from Galata Tower – funnily enough I had just worked on one for work which was 6 years older!

Next we headed to Rahmi M Koç Museum.  After I got there I realized I had heard of this place before.  It is billed as a museum of transportation and industry but in reality it is a private museum that houses the bizarre collection of a very very wealthy man.  There is the car collection – it has one of everything and it goes on forever.  But not just cars, he has planes, tanks, boats, trains (yes trains), a ferry boat, and a submarine.  This is the most insane collection of stuff I have every seen in one place – and it really went on forever!  Each room was more lavish than the next.  There was an extra price for the submarine and when we got there the man spoke Turkish (and only Turkish).  Right before the tour I looked up the submarine wondering when the Turkish navy had one and it turns out that it is in fact a WWII US Submarine that was sold to the Turkish in 1971.  As we went through the Turkish tour Amanda kept pointing out that the labels on everything were in English and that while the instruments and been relabeled in Turkish we could still get a good idea what was going on.

Upstairs the museum had a collection of – more of everything – but a lot of things about the Turkish Republic.  Also technology – they had a display of almost every Apple Computer and iPod.  There was also a hands on section where you could play with things like blocks and a giant bubble wall.  This place really caters to all ages.  The DC-3 was fun to climb into as where the Sultan’s private train cars.

Did I learn anything about Turkish history or culture? I can’t say.  But I highly recommend this museum!

With the day winding down and lots of packing to do – we headed to the restaurant where we had promised to go to dinner and I had an excellent meal of lamp chops, rice pudding, and apple tea.  Back at the hotel they asked to take our picture with them.  In the past 3 years I have spent 5 weeks at this hotel – I am guessing that makes me a good customer.

I backed up the video files to an external hard drive (almost 400GB of data) and packed it all up.

In the morning we caught the shuttle to the airport and they crammed so many people into that van it was ridiculous!

At the airport Amanda was heading to the US and I was heading domestically to Antalya where I would then drive to central Turkey.

I waited to make sure that Amanda wouldn’t have any baggage problems.  We decided to pool our souvenirs into a single bag and to have her check it back to America for the $100 baggage fee.  At the counter there was a problem and after much waiting they said that while they could check the bag they couldn’t figure out how to charge her for it… so it was FREE!

After she checked in I headed to the domestic counter – baggage there is much different and every year I have to pay a lot of money.  With domestic flights they weigh everything (even carry-on) and then charge you per KG you are over.  However when I checked in – he only weighed my one bag and charged me 21TL for extra weight (which is $13).  I was nervous all the way until I boarded the plane because my carry-on bags didn’t have the little ‘approved’ tag on them like everyone else.  In the end – no one said anything and boarded without a problem.

In Antalya I was met by our non-English speaking driver who drove me the 2+ hours to Gonen (in silence).

Amanda had some trouble in NJ (not by customs but by security) but she managed to get everything home and nothing was broken.

Thus endeth the Istanbul adventure.

I will post more about my misadventures in Gonen soon – but not the “play-by-play” that I did for Istanbul.

Hope you enjoyed the stories and here are more pictures:

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