Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Istanbul part 3 - Dolmabahçe Palace, new friends and a visit to Taksim square

April 5, 2016

We decided to walk down to Topkapi palace to visit but, upon arrival were told that is was closed. We decided to take the metro down to another famous palace situated alongside the Bosphorus River (Dolmabahçe Palace). 

The metro system in Istanbul is wonderful. If you do travel there make certain to make use of their Metro Card (there is a small 7-10 TL deposit), this card cuts the rates in half which makes it well worth it. Lucky for us a staff member at our hotel had an extra one that we were able to use.  We took it to the last stop in Kabatas and walked down the street to the entrance of the palace.

Once we entered, we walked through the courtyard up to the main entrance to the palace. We had to put on booties to preserve the interior as we walked through. It was a guided group tour that felt rushed. Our particular guide was jaded and started to yell at a group that continuously was arriving late and loud to the main group. One of the people in the group proceeded to argue with him and it got a bit uncomfortable. I agreed with both parties but have to say that it might have been better for the client to bring up the argument later. We were unable to take any video or pictures of the interior. It was of grandeur that I will never understand (especially as I live on a boat). 

tower at the entrance
the gate to enter the palace courtyard
the intricate gate panels
view of the Bosphorus River from the courtyard
another view of the river
a centrepiece for the fountain in the centre of the courtyard
one of many stone carvings throughout the gardens

sporting our booties to preserve the inside of the palace

After the main palace we decided to take the tour of the Hareme. Not the traditional Hareme that you might be thinking but, the living quarters of the Sultan, his four wives and his mother. Again were were not allowed to take photos and had to sport the blue booties. 

The Sultan was the only male allowed to live in these quarters. His sons were allowed to live in the Harem until their circumcision, after that they had to move out to the princes quarters (which now is the painting museum). The Sultans mother ran the Harem and her private quarters were centralised so that she was able to see what was going on. Within were also the private quarters of his four wives along with many sitting rooms. 

After the Harem we sat at the café to rest our feet, have a çay and to use the public washroom (this was one of the dirtiest we have encountered). Once we were finished we decided to check out the clock museum. WOW! There were some incredible clocks here, along with several one offs (meaning , these were the only ones in existence). Same theme though, no photos.....

out front of the clock museum
As we made our way over to the crystal museum we came across these guinea foul. They are a purple bird with white dots and walk around in groups following one another...... Very fun to watch.

guinea foul in the garden
We walked through the crystal museum (which consisted of a terrarium of crystal figures) and back outside. The girls ran over to check out some caged birds while Shaun and I rested our feet. By this time we were pretty much finished and headed back to the main courtyard.

picture in front of the main fountain
As we were leaving we stopped by the clock tower and noticed an english speaking family. We struck up a conversation and found out that they were from Boston but were living in Shanghai for the past 11 years. Melissa and Steve have two daughters and the girls were instantly engrossed with each other. We happened to mention that we were heading to Taksin Square via the funicular (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabataş–Taksim_funicular) to grab an early dinner/late lunch (lupper). They asked if they could tag along, so off we went. It was a fantastic way to end the day.

walking down the pedestrian street from Taksim Square
restaurant of choice
new friends from left to right - Jordan, Nina, Talia, and Paige
statue in the middle of Taksim Square

Follow our video adventures on our YouTube channel: Video adventures of s/v Element


  1. Thank you for your blog...
    Good to know that it's safe to travel...
    I'm heading there next week-solo!
    Any tips?

    1. Hi there,
      1 - don't exchange your money at the airport (terrible rate and commissions)
      2 - study the Metro map online and print if possible. Best way to travel. The taxis aren't terrible but the Metro is more reasonable with the card.
      3 - Sultanahmet area is the most expensive area in Istanbul. If you do go and eat there try Pasha Restaurant (http://www.pasharestaurant.org/eng/index.html) mention that Shaun & Sherrie the Canadians sent you.
      4 - Apply for the online e-visa before you go here is the link: https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/
      5 - If anyone tries to befriend you while you are walking anywhere, they are trying to sell you a carpet and will say anything to get you to their shop.
      6 - Get to the Grand Bazaar and enjoy. ALWAYS bargain no matter what. Offer just under half of what they are offering and be prepared to walk away, 9 times out of 10 you will see it down the way or the shop owner will chase after you while lowering the price. Have fun with it.
      7 - take a good look at the 85 Turkish Lira museum card (read the fine print of places it allows you to visit and the term of time). It has value if you are wanting to visit the alloted places.
      8 - I don't know if you are only staying in Istanbul but, if you are interested in seeing other spots there are some great flight deals to other parts of Turkey with Turkish Airlines for between $30 - $50 USD including a meal and non-alcoholic drinks.

      I hope this is helpful. Let me know how your trip went. We will be leaving Turkey within the next few weeks.