We woke late again, trying to take it easy for at least some of the time on our trip. Today we decided to hit the Dolmabahçe Palace which is just north of the Istanbul Hilton. This is the palace where the father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk died on November 10, 1938. It was built in 1856 as a more modern, European palace than the Topkapi Palace for the royal family to live. Ownership was transferred to the Republic of Turkey in 1924, and Ataturk, the country’s first president, used it as his summer residence until his death.
We paid to do the walking tour through the upper apartments of the palace, including Ataturk’s bedroom. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but we did wander the grounds and took pictures in the beautiful gardens surrounding the palace. There are two separate tours you have to pay for to see the whole place. You also have to wait in line for the next time the tour opens up. We only did the upper tour as a result, since we didn’t feel like waiting around for the second tour.
Before our tour, we found this aviary tucked into a back corner of the grounds. As Chris and I were exploring, we went into the building and a sweet, older Turkish man took us around the place. We couldn’t understand anything he was saying, but he was clearly thrilled to be able to show off his birds and very proud of the place. It was really cool; no one else even came close to the area, so it was just the three of us wandering around taking pictures of these pretty birds and their cool, intricate cages.
We met a nice Australia couple in the tour and we walked with them north from the palace to Ortakoy, which took about 30 min. There we shopped a little and rested at a Starbucks. Say what you will about Starbucks, no matter where I’ve been in the world, there has always been a Starbucks with a clean bathroom to depend on. We found these fantastic pictures of Istanbul taken in the 1920s and 1930s at one of the street shops.
From there, we walked back towards our hotel and stopped in Yıldız Park. It was hilly and green, but not much else. We took some pretty pictures and then cabbed it back to our hotel.
After a quick snack in the lounge, we had Nakkas, the high end rug and textile shop recommended to us by our guide the first day, pick us up for some shopping at their store. I like to buy one crazy nice souvenir for myself when I go on a big trip and we hadn’t had any luck finding anything we liked the day before, so we went back to Nakkas. It is a very lovely store, but they did make me angry toward the end of the evening. Our sales guy obviously assumed we were crazy wealthy, despite how seriously we were taking the purchase. We bought two beautiful tiles, which they framed for us, a small vase, and a silver replica of the Blue Mosque for my mother. Our salesman tried to get us to buy a thousand dollar bowl (which was more than we’d spent on everything else together) at the last minute which was highly irritating. The tiles are lovely, though.
We relaxed and ate at this fantastic Lebanese restaurant at the hotel that night. Another fun-filled day done. Only one to go!