July 10th, 2008

Willow

Still lovin' the 'bul

Sigh ... so after a marathon phonecall tonight, I am rushing to post all these with my head swimming. We also had a very full day today, with information overload and looking at the photos, well, P is right in that some things do start to look alike.

So, in backwards order. We finished the day at the Eqyptian Bazaar, also called the Spice Markets.
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Having read the guide, I discovered that what I actually wanted to buy was coffee and not from inside the bazaar but off on a sidestreet where they package their own name brand and locals queue to buy some. That, of course is the stuff *I* want. So, armed with that mission, I did indeed get some. Other than that, the bazaar is much less impressive than the Grand Bazaar but it still does it's own show with lots of smells and flavours - spices, tea, turkish delight and ... turkist viagra (5 times a night!! the sign promises) *shrug*. The bazaar is much smaller than the Grand one but still well worth the trip. I really really really want a turkish coffee set but I think my suitcase is very near full.

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We ended our hectic day with a quick sit down for coffee inside the bazaar. I am really quite getting the taste for turkish coffee - I like its efficiency:

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Then we had the cab ride from hell on the way back. We got caught in a 20 minute traffic jam as cars merged from all directions to head down this street which unfortunately goes past the American Embassy who has strict security (causing the grid lock)
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I could not drive in Istanbul - the traffic is crazy, the streets are incredibly narrow and you have to be insanely aggressive or brave. From what I can tell, the upshot is noone really goes all that fast, so I guess the damage wouldn't be *so* bad?
Willow

Topkapi Surayi

Today we did the Topkapi Palace. I'm breaking this into two posts - the palace and then the Harem.

The Palace was pretty damn fine. Placed on the top of the hill, it overlooks the city and takes advantage of the pleasant breeze. Although it was I guess a warm day, I didn't really notice and I could almost see and touch courtiers lazing about the day in the spectacular gardens. D has the other half of the photos, so I may upload those when I get home (and he emails them to me).

So then ... the highlights? Well, for me The highlight was probably The Harem although there are many many splendid and spectacular things to see at Topkapi - we spent the whole morning, had lunch and then another hour and I would guess we saw about half of it. Famous things to see here are the Sacred Relics which include the 86 carat diamond (clue - it's *big*) and the Topkapi Dagger (I thought the little painted on fruit basket just sent it over into *too much*). Generally though, I found that on larger, spectacular gilded items, hundreds of rubies and emeralds really are not *too much* at all. But then ... I think I might be losing my cultural context.

This is me standing in the Gate of Felicity:
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and a larger shot of the actual gate:
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Almost all the paths lead to this gate, and beyond this into the main events area.

Some stunning tiles and other whatnots, I think these are mostly from the Circumcision Room (which also doubles as a Summer Room, conveniently)
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I'm also having a "thing" about ceilings this week ... this could be partially why:
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And this is the fountain just outside of the Bevan Room (where they kept the turbans - nice to have such a collection that needs it's own room, no? Spectacular views of Istanbul surround)
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Willow

or

This could have been the reason for the traffic jam:

AT least two police officers were killed when armed assailants opened fire outside the US consulate in Istanbul, CNN Turk television said.

Television images appeared to show four bodies on the ground in front of the high-walled complex.

The US embassy in Ankara said it was aware of an incident near the Istanbul consulate, but had no further details.


from news.com.au
Willow

Topkapi - The Harem

The Harem really was the highlight for me today. I think it just needs a sweep and a couple of throw pillows and it'd be ready for me to move in. (Do play "spotto" for the annoying Italian tourist who was frigging well 3.5 steps ahead of me for the whole thing).

So ... The Harem. Here is me standing in the courtyard leading into the building. I look unimpressed, I already hate the Italian. I just loved the stoned paths which were throughout the Harem.
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Random bathroom type spaces for the Sultan:
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And because *I* wanted to know:
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Beautiful rooms and places to laze about:
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And ceilings
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Courtyards to plot politics of the pecking order and favourites and to look out of the city you can never visit:
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Better quarters for princes:
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I just really loved it. So opulent. So ... wrong ...