2010-06-02 -- Istanbul

We started the day with a tour of Topkapi Palace, and Topkapi Palace Harem.

The Palace had lots of beautiful, precious and interesting pieces, none of which allowed photography. The first section had four chambers, filled with intricately shaped gold and carved stones. A quite effective show of wealth, but no special significance attached to anything. The second section wasn't nearly as showy, but the objects had significance. I especially enjoyed a set of golden keys (not skeleton keys) used to lock (once) and unlock (once) a case that held dust swept from the floor of a temple (IIRC). The keys looked so delicate and fragile that I found it hard to believe they did anything at all -- that they were purely symbolic.

The Harem was also split into sections, at least three. One for the delivery of food and etc to the harem, one for the delivery of that food to the living quarters, and the living quarters.

We ate lunch at Changa, technically at Muzedechanga, the restaurant at the Sakip Sabanci Museum (wikipedia). The museum was holding holding the "Transcending Borders with Brush and Pen" exhibit, subtitled "Selected Works of Eastern and Western Caligraphy". No photos were allowed, and there were more guards than visitors.

Dinner was just us three, at the hotel. I had a couple of appetizers, the Harira Soup (lamb, eggs, chick peas and vermicilli, dates, lemon and pita bread) and a Falafel Platter. The soup was excellent, and it's hard to make a very bad falafel. No photos, not sure why; maybe I didn't have the camera, or maybe it just wasn't anything exciting -- I'm guessing nothing exciting.


Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 24.0 mm; 1/640 sec, f/4.0, ISO 200
Topkapi Palace had a....a Disney-esque feel to it, from the silly castle towers....



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 16.0 mm; 1/500 sec, f/9.1, ISO 1600
....to the massive crowd. The crowd had a definite wave to it, definitely powered by a cruise ship. We tried hard (and mostly succeeded) to stay ahead of the wave.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 16.0 mm; 1/80 sec, f/4.0, ISO 1600
In the end, some parts of the Harem were worth it. This is the chamber of Sultan Abdulhamid I. Musicians would perform on the stage to the left, and dancers in the middle. The carpet is one piece, gigantic, and obviously hand made.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 16.0 mm; 1/80 sec, f/4.0, ISO 1600
This was, maybe, a chamber for the queen or her maids, or I don't actually remember. Nevertheless, the glass was nice.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 16.0 mm; 1/1600 sec, f/4.0, ISO 800
Outside, the last picture is inside the building on the left. Here, the guide told us a story about how the non-first born sons would spend their entire life "captive" in the Harem. Maybe that was what the last picture was.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 35.0 mm; 1/1250 sec, f/4.0, ISO 400
On the way out, it just started to rain. I shot this on the run, just beacuse the decoration was so pretty. Guided tours suck for discovering great photos.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 16.0 mm; 1/100 sec, f/12.9, ISO 800
From a moving bus, the original Roman Aqueduct. Unbelievable that this is considered so ordinary that a road can be built through it (yes, this happens all over the place; I'm not claiming it's the only place a road goes through something ancient).



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 35.0 mm; 1/250 sec, f/12.9, ISO 800
More moving bus photos. One of the bridges to the golden horn was filled with fishermen, trying to catch anything.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/30 sec, f/2.7, ISO 80
Changa Sucuk (spicy sausage), Humus and Rockets (Roka Salatasi).



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/60 sec, f/2.7, ISO 80
Spinach and Lor Cheese Tortellini with Porcini and Creamy Lemon Sauce.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/320 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
The Sakip Sabanci Museum. Please, dear architects and landscape designers, DO NOT put light poles in front of pretty buildings.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 7.8 mm; 1/160 sec, f/8.0, ISO 80
The horse in front of the Sakip Sabanci Museum.



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