Oct.04.2010, Istanbul

supper on the Divanyolu C.

0800  blue skies, some clouds, 20 C.  Breakfast 0845 (last one in the bathroom this morning).  I am sitting on a broken piece of marble column in front of the Yeribatan Sarnici Basilica Cistern as I write this at 1515, waiting for Richard and Kathy.  Debbie and Lindsay have gone back to the hotel to check on Chrystal who was not feeling well this morning and stayed there while we 3 went to the Topkapi Palace.

After getting Chrystal some water, peach juice and other juice drink for the day, and after talking to the front desk clerk about our missing laundry and tomorrow’s shuttle out to the airport, we headed to the Topkapi Palace at about 1000.  Richard’s cold is still bothering him – he is going to a hamam (Turkish bath) today to sweat it out.  Kathy is off to her cooking class 1100 – 1500.  I will attempt to meet them at the Cistern at 1530 – 1545.

Topkapi Palace, 20 YTL ea.  Lindsay is in charge of the camera today, taking pictures for Chrystal as she couldn’t come with us.  After entry, went straight through to 3rd courtyard and the treasury rooms which hold all the jewels.  The Topkapi dagger and the world’s 5th largest diamond “Spoonmaker’s”, reportedly found by a young person in rough cut shape in a bazaar.  From treasury, now a huge line up to get into this part of the palace.  We walked back to 2nd courtyard and 10 YTL tickets for the Harem, no lineup.  Went through that area.  Rooms are mostly unadorned at present except for occasional thrones and beds.

From Harem walking towards the 4th courtyard we saw a line up, checked the map and joined in about 40 people back.  Into the northwest section of the 3rd courtyard to see the relics of the prophets, including Moses’ walking staff, items attributed to Abraham, David and Joseph.  Saw the lower arm and hand of John the Baptist encased in gold and his occipital bone (front of skull) in an ornate box.  Many relics of Mohammed – a lot of beard hairs in little gold boxes and tubes, foot print of Mohammed, his mantle in a box and his standard also in a box, so couldn’t see the actual items.

Mixed warm and cool, sun and cloud, about 24 C.  Out to the 4th courtyard.  Pool, viewpoint, circumsision room, physician’s tower – mostly gardens.  Great views from various sides here.  Back to 3rd courtyard.  Throne room, library, Hall of the Expeditionary Force which has costumes on display – super large caftans and pants.  2nd courtyard, kitchens not open nor stables.  Saw the place where the council met – the “Divan” and Eye of the Sultan.  Left grounds at about 1500.  Picked up a cimit from a street vendor.

Did we see the “Cage” where they young princes were kept – essentially locked up?  Not sure, don’t think so and can’t find it on the map.

Tired but happy to have seen the Topkapi Palace.  Debbie and Lindsay went back to the Turkoman Hotel to check on Chrystal.  I went to the entrance of the Yerebatan Sarnici Basilica Cistern and wrote in my journal until Richard and Kathy showed up at 1530.  10 YTL entry – not really worth it but interesting.  Water about 1 or 2 ft. deep, nicely lit up, enormous number of pillars of a variety of styles.  Saw the 2 medusa head columns.  Water dripping from the ceiling in numerous locations.  I enjoyed seeing it.

Richard and Kathy and I sat in Sultanahmet Park until 1630 when I left to meet Debbie, Lindsay and Chrystal at the ATM machines.  We crossed the street, started looking for a place to eat – Chrystal hadn’t eaten all day yet.  We found Richard & Kathy again seated at a sidewalk cafe and we sat at the adjacent table, had some good cheap food.  Deb and Chrystal had bowls of spaghetti, Lindsay and I had donaires.  Still, not as much or any tsatziki in the donair so it’s drier than I am used to.

1730  Took the girls back into the Grand Bazaar.  Chrystal and Lindsay bought lamps and jewelry.  Debbie bought a couple of pashminas (scarves).  We closed the bazaar at 1900.  A good way to finish our last night in Istanbul – colour, sounds, smells – tried to take it all in.

Back to hotel, quick shower then up to the terrace for a couple of beer.  Chrystal and Lindsay had some sort of vodka drinks made up special for them.

1000 Downstairs to pay hotel bill.  2000 YTL? that will look good on the Visa.  Richard shocked by the daily rate of 139E – too high for what he expected.

Good news!  our laundry was returned today!

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