I expected it to be a lot like the spice market we went to the day before, just on a grander scale. But it was quite different. Many of the “stalls” were actually like real jewelry or clothing stores. Other stalls were just selling quality knock offs. And of course there were many places selling your typical lights, ceramics, hookahs and scarves.
After seeing these all over the city for 3 days, I couldn’t stop thinking about having one in our house, so we finally found a very nice, non annoying salesman and bought a beautiful turquoise lamp with 5 dangling lights. I love it! But it was quite the adventure getting it sent home. You can read about that fiasco here. Despite all the hassle, it was surprisingly cheap to send it to the states, about 33 euros via ship cargo. I was pleased.
After we made our purchase, we quickly left because most of the salespeople are just too annoying.
We met up with Hamza again to go the the Dolmabahçe Palace. He actually had to go meet up with a friend but kindly stood in line with us to get tickets. We were glad to have his company because it took over an hour! We figured this place better be worth it! Apparently, its better to visit this place in the morning versus afternoon. But, thanks to our student residency cards, we got in for only 1 lira a piece which is 50 cents! Thank you student IDs!
While we waited in line, we saw the changing of the guards. I adore this picture on the right. So lovely!
The wait was actually quite worth it. The inside grounds are super beautiful with lots of lawn to lay around on. Also in one part theres peacocks strutting around.
The palace is right on the water. Those sultans were pretty smart, what a fantastic view.
Since we arrived in the afternoon, we had to choose between seeing the administration building or the living quarters. We chose the living quarters – they were gorgeous, super lavish, and very influenced by the palaces of western Europe. Unfortunately you weren’t allowed to take photos, so yall will just have to go visit for yourselves!
After the palace, we went back to the neighborhood around Galata Tower, the one we decided was our favorite. We had searched for this restaurant we read about, the Galata House, but it was closed for vacation until this day. It was an old British Jail turned residence turned jewelry store turned restaurant. The government gave it a special tourism license because of its historical importance. The restaurant has a reputation for having delicious Georgian and Russian food and a lively owner who sometimes plays the piano in the evenings. Unfortunately it was quite quiet the day we ate there but the food did not disappoint and neither did the service.
As we walked back to our hotel, we enjoyed one last sunset over the Bosphorus Strait. This city is enchanting, really.
That night we hopped on an overnight train to Sofia, Bulgaria, sharing our cabin with a sweet American guy who was traveling all over Europe. Despite being awoken several times for customs, night trains are so the way to go! We are now in Bucharest, Romania and I have to say that I wish we had several weeks to do Romania, I can already tell how much I love this country. Can’t wait to share the pictures from here and our 3 days in Bulgaria!