It was not long ago that we were seated on a restaurant's terrace when someone came up with the idea of going to Istanbul on 1 May since we had a few days off for Easter and everything. From a group of 7 people, we eventually ended up going only 2 of us: my best friend and I. I think her husband managed to panic a little when he heard that it would have been only us girls in a city full of men who cannot help asking you "where are you from?" We didn't pretty much cared, just wanted a nice holiday for ourselves. All being said, we booked the hotel and bought our plane tickets and off we went.
We left on 30 April in the morning and we arrived at the hotel in Istanbul around 2 pm, after praying for our lives in the crazy traffic of Istanbul. We checked-in and didn't waste too much time, grabbed a map and we left towards the Dolmabahce Palace, on the shore of Bosphorus.
It was a wonderful day outside, sunny and very warm. The palace was looking amazing! The concept of the palace was developed by the sultan Abdul Mecit in 1843 and the castle was opened in 1856. It has 46 rooms full of gold and crystal, trying to compare to the Versailles palace. The last sultan that lived in the palace left for exile in 1922. The famous Ataturk lived here until his death on 10 November 1938 and all the clocks in the palace are stopped at the hour of his death, 9:05.
All the above information I got from a guide published by Dorling Kindersley and not from the guide who accompanied us in the palace because I couldn't understand much of what he was saying. He had a very funny accent, palace was "pee-yeah-luhs" and it was the first time when I realised that the word "scared" could have around 5 sylables and not only one.
After the tour inside the palace, including the harem, we went outside to look over the Bosphorus and took some very nice photos. Click on the photos below for a larger size.
From the Dolmabahce Palace, we hurried towards the Galata Tower, but we stopped to eat something on the way because we were starving. Got to the tower and was a bit disappointed by the fact that the coffee shop inside was closed at that hour. I left Leila downstairs and I went up into the balcony of the famous tower.
We jumped into a taxi after the tour ended and finished our day with a nice dinner in a restaurant close to our hotel near the Taksim square. I became a fan of ayran and I only wish all dairy products were as good as that!
Once I have finished visiting those two, we went to the Kabatas pier to try once again to go to Adalar. It worked this time and we got on a boat full of locals and tourists. We were crushed by two Turkish women who didn't care that the bench we were sitting on was for maximum 3 persons and 2+2 = 4. I found it a bit peculiar when I opened the map to look at the islands and one of them started pointing to stuff on it and talking to her friend. Hmmm...We went to Buyukada, the largest island and the last on the way. First thing we did was to get a huge ice cream, then we hopped into a carriage that took us through the streets of the islands. At the end of the trip, we climbed a hill for about 15 minutes and we ended up to the Ayia Yorgi, a little orthodox church. Lovely view from up there. We bought some souvenirs and hurried to catch the boat back to Istanbul. Another wonderful sunset, we saw dolphins and then it started raining...
Tesekkur ederim, Istanbul!