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Before going into the palace we managed to get a guide after haggling. A family from Sri Lanka and two italians joined our group. our guide spoke several languages fluently and explained many of the facts and stories about the palace in  our respective languages. he was surprised when I mentioned year enscribed in arabic text above the main gate. I have forgotten teh majority of the Arabic i managed to learn but the numbers remained I guess.

He went on to talk about the flower of Turkey being teh tulip because the shape of the Tulip resembles the shape of the word Allah written in Arabic and also talked about the national color of Turkey being Turquois. In fact the country, he said, gets its name from the name of the stone of the same name.

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This ostrich egg plated in gold was an old way of deterring Spiders. The gold plating is not necessary for this to work. IMG_0034 (640x427) IMG_0045 (640x427) IMG_0050 (640x427)

After spending several hours walking around the complex I felt I had gotten a feel for the place but Sara and Megan wanted to pay extra to go see the Harem and I was starving and craving another one of those cheap fish sandwiches so I took a walk down along the shore. What a miserable choice! After beating the wind and cold I made it to where the guy would have been set up but not a soul was there. So still hungry I tried a short cut back but ended up meandering through a huge park and past a military installment of some sort.

When I made it back to the hostal and found the girls. We went out to check out the Blue mosque, the icon of Istanbul. a woman and her small son went in and crossed the line where tourists normally stop. Women have to have their shoulders covered but other than that there should be no problems. That physical line that was crossed was where the mens prayer area begins. Men and women pray in separate areas of the Mosque, women at the back on the first and scond floor. She was thrown out of the mosque.IMG_0098 (640x397)

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We ran into Elodie, Remi and Amina and from there decided to get some food together but I ended up splitting up from Sara and Megan and went of with the frenchies to look for food. We wandered down towards some buses but not speaking Turkish was a disaster. I had heard of a neighborhood called Beshiktas from when a friend went a few years back and noticed one bus had that written on it so we boarded and tried to pay but they guy tried gesturing that we had to pay at some other place first. after standing there for a minute with faces of half feigned and half honest confusion the guy just waved us onto the bus  with the one or two other passengers and shut the door. And before we  could get too lost we hopped off.

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We made it to Beshiktas but wondered how we would make it back but decided to enjoy some food and tea before worrying about that. At teh restaurant I noticed a flag flying on the street outsideso I asked some university girls at the table beside us what it was . Turns out to be the flag for the Republican People’s Party of Turkey, the CHP.  

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