Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How to bankrupt an empire

This palace almost bankrupted the Ottoman sultans when it was built in 1853 and when you go there you can see why. Dolmabahce Palace was truly amazing. The scale of the palace was incredible and impossible to capture in photographs...well at least in my photographs.

Instead I tried to capture more of the detail. This was also hard as the palace was quite dark and you were ushered through the 110,000 square metres quickly. This photo to the right is a sink!

The fabrics were rich and sumptuous with beautifully detailed floral patterns. You could easily spend hours here.

The grounds are gorgeous, with well maintained gardens full of huge old magnolia trees in bloom, all right next to the Bosphorus waterfront.

The photo to the right is not the palace - it's just one of the gates! And below that is the head maid's room.

The real highlight though was the drive there! Well maybe not highlight, maybe excitement is a better description, or even better 'the drive that scared the pants off me!'

I was happily driving along, secretly impressed with my progress in driving in the crowded Istanbul streets. We took a few turns into the back streets to try to find a car park. Sure, I can handle this, I thought. The roads were a little steep, but fine, so we continued along. Until some how we ended up in the steepest, narrowest cobbled streets I have seriously ever seen. I truly thought the car was not going to make it up! My stomach was jumping, it was about a 70 degree incline! The car's engine was about to cut out, and half way up the 'cliff face' was a street going off to the right. Should I turn or continue up? No time for do I get out of here?!!!

We decided to turn and just as we started to go down another very steep little street we spied a guy hanging out of a window so stopped (with difficulty - the handbrake wouldn't hold) and asked him. He motioned that we should back up and continue on the other steep street. Aghhhh!

With a lot of difficulty and encouragement from the passengers, I attempted a reverse handbrake start (with the handbrake not holding!) and along came another car in front, flashing and beeping their horn. Give me a break!

With a lot of burnt rubber, a worn clutch and plenty of cheers from the others in the car I made it back onto the other road. Then we got some sweet revenge - the tooting car couldn't even make it up the hill! We all laughed (mostly from relief) and little Yashar even had a chuckle.

I was pretty much ready to fall over and be carried to hospital after that! Mum, I hope you are not reading this! But if you are, we are fine.

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