Bosphorus Brewing Company

Gabe and Alex. In the foreground is the tablet for ordering. But there wasn't any WiFi (pronounced Wee Fee here) so the server had to still take your order. Turkey!
Gabe and Alex. In the foreground is the tablet for ordering. But there wasn’t any WiFi (pronounced Wee Fee here) so the server had to still take your order. Turkey!

June 28. 2015

Lest you think that a predominately Muslim country shuns alcohol, let me assure you otherwise. The Bosphorus Brewing Company is a bit of a hike from the school, but two handsome gentleman, fellow teachers, accompanied me. It’s a nice pub atmosphere and they had lots of beers available. Alex (who holds both a US and UK passport) discovered the place and served as our guide. Gabe (from the US and married to a lovely and brilliant Turkish woman) is a more experienced teacher here in Istanbul and we all hope he will be the next head teacher in our branch after Robert leaves in October.

I had two wheat beers that went straight to my head. The gentlemen each had something on tap. We shared some tasty snacks: Red Pepper Dip Sauce and Spicy potato chips. It’s a bit pricy on a teacher’s pay, so this is strictly a special occasion joint. But a lovely time was had by all.

The chips were delicious and the beer went down a bit too easy. I don't drink much, so alcohol always goes straight to my head.
The chips were delicious and the beer went down a bit too easy. I don’t drink much, so alcohol always goes straight to my head.
We were early, so the place wasn't busy yet.
We were early, so the place wasn’t busy yet.

.

Day to day in Istanbul

A beggar on the street breast feeds her child. Her sign reads "Aciz" which means helpless.
A beggar on the street breast feeds her child. Her sign reads “Aciz” which means helpless.

6/21/2015
I am typing on my laptop and glad that the battery is charged. When you live in a foreign country, you quickly learn to keep your electronics charged and figure out where candles and flashlights are. We are in a power outage. No idea how long it will last (it was only an hour). These things usually don’t last long, but could last days. I don’t mind not having light, but I quickly miss internet access. I can, at least, check email on my smart phone.

Trudy and I have just returned with several bags of fresh vegetables from the open market. Every community has a market day and in Avcilar (pronounced Av Ja Ler) it is Sunday. The market blocks the street and stretches over a mile, beginning a block and a half from our apartment. Absolutely beautiful produce, but also plants, kitchen items, eggs, cheese, bread, clothes and household things. We quickly decided to split the cost of most vegetables and fruit. Items are sold by the kilo and few stalls will split a kilo.

The view from my third story apartment terrace.
The view from my third story apartment terrace.
From the terrace--and there's no elevator.
From the terrace–and there’s no elevator.

Buying clothes is a trip, since everything is in UK or European sizes—neither of which I understand. I had to do a Google search for my sizes and I keep a piece of paper in my wallet with them written down. In shoes I find I wear a size 40! This does not make me want to buy them. Honestly, I don’t enjoy clothes shopping, even in the best of conditions, so this makes it even worse. But I must replace things. I bought almost no clothing in Vietnam, except for socks, a silk nightgown and a silk robe. Nothing else would have fit me and besides the quality was too poor to consider a purchase. Here I have a better shot at things fitting and being of a quality I would pay for. Oddly enough, my first serious clothing purchase turned out to be bras. In a conservative Muslim country, it’s odd enough to buy lacy bras from a man. Odder still to buy them off table in an open market where the women are simply trying them on over their clothes. I hated it, but did exactly the same. How else can I know if they fit?

I tend to eat what is fresh and in season. Cherries are ripe now, so it is the fruit we eat every day. The peppers are beautiful, so all my dishes contain them. I tend to cook up a large portion of something and eat on it for four or five days at a time. I’ve also become accustomed to the Turkish custom of eating olives and white cheese for breakfast. We buy black olives by the kilo, which costs roughly 8TL (3 dollars, US).

This is a public beach, but a bit rocky for my tastes.
This is a public beach, but a bit rocky for my tastes.
Fishing in the Sea of Marmara. The sea is just a few blocks from my apartment and I walk there a couple times a week.
Fishing in the Sea of Marmara. The sea is just a few blocks from my apartment and I walk there a couple times a week.
Restrooms are marked in the English fashion with WC for water closet. In Turkish it's pronounced Wee Jee. Betting this one is just a hole in the floor....
Restrooms are marked in the English fashion with WC for water closet. In Turkish it’s pronounced Wee Jee. Betting this one is just a hole in the floor….

6/23/2015
Since the start of Ramazan a few days ago, I’ve been awakened at 2am by a drum. At first I thought I had imagined it. I’m a vivid dreamer and also typically able to go right back to sleep when awakened in the middle of the night. (In fact I love to wake up at 4am and tell myself, “Ah! I don’t have to get up yet!”) But last night, Trudy heard it too, so I’m not making it up. On my walk today, I saw a man with a large drum. Wish I spoke enough Turkish to ask him about it. Must remember to ask my students.

But later the mystery was solved. First, Trudy’s friend, Dilek, explained that the drum is to awaken the women at 2a so that they can prepare breakfast. Today a man in a fancy red vest carrying a drum knocked on the door. When I opened it, all I could understand was “para” which is the word for money. I said, “Yok Islam,” which is poor Turkish for “no Islam.” He then got testy and rubbed his fingers together in the universal symbol for money. I just shut the door. This probably won’t win me any awards with the neighborhood, but I have a difficult time paying to be awakened in the middle of the night.

Notice the cat. Stray cats are everywhere and everyone seems to feed them. These are waiting for the fishermen to catch and share.
Notice the cat. Stray cats are everywhere and everyone seems to feed them. These are waiting for the fishermen to catch and share.
Always practicing football.
Always practicing football.
Roses in the park.
Roses in the park.

Today I began a new level 3 class, daytime, Monday-Friday, 10a-2p. It is odd having a class that goes right through lunchtime. I have to bring a snack. But I eat the snack in the privacy of the teacher’s lounge, since so many of my students are fasting. This appears to be a wonderful group of about 14 students. Fortunately, they all seem to be at level, or at least close. I always start classes with a few exercises designed to let me know their vocabulary, and they did well with their first efforts. I had each introduce himself and no one stumbled. Then we reviewed all the verb tenses they should have learned in Levels 1 and 2. Success! I’m very excited with the class. The last week I’ve put in a strong effort to introduce a systematic vocabulary for each level, since this is decidedly lacking. I’ve already come up with dialogues, too, which gives reluctant students an opportunity to speak. It also builds familiarity with actual conversations and we always learn new vocabulary. So this class will be my most organized yet. I spend half of the four hour class in the book, then the other half with materials I’ve developed or found. I laid out a calendar of vocabulary lessons, dialogues, major activities, and even some of the warm-ups. I’m pretty excited about this. This could be my most successful yet. If I keep this up, I might be a pretty good teacher before I leave Turkey!

Not that it is likely to matter to English Time.

Based on recent changes, it’s highly unlikely that I would extend my stay here. Max, our teacher trainer who I’ve learned much from, was relieved of his duties last week. No one will fill his role. Our hourly system went electronic a few weeks ago, though none of us were given any information or training on it. The move went badly. The system simply stopped working late last week. Yesterday we were forwarded an email, ostensibly about work permits. Buried in paragraphs 4-5 was the announcement that we will soon go to a fingerprint system for check in and out of our classes. If we make any mistakes, we will not be paid. Finally, the head teacher position may also disappear. Starting next week, all teachers in Istanbul will be scheduled by a single person. Since there are over a dozen offices, some with35-40 teachers, this sounds like a disaster to me. Robert, my head teacher, has never been paid his “bonus” hours, promised to him and based on the productivity of his office. He’s decidedly unmotivated, as you might imagine. Robert leaves in October and you can see his interest waning with each passing day.

Great students; poor school. Sound familiar?

Cotton candy sellers take a break under cotton candy skies.
Cotton candy sellers take a break under cotton candy skies.

6/28/2015
I often play games to reinforce vocabulary or speaking. Last weekend I played Taboo with my students to review things in a house and jobs. I wrote phrases for them to say to help. “This is a thing in a house.” “This is a job.” “This thing is found in (room). “ This person works in ______.” “You use this to ____.” One student got the word fork and he started off well, and then got confused. Finally, he said, “This is the wife of the spoon.” We all laughed, but got the word right.
The summer here seem to be cooler than Atlanta. It does climb to 90F occasionally, but usually stays in the 80’s. Despite this, body odor, at least in the men, is surprisingly strong. And I’m not talking about the beggars, either. These men are usually young, fashionable men who appear to have clean clothes and styled hair. Their shoes will shine and they may have the latest iPhone 6. But when they stand next to you on the bus, you are almost knocked over by the stench. Wow. I never find stinky women, though.

Planning an excursion west to Bucharest, Romania and Budapest, Hungary for next week. These are two new countries for me and I’m very excited. It’s (mostly) by train. If I’d had 2 more days I’d have gone on the Vienna, but I barely have a week and this vacation has caused an uproar, unfortunately
I scheduled the timing of this week off carefully. I put it on the calendar over a month ago, during a week no one else was off. I chose a time when my existing classes were finished and during Ramazan when I was assured no new classes would begin. When I found that we would be getting a new scheduler, Philip, I immediately emailed him about my time off and didn’t buy a ticket until he had responded that he agreed with it. So imagine my surprise when mid-day yesterday I get an email from Philip about a L1 class beginning the next day. I asked for the time of the class (he hadn’t specified) and asked how we would cover it during my week off. He didn’t reply to me, but it sparked a heated series of emails between Robert (my head teacher) and Philip, which Robert forwarded to me. The level 1 class was given to someone else, Philip had deemed me “stupid” for taking time off and that several teachers (including me) didn’t deserve to teach if we were going to “leave our posts.”

This new experiment in scheduling isn’t going to be fun. And it seems there’s a fingerprint system coming soon. Always something new. Not always good, though.

I mentioned that the trip next week is “mostly” by train. Seems the tracks from Istanbul to the border are being refurbished, so it’s a bus ride. An overnight bus ride, since I leave the Sirceki station at 10pm. Oh dear. This sounds horrible. Bringing earplugs and a scarf to double as a blanket. May consider eyeshades and a pillow–(though with carry-on luggage that could be a problem. I love traveling. It’s getting there that’s the problem.

The view from one of my classrooms--seven stories above the E5. The median is where the MetroBuses run. The structure over the tracks is the Atakoy metro station.
The view from one of my classrooms–seven stories above the E5. The median is where the MetroBuses run. The structure over the tracks is the Atakoy metro station.

I continue to work on my Turkish, but it is mostly just nouns and adjectives. I don’t quite understand verbs yet—and tenses and most pronouns are added as suffixes to the verbs. Wish I could take a class. Still, I looked up at a new sign on the bus this morning and realized I could read enough of it to understand what was meant. Today I bought something in the canteen and noticed the empty cash drawer. “Para yok gun!” (No money today) I’m coming along. I have a Turkish to English dictionary and often just sit and translate words off signs during long metro rides, IF I can get a seat. If not, I listen to books or my Pimsler Turkish.

My level 1 class finishes this weekend. Everyone so far has passed, save one. I SO hope I can teach their level 2 class. The young gentleman who will not pass (though I have no control over whether or not he is moved onto level 2) started off with such promise. But stopped showing up for class and his English seemed to disintegrate. By the final speaking exam he could not understand the questions I asked and simply starting saying all the English words he knew. “What are you going to do this week?” “Ah….sofa….chair….cinema…mother…sister….” Oh dear.
Another issue with speaking questions is that they can be interpreted in more than one way. I have to show a photo of an attractive woman in an office, speaking on a telephone. I ask, “Where is the woman?” One student replied. “Well, she’s right there in the picture, of course!” He got full marks. Another question on the same photo is, “Describe how she may feel.” One 20-something man seemed surprised. “Teacher? Again?” So I repeated the question. He said, “Boobies. Soft!” Then he cupped his hands and flexed his fingers in an unmistakable gesture. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.

And then there is the occasional poet in my class. Sahin always asks several ways to say a phrase. He’s my best student in the Level 2 class that just finished. It turns out he was looking for “the most beautiful way” to say something.
I adore my new Level 3 students that started with me this past week. Feeling guilty that they will have a sub for 3 days.

Bosphorus Cruise!

The Bosphorus Bridge. Below it is the Beylerbeyi Palace. "Bey" is the Turkish word for "man" or "gentleman." The ending "-ler" (or "lar" depending on the word) makes it plural. Not sure if this makes the palace a "gentlemen's gentleman" or what?
The Bosphorus Bridge. Below it is the Beylerbeyi Palace. “Bey” is the Turkish word for “man” or “gentleman.” The ending “-ler” (or “lar” depending on the word) makes it plural. Not sure if this makes the palace a “gentlemen’s gentleman” or what?

Today, I took a cruise from the mouth of the Golden Horn’s Galata Bridge down the Bosphorus. It was just a two hour cruise, so we did not go all the way to the Black Sea. This strait divides the city of Istanbul as well as the continents of Asia and Europe. The water flows from the Sea of Marmara (and the Mediterranean) to the Black Sea. I wish this had been a narrated cruise, but I have a good guidebook, so knew most of what I was seeing.

Leaving port
Leaving port
On top of our cruise boat. The canopy was quickly pulled back and we were in full sun the entire trip.
On top of our cruise boat. The canopy was quickly pulled back and we were in full sun the entire trip.
Leaving port, beside the Galata Bridge.
Leaving port, beside the Galata Bridge.
Going beneath the Galata Bridge. That's the New Mosque on the shore.
Going beneath the Galata Bridge. That’s the New Mosque on the shore.
Even cruise ships stop here.
Even cruise ships stop here.
On the water is the Kabatas pier, where I boarded a ferry yesterday to go to the Prince's Islands. The Mosque is part of the Dolmabahce Palace and you can see the ornate palace clock tower just to the right of the mosque.
On the water is the Kabatas pier, where I boarded a ferry yesterday to go to the Prince’s Islands. The Mosque is part of the Dolmabahce Palace and you can see the ornate palace clock tower just to the right of the mosque.
Dolmabahce Palace is an opulent early 19th century palace with a series or ornate gates along the waterfront, used the the sultan on the royal barge.
Dolmabahce Palace is an opulent early 19th century palace with a series or ornate gates along the waterfront, used the the sultan on the royal barge.
Bosphorus Bridge
Bosphorus Bridge
The Mecidiye Mosque on the European side with the Bosphorus Bridge in the background. Notice the crowd on men with their foreheads touching the ground. This scene is one of 5 times a day that men pray.
The Mecidiye Mosque on the European side with the Bosphorus Bridge in the background. Notice the crowd on men with their foreheads touching the ground. This scene is one of 5 times a day that men pray.
This small island is now a pool and restaurant.
This small island is now a pool and restaurant.
It was a very sunny day, almost too bright for photos, so I'm lucky so many came out well. At the end of June, it is surprisingly cool. Temps this week stayed below 80F, while my old stomping ground of "Hotlanta" is above 90F.
It was a very sunny day, almost too bright for photos, so I’m lucky so many came out well. At the end of June, it is surprisingly cool. Temps this week stayed below 80F, while my old stomping ground of “Hotlanta” is above 90F.
Here is our first good view of the Fortress of Europe rising above and to the left of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.
Here is our first good view of the Fortress of Europe rising above and to the left of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.
Bebek, famous for its marzipan. Oddly, the name means "baby" in Turkish. Most of the current homes are of stone and concrete, but originally, the fashionable summer homes and elegant villas along the Bosphorus were called yalti.
Bebek, famous for its marzipan. Oddly, the name means “baby” in Turkish. Most of the current homes are of stone and concrete, but originally, the fashionable summer homes and elegant villas along the Bosphorus were called yalti and made of wood.
The Egyptian Consulate in Bebek, a suburb of Istanbul. Built in the late 19th century, it is the only remaining monumental architecture in Bebek, once the home of the Ottoman elite. It's still a fashionable address, however.  This building show the influence of Art Nouveau, with wrought iron railings worked into a leaf design.
The Egyptian Consulate in Bebek, a suburb of Istanbul. Built in the late 19th century, it is the only remaining monumental architecture in Bebek, once the home of the Ottoman elite. It’s still a fashionable address, however.
This building shows the influence of Art Nouveau, with wrought iron railings worked into a leaf design.
On the Asian side of the bridge, hidden from view is the Fortress of Asia. It was build 50 years earlier than the one in Europe. It was part of a failed attempt in 1396 by Beyazit I to take Constantinople.
On the Asian side of the bridge, hidden from view is the Fortress of Asia. It was build 50 years earlier than the Fortress of Europe as part of a failed attempt in 1396 by Beyazit I to take Constantinople.
This was our turn around spot--the Fortress of Europe and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge (Mehmet the Conquer).  This is the narrowest part of the Bosphorus and the waters flow fastest here. It was at this point that the Persian emperor Darius and his army crossed the Bosphorus on a pontoon bridge in 512BCE, on their way to fight the Greeks.  We can see only one of the two famous fortresses that face each other across the waters here. The Fortress of Europe was built in just 4 months by Mehmet II (the Conquer) in 1452, as a prelude to his invasion of Constantinople the following year.
This was our turn around spot–the Fortress of Europe and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge (Mehmet the Conquer).
This is the narrowest part of the Bosphorus and the waters flow fastest here. It was at this point that the Persian emperor Darius and his army crossed the Bosphorus on a pontoon bridge in 512BCE, on their way to fight the Greeks.
We can see only one of the two famous fortresses that face each other across the waters here. The Fortress of Europe was built in just 4 months by Mehmet II (the Conquer) in 1452, as a prelude to his invasion of Constantinople the following year. The Fortress of Asia is on the other side.
Just left of center you can see a young boy fishing. The two towers behind are part of a military school.
Just left of center you can see a young boy fishing. The two towers behind are part of a military school.
The Beylerbeyi Palace, beneath the Bosphorus Bridge.  The bridge was the first to be built across the strait. Construction began in 1970. It is the world's ninth longest suspension bridge, with a length of 1,074 m.  The Beylerbeyi Palace was build for Sultan Abdul Aziz in 1861 as a summer residence. Empress Eugenie of France visited (on her way to the opening of the Suez Canal) and had her face slapped by the Sultan's mother for daring to enter the palace on the arm of the Sultan. Other regal visitors include the Duck and Duchess of Windsor.
The Beylerbeyi Palace, beneath the Bosphorus Bridge.
The bridge was the first to be built across the strait. Construction began in 1970. It is the world’s ninth longest suspension bridge, with a length of 1,074 m.
The Beylerbeyi Palace was build for Sultan Abdul Aziz in 1861 as a summer residence. Empress Eugenie of France visited (on her way to the opening of the Suez Canal) and had her face slapped by the Sultan’s mother for daring to enter the palace on the arm of the Sultan. Other regal visitors include the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Close up of one of the Bathing Pavilions of the Beylerbeyi Palace.
Close up of one of the Bathing Pavilions of the Beylerbeyi Palace. There were two: one for men and one for women.
Leander's Tower was built on an islet in the 18th century. It once served as a quarantine center during a cholera outbreak. It's also been a lighthouse, customs port and toll gate. Now it's a restaurant.  The tower is known in Turkish as Maiden's Tower after a princess who was confined here when a prophet foretold that she would die from a snakebite. The snake showed up in a basket of figs and the princess died anyway.  The English name comes from the Greek myth of Leanders, who swam the Hellespont (Dardanelles) to see his lover, Hero.
Leander’s Tower was built on an islet in the 18th century. It once served as a quarantine center during a cholera outbreak. It’s also been a lighthouse, customs port and toll gate. Now it’s a restaurant.
The tower is known in Turkish as Maiden’s Tower after a story about a princess who was confined here when a prophet foretold that she would die from a snakebite. Her father forced her to live here to protect her. The snake showed up in a basket of figs and the princess died anyway.
The English name comes from the Greek myth of Leanders, who swam the Hellespont (Dardanelles) to see his lover, Hero.
The mosque on the left is the New Mosque (Yeni Cami) and the one in the center is the Suleyman Mosque.
The mosque on the left is the New Mosque (Yeni Cami) and the one in the center is the Suleyman Mosque.
On the Asian side, the Galata tower is one of the most recognizable features on the Golden Horn. It is 65 meters tall. It's origins date for the 6th century where it was used to monitor shipping. The Ottoman's turned it into a prison. In the 18yh century, aviation pioneer Hazarfan Ahmet Celebi attached wings to his arms and "flew" from it.
On the Asian side, the Galata tower is one of the most recognizable features on the Golden Horn. It is 65 meters tall. It’s origins date for the 6th century where it was used to monitor shipping. The Ottomans turned it into a prison. In the 18yh century, aviation pioneer Hazarfan Ahmet Celebi attached wings to his arms and “flew” from it.
Back in port again. That's the Suleyman Mosque, with four minarets and easy to spot from the waterfront. It's probably Istanbul's most important mosque, actually a huge complex and charitable organization. Built by Sinan, the most famous Ottoman architect, between 1550-57. It is named in honor of Suleyman the Magnificent and built on the site of the original Ottoman palace where Mehmet the Conquer lived while the Topkapi Palace was under construction.
Back in port again. That’s the Suleyman Mosque, with four minarets and easy to spot from the waterfront. It’s probably Istanbul’s most important mosque, actually a huge complex and charitable organization. Built by Sinan, the most famous Ottoman architect, between 1550-57. It is named in honor of Suleyman the Magnificent and built on the site of the original Ottoman palace where Mehmet the Conquer lived while the Topkapi Palace was under construction.

Dolmabahçe Palace

This is the four story clock tower and the Dolmabahce Mosque in the background. The clock tower was added to Dolmabahçe Palace, It stands in front of the Treasury Gate along the European waterfront of Bosphorus. Designed in Ottoman neo-baroque style, thetower stands on a floor area of 8.5 × 8.5 m (28 × 28 ft) at a height of 27 m (89 ft).
This is the four story clock tower and the Dolmabahce Mosque in the background. The clock tower stands in front of the Treasury Gate along the European waterfront of Bosphorus. Designed in Ottoman neo-baroque style, the tower stands on a floor area of 8.5 × 8.5 m (28 × 28 ft) at a height of 27 m (89 ft).
My day started with a traditional Turkish breakfast (kahvalti): cheese (paynir), salad vegetables, bread(ekmek), egg (yumerta), honey (muz), olives (zeytin) and tea (cay). Yes, I learn all the food words easily.
My day started with a traditional Turkish breakfast (kahvalti): cheese (paynir), salad vegetables, bread(ekmek), egg (yumerta), honey (muz), olives (zeytin) and tea (cay). Yes, I learn all the food words easily.

Today I had a rare day off and decided to visit the Dolmabahçe (DOL MA BA CHAY) Palace, the last Ottoman Palace constructed. It is a mix of styles and frankly too opulent for it’s own good. It reminded me of a “small” man buying a fancy Lamborghini to impress the ladies, and doing so on credit. This isn’t far off the mark, either, since the Ottoman Empire was in decline when this palace was built and much of the money was borrowed.

I've missed clover! It was simply too hot to grow in south Vietnam. But I looked down and saw this 5 leaf clover just inside the Treasury Gate.
I’ve missed clover! It was simply too hot to grow in south Vietnam. But I looked down and saw this 5 leaf clover just inside the Treasury Gate.

I couldn’t take photos inside, so these are all taken outside the buildings. The palace has belonged to the state since 1924 and is now a museum. The cost to tour both the palace and the harem is 40 Turkish Lira (about $18US). The English tour guide for the palace spoke so poorly and with such a thick accent, I have no idea what he said–and I’m typically very good with accents. The guide for the haram was quite good and easy to understand.

If you say the words out loud, they often make sense.
If you say the words out loud, they often make sense.

The most amazing thing for me was the crystal staircase. It stunned visitors from the first. It is made of Baccarat Crystal and brass, with a polished mahogany rail. I was in awe of the numerous crystal chandeliers–every room seemed to have one or more. Just keeping them clean would have taken a small army! The Ceremonial Hall with its domed ceiling has (reportedly) the world’s heaviest chandelier, an estimated 4 tons. All the window treatments were rich and varied. The parquet floors were covered by lavish silk carpets. Even the doorknobs and keyhole covers were ornate, hand painted porcelain. But the mish-mash of styles and over-abundance of gold leaf was too much for me–like someone trying too hard. Lavish, but unlivable.

The Treasury Gate. Dolmabahçe is the largest palace in Turkey. It has an area of 45,000 square meters (11.2 acres), and contains 285 rooms (150 in the haram), 46 halls, 6 baths (hamam) and 68 toilets (most are ornate, marble holes in the floor). The huge expense of building this palace--roughly 35 tons of gold--placed an enormous burden on the state and contributed to the  financial decline of the Ottoman Empire. Eventually, it slid into bankruptcy and was known as the "sick man of Europe" by European powers.
The Treasury Gate. Dolmabahçe is the largest palace in Turkey. It has an area of 45,000 square meters (11.2 acres), and contains 285 rooms (150 in the haram), 46 halls, 6 baths (hamam) and 68 toilets (most are ornate, marble holes in the floor).
The huge expense of building this palace–roughly 35 tons of gold–placed an enormous burden on the state and contributed to the financial decline of the Ottoman Empire. Eventually, it slid into bankruptcy and was known as the “sick man of Europe.”
View of the palace from the waterfront. The site of Dolmabahçe was originally a bay on the Bosphorus strait, used for the Ottoman fleet. The area was reclaimed gradually during the 18th century to become an imperial garden, much appreciated by the Ottoman sultans. This is where the name comes from. Dolmabahçe (Filled-in Garden) comes from the Turkish dolma meaning "filled" and bahçe meaning "garden." Various small summer palaces and wooden pavilions were built here during the 18th and 19th centuries ultimately forming a palace complex.
View of the palace from the waterfront. The site of Dolmabahçe was originally a bay on the Bosphorus strait, used for the Ottoman fleet. The area was reclaimed gradually during the 18th century to become an imperial garden, much adored by the Ottoman sultans. This is where the name comes from: Dolmabahçe (Filled-in Garden) comes from the Turkish dolma meaning “filled” and bahçe meaning “garden.” Various small summer palaces and wooden pavilions were built here during the 18th and 19th centuries ultimately forming a palace complex.
The Dolmabahçe Mosque was commissioned by queen mother Bezmi Alem Valide Sultan. After she died, Sultan Abdülmecid, her son, continued to support the construction of the mosque, which was completed in 1855
The Dolmabahçe Mosque was commissioned by queen mother Bezmi Alem Valide Sultan. After she died, Sultan Abdülmecid, her son, continued to support the construction of the mosque, which was completed in 1855.
Dolmabahçe Palace was ordered by the Empire's 31st Sultan, Abdülmecid I, and built between the years 1843 and 1856. Previously, the Sultan and family had lived at the Topkapı Palace (which I will see later since it is also a museum), but  the medieval Topkapı lacked contemporary style, luxury, and comfort. The sultan wanted something to compare with the palaces of the European monarchs, Abdülmecid built a new modern palace, using mostly borrowed funds from foreign interests and a devaluing the currency by issuing lots of paper money.
Dolmabahçe Palace was built by the Empire’s 31st Sultan, Abdülmecid I, between 1843 and 1856. Previously, the Sultan and family had lived at the Topkapı Palace (which I will see later). The medieval Topkapı lacked contemporary style, luxury and comfort. The sultan wanted something to compare with the palaces of European monarchs. Abdülmecid built a modern palace, using mostly borrowed funds from foreign interests and by a devaluing the currency by issuing lots of paper money.

Dolmabahche Palace, Istanbul, March 2015, 13

One of the entrance gates. Dolmabahçe Palace was home to six Sultans from 1856  until the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924, The last royal to live here was Caliph Abdülmecid Efendi, who was banish from Turkey along with his family in 1924.  Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey, used the palace as a presidential residence during the summers. He enacted some of his most important legislation here. Atatürk spent the last days here as well, dying in one of the bedrooms  on November 10, 1938 at 9:05. all of the clocks in the palace are stopped at this time in his honor.
The Sultan’s entrance gate. Dolmabahçe Palace was home to six Sultans from 1856 until the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924, The last royal to live here was Caliph Abdülmecid Efendi, who was banish from Turkey along with his family.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey, used the palace as a presidential residence during the summer. He enacted some of his most important legislation here. Atatürk spent his last days here as well, dying in one of the bedrooms on November 10, 1938 at 9:05a. All of the clocks in the palace are stopped at this time in his honor.
Tomb of Hoca Ahmet Turani. I could find nothing about him on the web and I can't read Turkish. Yet. But this grave is in the garden area of the palace.
Tomb of Hoca Ahmet Turani. I could find nothing about him on the web and I can’t read Turkish. Yet. But this grave is in the garden area of the palace.

The following are NOT my photos. All are licensed by Wikimedia Commons. I use them since I could not take photos and I want you to see some the inside palace.

Façade of the Selamlik--the entrance of the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul. by OscarKosy
Façade of the Selamlik–the entrance of the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul.  The gardens will be beautiful in about a month. You could already see tulips and other bulbs pushing their way out of the ground. This photo must have been taken in Spring or early summer. Photo by OscarKosy.
The chandelier gifted by Queen Victoria, and may be the heaviest in the world. The domed ceiling alone with worth the visit.  Ceremonial hall,  Dolmabahce March 2008 pano4" by Gryffindor
The chandelier, gifted by Queen Victoria, may be the heaviest in the world. The domed ceiling alone with worth the visit.
Ceremonial hall, Dolmabahce March 2008 pano4″ by Gryffindor
Baccarat crystal balusters of the Crystal Staircase "Dolmabahce Baccarat bannister" by Peace01234
Baccarat crystal balusters of the Crystal Staircase
“Dolmabahce Baccarat bannister” by Peace01234
Ambassador's Hall (Süfera Salonu) with two bearskin rugs--the bears looked like they needed dusting. The standing chandeliers were beautiful.  "Ambassador Hall Dolmabahce March 2008panoc" by Gryffindor
Ambassador’s Hall (Süfera Salonu) with two bearskin rugs–the bears looked like they needed dusting. The standing chandeliers were beautiful.
“Ambassador Hall Dolmabahce March 2008panoc” by Gryffindor
Blue Hall "Dolmabahce Palace ced" by Mircea Ostoia - originally posted to Flickr
Blue Hall
“Dolmabahce Palace ced” by Mircea Ostoia – originally posted to Flickr
The Pink Hall "Dolmabahce Palacasdfe" by Mircea Ostoia - originally posted to Flickr
The Pink Hall
“Dolmabahce Palacasdfe” by Mircea Ostoia – originally posted to Flickr
The bed Ataturk died in.  "Ataturk deathbed Dolmabahce March 2008" by Gryffindor
The bed Ataturk died in.
“Ataturk deathbed Dolmabahce March 2008” by Gryffindor

Hippodrome of Constantinople

Current day Sultan Ahmet Square--the former "spine" of the Roman Hippodrome.
Current day Sultan Ahmet Square–the former “spine” of the Roman Hippodrome.

Only part of the spine (spina) of the old Roman Hippodrome remains in Istanbul. It was in disrepair when the Ottoman Turks invaded the city in 1452, and allowed to fall into ruins after,  though there are a few painting showing the Ottomans using the structure. The Hippodrome was the “circus,” a gigantic stadium for chariot racing and other sporting events. It was also the center of society in Constantinople. Originally laid out by Roman Emperor Septimus Severus, in the 3rd century, it was enlarged by Constantine to hold 100,000 people.

What remains is now called the Sultanahmet Meydanı (Sultan Ahmet Square) and is a park. In fact, much of the hippodrome was destroyed, along with the palaces of some Ottoman dignitaries, in the 17th century to build the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, better known to tourist as The Blue Mosque. The road ringing this elongated park follows the path the chariots took during a race.

My guidebook add: “Conspicuous by its absence is the column which once stood on the spot where the tourist information office is now located. This was topped by four bronze horses which were pillaged during the Fourth Crusades…and taken to St. Mark’s in Venice.”  I managed to see these when I was in Venice!

Below are some of the treasures located on the square. Most were moved here (i.e stolen) from other locations.

From Wikipedia: The German Fountain ("The Kaiser Wilhelm Fountain"), an octagonal domed fountain in neo-Byzantine style, which was constructed by the German government in 1900 to mark the German Emperor Wilhelm II's visit to Istanbul in 1898, is located at the northern entrance to the Hippodrome area, right in front of the Blue Mosque.
Here’s a piece that wasn’t stolen, but build here. From Wikipedia: The German Fountain (“The Kaiser Wilhelm Fountain”), an octagonal domed fountain in neo-Byzantine style, which was constructed by the German government in 1900 to mark the German Emperor Wilhelm II’s visit to Istanbul in 1898, is located at the northern entrance to the Hippodrome area, right in front of the Blue Mosque.
Mosaics for the dome of the fountain.
Mosaics under the dome of the fountain. I saw a few guys drinking from the fountain, but it is really for washing before prayers. Besides, all the guidebooks say don’t drink the water here. I’ve stuck with bottled water, so far.

Hippodrome, Istanbul, Mar 5, 2015, 3

Obelisk of Theodosius is part of an Egyptian obelisk. From Wikipedia: Another emperor to adorn the Hippodrome was Theodosius the Great, who in 390[5] brought an obelisk from Egypt and erected it inside the racing track. Carved from pink granite, it was originally erected at the Temple of Karnak in Luxor during the reign of Thutmose III in about 1490 BC. Theodosius had the obelisk cut into three pieces and brought to Constantinople. The top section survives, and it stands today where Theodosius placed it, on a marble pedestal. The obelisk has survived nearly 3,500 years in astonishingly good condition.
Obelisk of Theodosius is part of a much larger Egyptian obelisk. From Wikipedia: Another emperor to adorn the Hippodrome was Theodosius the Great, who in 390 brought an obelisk from Egypt and erected it inside the racing track. Carved from pink granite, it was originally erected at the Temple of Karnak in Luxor during the reign of Thutmose III in about 1490 BC. Theodosius had the obelisk cut into three pieces and brought to Constantinople. The top section survives, and it stands today where Theodosius placed it, on a marble pedestal. The obelisk has survived nearly 3,500 years in astonishingly good condition.
Hippodrome, Istanbul, Mar 5, 2015, 9

The base of the Egyptian Obelisk shows Emperor Theodosius as he offers a laurel wreath to the winner of the games in the Hippodrome.
The base of the Egyptian Obelisk shows Emperor Theodosius as he offers a laurel wreath to the winner of the games in the Hippodrome. The bases of these old monuments were covered with dirt as the ground level rose over the years. All of them now sit in pits, dug out so you can see the base.
Hippodrome, Istanbul, Mar 5, 2015, 12
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There isn't much of the Serpent column left. From Wikipedia: To raise the image of his new capital, Constantine and his successors, especially Theodosius the Great, brought works of art from all over the empire to adorn it. The monuments were set up in the middle of the Hippodrome, the spina. Among these was the Tripod of Plataea, now known as the Serpent Column, cast to celebrate the victory of the Greeks over the Persians during the Persian Wars in the 5th century BC. Constantine ordered the Tripod to be moved from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and set in middle of the Hippodrome. The top was adorned with a golden bowl supported by three serpent heads. The bowl was destroyed or stolen during the Fourth Crusade. The serpent heads were destroyed as late as the end of the 17th Century, as many Ottoman miniatures show they were intact in the early centuries following the Turkish conquest of the city.[4] Parts of the heads were recovered and are displayed at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. All that remains of the Delphi Tripod today is the base, known as the "Serpentine Column".
There isn’t much of the Serpent Column left. You can see The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque) in the background. From Wikipedia: To raise the image of his new capital, Constantine and his successors, especially Theodosius the Great, brought works of art from all over the empire to adorn it. The monuments were set up in the middle of the Hippodrome, the spina. Among these was the Tripod of Plataea, now known as the Serpent Column, cast to celebrate the victory of the Greeks over the Persians during the Persian Wars in the 5th century BC. Constantine ordered the Tripod to be moved from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and set in middle of the Hippodrome. The top was adorned with a golden bowl supported by three serpent heads. The bowl was destroyed or stolen during the Fourth Crusade. The serpent heads were destroyed as late as the end of the 17th Century, as many Ottoman miniatures show they were intact in the early centuries following the Turkish conquest of the city. Parts of the heads were recovered and are displayed at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. All that remains of the Delphi Tripod today is the base, known as the “Serpentine Column”.
The Archaeology museum is located nearby. I plan to visit very soon!

Hippodrome, Istanbul, Mar 5, 2015, 14

 

The walled column. From Wikipedia: In the 10th century the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus built another obelisk at the other end of the Hippodrome. It was originally covered with gilded bronze plaques, but they were sacked by Latin troops in the Fourth Crusade. The stone core of this monument also survives, known as the Walled Obelisk.
The Walled Column/Obelisk. From Wikipedia: In the 10th century the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus built another obelisk at the other end of the Hippodrome. It was originally covered with gilded bronze plaques, but they were sacked by Latin troops in the Fourth Crusade. The stone core of this monument also survives, known as the Walled Obelisk.

 

There's lots of new (to me) wildlife. Not sure what this bird is called, but he was large, about the size of a large raven.
There’s lots of new (to me) wildlife. Not sure what this bird is called, but he was big, about the size of a large raven.
Lots of street vendors. This one is selling roasted chestnuts and corn for 2Turkish Lira--a bit less than 1US dollar.
Lots of street vendors. This one is selling roasted chestnuts (stacked on the left) and ears of roasted corn for 2 Turkish Lira–a bit less than 1US dollar.