Sunday, July 19, 2015

Eurotrip 2015 - Day 4 (6/30/2015) - Palace, Boat, Bus, and Dervishes

This day started early, as we had a full day tour booked through Istanbul Bosphorus Organizations (IBO) - the Dolmabahçe Palace with Bus and Boat tour.  I woke up feeling a bit bloated, but didn't think too much of it at the time - I simply limited my breakfast to some fruit.  After breakfast we waited in the hotel lobby for the tour people to pick us up, which they did shortly after 8:30.  They drove us to pick up some other tour guests, and then to the Kabataş ferry docks, where the early boat tour (not ours) was to begin.  We waited there for the others on our tour to arrive, and then walked to the nearby Dolmabahçe Palace.  The tour started a little after the scheduled 9:30 time.

Dolmabahçe Palace is a lot nicer than Topkapı Palace, but it's also a lot newer and of a different style (Baroque).  Unfortunately, pictures are not allowed inside the palace, but that's understandable - it would probably cause massive delays as masses of people walk through.  After touring the palace we hopped on a bus that drove us down to Eminönü, where we boarded our boat.  We then sailed under the Galata Bridge and out to the Bosphoros Strait.  We sailed up the Bosphorus (staying on the left side), past Dolmabahçe Palace, under the Bosphorus Bridge, past Rumeli Fortress, and then turned around right before the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.  We stopped at Küçüksu Palace for a brief tour, and by this time it was apparent that my insides were starting to disagree with me.  I helped myself to a water closet (aka bathroom) while the others began the palace tour and did a dirty deed for which I am both sorry and grateful.  Afterward, I quickly caught up to the group as they finished the tour and then boarded the boat by the 1:15 deadline.

The boat continued back down the Bosphorus and then cut across right before the Maidens Tower back into the Golden Horn.  We crossed back under Galata Bridge and docked where we had departed.  The next leg of the tour was the bus portion, and and this proved to be a disappointment in comparison to the palace and the boat.  We drove up to Pierre Loti Hill, where we stopped at a cafe for lunch.  Unfortunately for the cafe, my gastrointestinal issues were continuing and I had to defile their bathroom as well.  I ordered a Caesar salad for lunch (which the description did not indicate was topped with a sliced chicken breast, but I gave that away to Tina), and was able to get through most of it.  The cafe did provide a nice view of the Golden Horn down the hill, though I wish we had taken better advantage of the view at a different spot.

After lunch the tour group took a cable car down to the bottom of the hill.  This was alright, but the cable car was pretty small and cramped, and the scratched glass was less than ideal for taking pictures while on board.  We then boarded a bus that took us down and around the southern edge of the peninsula - though no expected great views of the city walls materialized.  The bus then cut into Sultanahmet and the tour ended with them dropping us off close to the Blue Mosque a little after 4:30.  Overall, I thought the tour was worthwhile, even though the bus part was not as good as the palace and the boat.

After being dropped off, we walked back to the hotel, where I quickly ran to my bathroom and repeated the deeds from earlier in the day.  By this time, the discharge was becoming watery and I was not feeling too well.  A half hour of laying on the bed and slightly dozing off allowed me to recharge my batteries, and I decided to proceed with the plan of seeing the Istanbul Dervishes at the Hodjapasha Dance Theater.  Due to a credit card processing error while ordering Stateside, we had been told by the theater people to pay for and pick up our tickets (which were on hold) by 6 PM.  We walked to the venue and arrived there shortly before the designated time.  Joe still got the same credit card error when he tried to pay (he and Tina had received the same error at the restaurant the evening before, and had called the bank about it later that night), so I used my card to pay for the tickets.  After that we walked to a nearby cafe so Joe and Tina could share a small dinner - I was not up for eating, so I just had some juice to drink.

We walked back to the theater around 6:40 and got in line for the pre-show refreshments.  The show began a bit after the scheduled 7 PM start and consisted of two parts: first a 4-man traditional "orchestra" for about 15 minutes; then a 7-part Mevlevi Sema ceremony featuring the whirling dervishes for about 45 minutes.  By the time the whirling started I was not feeling too good.  Watching them whirl around certainly didn't help, so I kept my eyes closed most of the time.  On another day, I may have enjoyed the show more, but my upset stomach put quite a damper on things.  I wouldn't say that it was necessarily my type of entertainment, but it was at least an interesting experience, and the dervishes are (or would be) impressive to watch twirl for they amount of time that they did.

After the show we walked back to the hotel, with me leaving Tina and Joe behind toward the end.  By this time I had gone into diarrhea mode, and the stomach pain was becoming constant.  Needless to say, I went to bed as soon as I could get off the toilet.


An album of all my favorite photos from the trip can be found here:
Google Photos (no photo spheres)
Google+ Photos (includes photo sphere functionality)

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