Topkapi Palace

We're going on the southbound trip beginning on September 9th and have an extra day in Istanbul on the 8th. We're trying to decide how to spend our time that day. Did you feel you had adequate time in the Palace or would you recommend us visiting it before the tour? What about the Grand Bazaar? Thanks in advance for your help? Alice

Comments

  • Of course it depends on your tastes and interests, but we felt that the time at Topkapi and the Bazaar was adequate. We were there several years ago and visited the Dolmabahce Palace on our pre-tour day. The palace and grounds were gorgeous and I highly recommend it. Lines can be long though so you might want to get there early.
  • It's a while since I visited Topkapi Palace, but what I remember best are the emeralds. The size of bricks. Truly! Seeing is believing.
  • When we took this trip we thought Tauck did a complete tour of the Topkapi Palace. I would agree that visiting the Dolmabahce Palace is worthwhile. In fact, I recall that Tauck recommended it in our final papers. It is a downhill walk from your hotel. We thought the tour was very good but the harem section was not as impressive. You do have enough time at the Grand Bazaar. Actually, we loved the Spice Bazaar as it was so colorful and vibrant. However, Tauck gives you plenty of time in both places while on tour.
    If you are an adventurous traveler, I have a suggestion. We traveled to Buyukada, one of the Princes' Islands, in the Marmara Sea off the Asian shore. We got on a ferry (we walked to the river from the hotel) and traveled to this island, about 12 miles away. We got info from the concierge at the hotel (although he gave us incorrect times) about where and when to catch the ferry. The ferry holds about 2,000 people and makes a number of stops , with Buyukada being the final stop. The ride itself is so much fun with vendors selling things on board and a great mixture of travelers. We met a restaurant owner on the dock, and during the trip he brought us some tea (in those lovely little tulip glasses) and the ladies sitting across from us who were going on a picnic with their children, shared some cookies with us...we didn't speak Turkish, they didn't speak English, but somehow we communicated! When we got there we took a phaeton ride (horse drawn carriages) around the island. The island is car free, and the only transportation is bike, phaeton or shoe leather express. We rode around the island enjoying the stunning views (the ride was so much fun), and then had lunch at the restaurant of the man we had met. You can climb up to a church, but it was cool and windy that day and we opted out. As a side note to how wonderful the Turkish people are...when we finished our ride, our driver said the fee was 45 lira...Stupidly, I got it confused with a Disneyland ride and handed him 90 lira, figuring it was per person...he protested quite vehemently and returned 45 (the total price, not per person...duh on my part). Needless to say, he earned a nice tip!!
    A note about cabs in Istanbul. Be aware of your surroundings. There are some cab drivers (as anywhere in the world) who will take you on a bit of a wild goose chase ride to run up the tab. Settle the price when you get INTO the cab, not when you get out. We never had any problem (but some in our group did). In fact, one of our cab drivers literally left his cab to direct us, on foot, into the correct area when we went to Ortakoy area one evening. If you want some restaurant recommendations, I could tell you where we went, but that was a few years ago, and you will have to do some research to see if they are still as good as I recall.
    This is a very special trip and remains one of our favorites!
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