Dolmabahçe Sarayı

Palace Facade

Rightful indignation would be the recurring theme of the day; all an indication that we've raised our three girls well. Today we toured the Dolmabahçe Sarayı, which was the home of the Sultan of Ottoman Empire (and later the first President of Turkey). Unfortunately, no photographs were allowed within the palace itself and I'm left hoping that our memories will suffice. Palatial, as a word, fails to describe well what we saw. Just to put some sizes into words: the main ceremonial ballroom was 2000 square meters, with a 36 meter ceiling height and a chandelier with ten thousand pieces of English crystal and 660 bulbs (which did not look oversized for the room)... this room was used only twice per year.

This all sounds swell until you take three (or four) young ladies through tours that highlight the profoundly different treatment of men and women. The palace was amazing and it was very interesting to see a well-preserved, honest specimen of living quarters before plumbing and electricity. It was spelled out clearly where women were allowed to go and where they were not. While the living quarters were beautiful, my trio were repeatedly aghast at the patriarchal dynamic. Each sultan had four wives "on the books," but no one (of the guides) really knew how many they actually had as they tended to cycle older ones out for younger ones. As I understood it, the last sultan begat thirty eight children. Every time the guides brought these details to light, it was like ringing the bell of injustice anew. To make the schooling complete, I reminded them of the vicissitude of equality and the many forces in the world today that wish societies to return to such an order.

The sultan and caliph were both exiled from Turkey just after World War I. Istanbul is quite proud to have moved on and the people here preserve and teach the history well.

A Bit of Curated Nature


There was quite a bit of undeniable beauty as nature always seems to deliver so well. The grounds of the palace sit on an absolutely stunning span of the Bosphorus (as if it were chosen by the Sultan himself). Epic buildings and beautiful fountains offset with simple and elegant flower gardens. I had never seen roses grafted before; apparently grafting roses is totally a thing and punctuates well my completely ignorant appreciation for gardens.

Double daylily

This discovery led to a nice conversation on botany, grafting and everything wonderful we have today due to mad meddling of humans messing with the genetics of other organisms (dogs, flowers, apples, etc.). I will have succeeded if my kids grow up to enjoy as many GMOs as I have in my life. While the roses were beautiful, two daughters found the double daylilies to be much more satisfying. There were many more of them and they were certainly in a less hydrated state than the roses, but there is something about orange in nature that is just charming; orange with the vibrant blue of the Bosphorus as a backdrop even more so.

We spent quite a while sitting outside within the grounds enjoying both beautiful scenery and perfect weather. Today was 82F, relatively low humidity and not a cloud in the sky leading to a completely unforeseeable outcome: I am more tan than Lisa... it is surely temporary.

Building and Satisfying an Appetite

After returning to the hotel, I was ecstatic to find that, as a group, we were interested in going to the gym to work out. Lisa and I have bad habits at home and the trip thus far has delivered us from the evils of lethargy. We're all doing a workout challenge for the month and no one is backing down! The goal is air squats, sit-ups and pushups each day with a target of 100 each at the end of the month. Just enough to work up an appetite and I can say that döner is a hit with the family.

My day ended well with a reasonably-sized plate of iskender and a relaxing lounge on a terrace sofa with my wife and a cappuccino-flavored hookah. She's still my one!


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