It was a good day in Istanbul. I took out the city map and circled a bunch of sights I wanted to see that I didn't get to see the first time I was here. I tried to make a plan of attack, as I knew I wouldn't be able to do it all in one day. I'll be here until my flight leaves on December 7, so I should have enough time to see quite a bit.
The first place I went to today is the Basilica Cistern. It's an underground chamber built by the Romans to collect water. It's a tranquil place that still collects and contains water. A walkway is built through it and drops can be heard falling down from the ceiling. The highlight of this chamber are two columns that have Medusa's head as the base. One of the heads is turned on its side and the other upside down. Archeologists haven't been able to figure out the reason behind this. Medusa heads were often put on structures to ward off evil.
My second stop, which took up most of my day, was the Topkapi Palace. It was closed when I was here the last time. I didn't realize that it would take up so much of my time, it's a pretty big place. There's a ton of chambers and to see and most of them are set up in a museum style, showing off the many of the sultan's artifacts and the Ottoman empire's spoils of war.
Part of the palace includes the harem chambers. These are pretty exquisite. Incredible decorations on the walls, baths in every chamber, fireplaces, couches, etc. The harem was used not only by the sultan's concubines but also by the sultan mother and the eunuchs. Its chambers were by far the most decorated of the palace and a separate admission was required to go inside.
By the time I was done with the palace, I had just enough time to get something to eat and visit the Grand Bazaar to get some ideas for gifts. If anyone would like anything from Turkey, let me know in the comments below.