Ishtar Gate glazed brick panel by boxplayer

Ishtar Gate glazed brick panel

In the Archaeology Museums, specifically the Museum of the Near Orient. Part of the grand processional way to the Ishtar Gate into the inner city of Babylon, built in about 575 BCE by King Nebuchadnezzar II. Mostly lions in the museum here, but I liked this bull creature.

Another restless night. Had the aircon on for a bit but was quite cold and dry, so in the end we turned it off when we went to sleep. Woken up in the early hours by rain and what seemed to be thunder. Checked a real-time lightning website to make sure it wasn't a bomb. Heavy showers continued throughout the day.

After breakfast with 2 quiet Russians that sat next to each other so they could watch the TV tuned to the Russian channel, we walked to Sultanahmet Square in search of a post office. But the promised kiosk was shut. Found a postcard from a stall there and man who sold me it directed me to another man selling stamps - only a 40 cent markup - bargain.

Walked on to Topkapi Palace, following the mobbing crowds. Here there were 2 similar mobbing queues - we both joined one each and though mine moved quicker Dave refused to jump into my queue. Kind of defeated the object of being in both queues.

Once through this security, we had to go through another gate with more security to finally get into the main palace compound.
All very crowded here with tour groups. The pavilions and rooms would suddenly get overrun with rude pushy tour groups who took up a lot of space but were in and out in a flash like locusts.

Though some spectacular sights, was rather grumpy with all the tour groups and we didn't find the place all that well managed. The toilets were horrid: dirty, with no loo roll all day, and soap dispensers all wonkily coming off the wall.

The only restaurant of any note, though it looked nice, was a proper sit down place with waiter service so we didn't want to waste time doing that. Other than that there was the choice between a nice Turkish coffee place that didn't sell food or a disorganised slightly hidden snack bar selling sandwiches.

First visited the clocks and armoury display -both intermittently overrun with tour groups obviously. The armoury was excellent with very ornate Ottoman swords, scimitars, flintlocks, pistols, bows and arrows, helmets and armour, horse armour, maces, axes and all sorts. The clocks, what I could see of them, were interesting too.

Visited the Dormitories of the Tressed Halberdiers and then Into the harem. This was a huge complex just by itself. 100s of rooms, including eunuchs' quarters, bathing suites, lounging areas and lots of beautiful tiling.

Came out and thought about a sit down, but we didn't want to sit down in the waiter-service restaurant and there was a queue for the toilet there. So we wandered back towards the first courtyard via some of the interesting pavilions including 2 turban libraries (where the sultans) stored their turbans in strict order presumably) and a proper book library.

Stopped for a coffee and tea in the cafe and I brought back flatbread from the kiosk opposite where it was marked up with the wrong price wise. We'd lost the will to live by now so decided to leave.

Stopped in Hagia Irene, a beautiful Byzantine space but the dome was irritatingly obscured by netting presumably there to catch pigeon poo. Some paint was visible around the main window. Amusingly, one of Istanbul's umpteen stray cats wandered in.

Moved on to the Archaeological Museums then - 3 of them on the same site. The Near Orient Museum - highlights being the panels from the Ishtar frieze of lions and other animals and the earliest peace treaty. The Tiled Pavilion Museum was full of Turkish ceramics and tiles housed in an old Ottoman building.

Finally on to the main museum - a lot closed here for renovations unfortunately, but the great sarcophagi from the Necropolis of Sidon unearthed in the 19th century were wonderful. After all this culture, grabbed a cake snack in the cafe while waiting for Dave.

Walked back to the Turgut Kebap Restaurant for our last evening meal in Istanbul, sitting outside. Dave had to go and get some warm things from the hotel as it had turned chillier. Lentil soup, hummus, too much bread, vegetarian kebab and shrimp casserole covered in a layer of bread. Free baklava and apple tea. All very yummy.

We were directed politely to their shop across the road and bought some counter-evil eye charms, table runner and cushion covers for my sisters.

Baghdad Pavilion, Topkapi Palace

5 October 2019
Istanbul, Turkey
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