The Depreciating Lira

As Americans we have largely benefited from decades of a robust currency, and as a result, we can make our dollar stretch when traveling to most countries. Due to poor economic growth, policies, and large foreign currency debt, Turkey is now one of those countries where Americans can really make their dollars go farther. The current exchanges rate of USD to TL is about 1 to 7.6 (10 years ago, the rate was 1 to 1.5). Good for us, but really bad for locals. One of the things we’ve noticed is that the price of things have gone up. For example, the Rick Steves guide book published prior to 2016 quoted a 30 TL Topkapi Palace entrance fee, and a 15TL Harem entrance fee. When we got to the ticket booth, we were surprised to see that the fees have gone up to 100TL and 70 TL respectively. However, if you take the exchange rate into account, the ticket prices have actually dropped! Deflation for us, but inflation for the locals.

One other thing that is hurting the Turkish economy is the drop in tourism due to COVID.

This was the ticketing line for the Topkapi Palace.

Again, good for us but bad for them. Touring Istanbul is a breeze right now. No lines, no crowds. You’re in and out, and on to the next sight.

However, we did take our time touring the palace because it is interesting to envision what life was like living as a Sultan. We spent an hour in just the kitchen complex alone. The main reason for that is because of the large collection of porcelain pieces from China.

The palace has around 10,000 Chinaware
And they are worth millions
Some had jewel embellishments added by the Ottoman Empire
Celadon purportedly turned color when exposed to poison
Unlike the collections in Britain and France, China in the Ottoman Empire was not plundered from China. These were traded or gifted.
A beautiful sherbet dispenser
Looks like something the mother-in-law may have in her curio cabinet
Double Happiness

Those are all the photos I took of the palace collection, because I later realized photography wasn’t allowed. Oops!

Things that we could photograph were structures, and my favorite were the different ornate domed ceilings inside various pavilions and halls.

The library ceiling (my favorite)
Amazingly intricate patterns
Simpler designs
And something in between
One more
An opulent bath tub for the sultan

We took our time, and 3 hours later, we were ready for lunch.

One of the authentic Turkish joints in the touristy part of town
A meal with soup for two was 77TL ($10)
Lamb and beef with couscous rice
So yummy!

The best part about eating in a city, is that we can walk off our meal. Unlike in CA, it’s restaurant to car, car to home.

Found our way to the Süleymaniye Mosque
And this is the beautiful ceiling

No dinner for us today because lunch was rather filling. So today’s total expense was $54, thanks to the ‘hefty’ palace entry tickets. But we enjoyed it immensely.

2 thoughts on “The Depreciating Lira

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