Fiscal Responsibility

Sidebar – We spent a good hour in the morning to reschedule our Malta flight because we were set to fly out Nov 4th AM, which is when the US election results would be coming in. Joe needed to make sure he has access to good WiFi in case he needs to make trade adjustments. So we’ll be flying out to Malta on Nov 6th now.

Now on with today’s journey…

There’s a lesson to be learned today, and that is – “Fiscal Responsibility.”

We got to see the Dolmabahçe Palace from afar while on the Bosphorus cruise 3 days ago, and today we got to check out the inside of the palace.

First, some background: The Ottoman sultans had previously inhabited the Topkapı Palace for 375 years. However, in the early 19th century, Oriental designs were felt to be passé. So to keep with the times, the 31st sultan, Abdülmecid I, ordered the construction of the more European styled Dolmabahçe Palace in 1843. By the time construction was completed in 1856, the Empire had financed and spent 35 tonnes of gold (equivalent to over $1.6 billion in today’s dollars). This ultimately led to financial ruins and contributed to the downfall of the empire 70 years later. One has to wonder, had this palace never been built in the first place, would this part of the world look very different today.

Alas, the palace was built, and for the rest of us commoners, we got a chance to witness the opulence.
Entry fee was 90TL ($12) apiece, but they kindly threw in free audio tour for everyone.
Beautiful grounds
The swan fountain
Palace entrance
Photos were not allowed inside, but I couldn’t resist taking a couple
Crystal staircase with French Baccarat crystal banisters and chandelier
Ceremonial hall
Beautiful dome
This is the world’s largest bohemian chandelier weighing in at 4.5 tonnes (a little heavier than an Asian elephant just to give you a little perspective)
In contrast, the sultan’s prayer room is rather humble with an Italian Milano chandelier
Looking towards the Bosphorus strait
Side entrance to the palace looks like the front entrance to a museum
Side gate

By the time we were done with the tour, it was already raining off and on, and our next stop, lunch, was a ways away. It took us about an hour and a half to walk there as we had to take cover during the intermittent heavy downpours.

Security allowed tourists to duck into their station
Waiting it out at a bus stop
Oddly, I enjoyed the rain as it reminded me of monsoon season in Taiwan because the street we were walking on resembled streets of Taipei.

We finally made it to Ben-U Sen for some home cooking.

This is literally their kitchen
Daily menu and prices
Beef with eggplants, pilaf, and sarma, which tastes like split pea soup

The owner was extremely friendly and explained that if poor people or students can’t afford to pay the full meal, then they just pay what they can.

Künefe and çay was on the house
He even sent us home with some free sumac

One thing I have been impressed with in the past week while in Turkey is how friendly and generous the Turks are. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as welcomed by the host citizens as I have in Turkey.

Lunch came out to be 30TL! I couldn’t believe it, but he added it all up for us and it was indeed 30TL. We ended up tipping an additional 10TL, but even with that the meal is still super cheap. He wanted to give us Turkish coffee but we declined as we wanted to head to our next stop to pick up chocolate and chicken breast pudding

The chocolate pudding is amazingly good!
Chicken breast pudding
Including this morning’s börek with potato and meat (28TL) and palace entrance fee, today’s total was $36.

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