|The Swan Fountain|
Previously, the Sultan and his family had lived at Topkapi Palace, but as Topkapi was lacking in up-to-date luxury and style, Sultan Abdülmecid decided to build the Dolmabahçe Palace. Whereas Topkapi has beautiful Iznik tiles and Ottoman carving, the Dolmabahçe Palace has gold and crystal - an incredible amount!!
Dolmabahçe is very important to Turkish people as Atatürk, the first President of the Republic used it as a residence when in Istanbul and he died here on the 10th November 1938 at 9.05 am (all the clocks in the palace are stopped at this time). It was eventually converted into a palace-museum in 1984.
After a tour of the Harem....
....it was just a short taxi ride to the seaside to Bebek, an upmarket, trendy village on the European Bosphorus shore with lovely cafés and shops along the waterfront. The promenade is perfect for long strolls and the wide bay offers stunning views even on a drizzly March afternoon.
Many Ottoman aristocrats in the 19th century had summer palaces and houses here. The Egyptian Consulate, a magnificent, white Art Nouveau mansion is one of the best remaining historical residences in this area - just stunning and what a location!
It's definitely an upmarket area .....they even have a branch of Ladurée........
A quick stop for a cappuccino in a posh Caffè Nero - this has to be one of the best views from any Caffè Nero table (certainly very different from my local one on the high street back home!)
Next stop was Ortaköy one of Istanbul's chicest neighbourhoods with boutiques, cafés and sophisticated residents and visitors. The House Café was the perfect venue for our evening meal with views of the Bosphorus Bridge.
|mint lemonade and a green tea|
The attention to detail is impressive especially the mini fruit salad which accompanied the green tea! This was the third House Cafe we have visited - the food and drinks are consistently excellent and each House Café has its own distinctive character.
PS Of course no weekend away would be complete without a little bit of shopping and I'm delighted with my new spring purchases -
blush jeans from Mango
I love this shop........all the colours and designs I like to wear, gorgeous accessories, helpful and friendly staff......it seems to have been made for me...