My husband and I went to Dolmabahce Palace with expectant hearts, deciding we will spend our last afternoon in Istanbul to look at some lovely architecture soaked rich in history. What a disappointing trip it turned out to be! Apart from the impressive exterior and spacious gardens, the entire experience was marred by the fact we had to be guided in groups to see the interior of the palace. "Guided" is an overstatement as most of the times, I felt like we were just herded like sheep in a crowded production factory. The guide spoke with a dispassionate voice, his annoyance with the group evident on his face. He truly looked like he needed to change his job! The group was way too large for him to manage and his information was only available to those who were at the very front. Many parts of the palace had small corridors to see certain rooms, so a large part of the tour consisted of waiting patiently for our turns to take a quick peek at the rooms and hurrying to try catch up with the guide who had walked on ahead. After a few cycles of this, the whole tour started to feel meaningless because we didn't get to hear any information, even the rooms started to look the same. Interests soon waned among many visitors within the group, people started talking among themselves, not bothering to look at individual rooms. We started feeling like we were stuck in a human jam - unable to accelerate or turn back or end the tour. After the tour ended in the main section, we deliberated if we should proceed to the harem section. "Maybe it will be better," we thought. It wasn't. It was the same procedure of jam-packed into a procession, except this time it was worse. The group was larger and it was clear they were trying to squeeze in as many visitors as they could. At the end of the tour, we walked past the guide - this time, a man who seemed more cheerful, informed and liked his job better. I wouldn't know though, I wasn't close enough to hear a single bit of information from him. Regrettably, I wished I had spent my last afternoon in Istanbul a little better.
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