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Published: April 23rd 2008
Chalk it up to ignorance, but we did not know that Istanbul is a city of tulips. For the past three years some three million bulbs have been planted for a special Tulip Festival. We were fortunate enough to be there at their height of blooming. The median strips of the major roads and the parks were simply filled with a huge variety of tulips in full bloom. The tulip comes from this part of the world. Indeed, in the mid 1500's one of the Ottaman Sultans gave a visiting Dutch diplomat some tulip bulbs and that is how they were introduced into Europe. A lady in our tour group was from the Netherlands and said, "We know they came from here, we just do not tell people about that."
After we visited the Hagai Sophia, we stood looking into the grounds of the Topkapi Palace, and a very friendly guard asked us if we knew about the Ottoman Tulip. He showed us the special tulip with that name and told us to go to the gardens and look at them.
We started walking downhill toward the water with the Golden Horn as our destination following the directions the
guard gave us. As we passed the entrance to the park we saw there were tulips blooming inside and that was enough encouragement for us to turn into the park. The beds of tulips were beautiful, and there were so many of them. We walked to the end of the park and then saw up a hill to our right were several small outdoor cafes with tables from which there were wonderful views of the harbor, to our left, and the Bosphorus, ahead of us, and to our right the Marmara Sea. We were tired and after finding a table we ordered cheese toast and Turkish tea. Both were quite good. We then walked very slowly back though the park again taking more pictures along the way and filling our eyes with the beauty of tulip time in Istanbul.
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