Yes, I know, the signs clearly said “No photos.” But this bejeweled dagger was one of the very first items that had fired my interest in Istanbul more than 40 years earlier. In Jules Dassin’s film, Topkapi (which provided the inspiration for both the TV and film versions of Mission Impossible), a bunch of clever thieves (and a few bumblers) plot the perfect heist, stealing this very dagger from a locked display case within the heavily guarded palace museum (whose floor is wired to sense intruders.) One of the first films to have a character (played by Melina Mercouri, aka Mrs. Dassin) speak conspiratorily to camera, it shows off the City of the World’s Desire and its environs beautifully -- from the Bosphorus mansion where the gang preps, to the mosque-filled view afforded from tiled rooftops high above the city, to the famed oiled wrestlers out west near Edirne. Even as a teenager, I knew I had to visit this palace someday. And I did, remembering the catchy Manos Hadjidakis film score as I entered. Hey, two amenable guards had posed for our cameras in the famed royal kitchens earlier that morning, so I decided I could risk snapping a shot of this pricey curio. Fortunately I wasn’t apprehended and thrown into a Turkish jail. I’d seen Midnight Express, too..