Tuesday, January 25

Istanbul - Bosporus Cruise and the New District

Fishermen on the Galata Bridge that connects Historic Istanbul to New Istanbul.

Our second day in Istanbul was bright and sunny with rain promised for the other two days of our stay. We took advantage of the weather by taking a boat ride up the Bosporus Strait to catch a glimpse of the Black Sea and to set foot in Asia.

Using our Rick Steves guide book, we kept ourselves entertained as we passed large mosques, palaces, Eur-Asian bridges, mansions, fishing vessels of all sizes, military academies, ancient fortresses and the like. And many Turkish flags flapping in the breeze.

Dolmabahce Palace built in 1700s to keep up with the Jones' - Paris's Versaille.

Fortress looks amazing on this left bank as you approach the second bridge.
It was key to the impending sacking of Christian Constantinople by the Muslim Turks.

You can barely see the workers on the left in their green overalls.

Ryan was eager to try the RS recommended local yogurt pedaled at one of the docks and he loved it. It was a strong, thick yogurt with a healthy tablespoon of powdered sugar. He liked it so much he had another on the return trip. There were many around us watching in wonder and I looked back because it's always fun to see what sorts of tour books people from all over carry.

Jason the Argonaut's crashing rocks.
The currents are still so strong that these shallow rocks in the middle of the strait
warrant an official warning presence. Also a nice view of the opposing European and Asian coasts.

It took us 1.5 hours to get to the end at Anadolu Kavagi where we immediately stretched our legs on the 20 minute hike up to the old fortress to get some great views of the Black Sea.

There were interesting makeshift “parks” and paths up to the fortress as locals have begun to vie for the tourist traffic. The town lies in wait for the boat and then everything kicks into high gear. There's a small Turkish naval observation base there so we had to aware of their signage. We walked past the housing barracks where some young boys were out on their playground goofing off together. As we walked back down into the village, it sure was interesting to see so many vendors and the restauranteurs out in force.

Turkish version of donut holes, tasty lokma. Batter is fried then dropped into a vat of syrup before being scooped up onto a plate and sprinkled with cinnamon. Yum! Most restaurants touted their fish sandwiches and such which made me gag. Ryan and I had our lokma and sat at a cafe to people watch with some nice hot chocolate.

I really enjoyed the nice views of Historic Istanbul’s skyline at sunset as we returned.

A shot of the boat we were on:

From the dock, we meandered across Galata Bridge to see the fishermen up close. As you can see, they line the entire length all day long.

There were plenty of these “tackle shops” with pole rigging, lures, hooks and what not. The man on the left is selecting his pick of worms next to the catches of the day.

What appeared to be a catch-and-grill stand on Galata Bridge.

Once across the bridge, we hiked up to the Galata Tower - seriously these are major hills!!! And then to the New District - Istiklal Caddesi, the bustling, hip part of town with shops and restaurants. If we had to compare it to another city we’ve been to, it’s probably most like Madrid in its grittiness but so different in its own way.

We enjoyed a nice dinner outside under heaters – Ryan had a nice gurmet steak and I had chicken fajitas. There were all sorts of local fare on the menu but when I saw the fajitas I just had to have them! Here's Ryan with another fried potato snack. They spiral cut the potato, stuck it on a stick spread out and dropped it in the fryer.

And as a minor sidenote, we got to experience a new currency. The new Turkish lira.
1 TL = $0.65
2 TL = 1 euro