Friday, 5 August 2016

Crossroads of the World - Day 6

Bosphorous Bridge

Istanbul                                                                         Turkey

Tuesday 14th October 2014

This morning was a surprising one as for the first I had been here; there was no call to prayer which meant I woke up a bit later. Yet again I had a great night sleep and was raring to plan out my route for the day. My priority was to finally take the voyage of the Bosphorous boat tour. This was the last major sight seeing I wanted to do to complete my exploration of the week. I took a bit of time getting ready though before finally heading off towards the busy streets of Istanbul. I headed straight to the Hippodrome as I knew that there would be people along there trying to sell tickets for the boat trip. However, along the way I noticed two American tourists looking a bit lost and confused so I thought I would offer them my help. They wanted to be at the Blue mosque so I asked them to walk with me as I was heading towards there myself. We had a good talk along the way such as asking where in America they came from before separating. 

Walk to Hippodrome

I was immediately welcomed by a man trying to sell tickets to the two American tourists who declined his offer. He then saw me walk towards him and he asked how I was and shook my hand. He was explaining the route and time but he obviously couldn’t tell that I already knew where it was going and the fact that I was intending on buying a ticket anyway. He told me it would cost 35 Turkish liras but would give me a discount to make it 30 Turkish liras. I paid and received my ticket and I was told I would have to return to the meeting point at 12:30pm; so I decided to grab something to eat but nothing expensive. Along the streets of Istanbul there were kebab shops so I walked to the closest one I could find. I ordered a chicken döner kebab to take away and once I had it I sat down at a perfect seat with an amazing view of the Hagia Sofia watching the world go by. The kebab was perfection in a wrap; I couldn’t believe how tasty they were making them a hell of a lot better than kebabs back home. Then I sat for a moment in front of the Blue mosque watching the sun beginning to gleam onto the golden spires of the mosques domes. It was getting near the time to go to the meeting point but because the sun came out through the clouds, I realised I left my sunglasses thinking that I wouldn’t need them. So I made haste back to my apartment and then straight back to the Hippodrome. 

I was sweating and out of breath by the time I returned to the meeting point but in good time still. I sat for a while longer amongst dozens of people on the same trip before a guide eventually called upon everyone to follow him to the boat located at the south. We seemed to have walked for more than 10 minutes staying close to each other trying not to get hit by passing taxis before finally arriving at the shore line. Our boat moored up and we were soon all aboard. I sat at the top and the back of the wooden boat so I could get a greater view of the Bosphorous. Our boat was a reasonably good sized boat which was completely made of wood minus the blue and white fibre glass hull making it look old fashioned; so long as it stayed afloat, I was happy. We soon set off and I was going with the flow of the water without feeling ill. The first sight I seen was the Blue mosque and the Hagia Sofia at the top of the hill still looking magnificent. We then passed Topkapi palace and heading towards the golden horn.

Hagia Sofia
Topkapi Palace

It was amazing to be sailing on the golden horn with the Galata tower on the right and a great view of Süleymaniye mosque on the left as we went underneath the Galata Bridge; there was also a great smell of the sea which reminded me of home. We headed back out of the golden horn and into the Bosphorous again passing large cruise ships which dwarfed our little boat and heading towards the Bosphorous Bridge. As I was there yesterday, it actually felt great sitting on a boat without having to walk all the way there. I was relaxed as we strolled peacefully along the Bosphorous. 

(Left: New Mosque - Right: Suleymaniye Mosque)

Galata District

Cruise Ship

We passed famous sights such as the Dolmabahce palace which looked immense and even better from this side than the other. As we passed some five star hotels, we passed the Ortaköy mosque and couldn’t believe how quickly it took getting there compared to yesterday. I was secretly laughing under my breath as I watched the water splash vigorously over the docks in the distance nearly soaking people in its path. I was overwhelmed with the size of the Bosphorous Bridge yet again as we passed underneath it realising how high it was to the top. 

Dolmabahce Palace

Ciragan Palace

Ortakoy Mosque

Once we passed the bridge, there was an immediate difference with the look of the area as there weren’t any mosques to be seen or ancient buildings; it felt more like a holiday destination with hundreds of villas and homes on the side of the hills with a clear blue sky and the sun out bright and hot. At this point the boat made its turn and began heading back but this time we were closer to the Asian side which looked a lot more quiet and peaceful than the European side. There was a lot less sights to see along the Asian side though which didn’t really matter to me as I was enjoying the views anyway. 

Beautiful Shipl

Beyond Istanbul

Beyond Istanbul

Beyond Istanbul

Beyond Istanbul

But as we got closer to the old city, we were approaching the one structure I wanted to see called the Maidens tower. I was hoping we would moor up at the little tower but we kept on our current course. It was a remarkable moment to watch it go by though as we made preparations to return back to shore. Finally we were nearing the shore so I left my seat and stood at the bow of the boat beholding the memory of the magnificent view I had in front of me which was the Bosphorous lit up by the sun making the water that bit more blue, Asia on my right and Europe on my left with the huge skyscrapers far in the distance to the north east. I disembarked the boat and I headed back to Hagia Sofia to undergo the second part of my plans.

Maidens Tower

Final View on Boat Tour

Bosphorous Tour Boat

Today was gift buying day so I made haste for the Grand bazaar. It took me a while to arrive at the bazaar and I was still mesmerised by the sight of the stalls and layout of the area. I was lost with all the immense colours and sounds of people browsing and negotiating around me and I felt very happy being amongst it. I wasn’t there to sight see though; I was there to purchase and the merchants knew this as I was pestered quite a lot to have a look at what they were offering. When I wanted to purchase something I immediately went into haggling mode and it worked as after I got most of my trinkets and gifts, I saved about 25 Turkish liras which I was impressed with. I decided to head to the spice bazaar too to see what they had to offer. 

Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

I arrived to the strong smell of condiments yet again but I got used to it after a while. I only bought Turkish delights and was contemplating on buying some honeycombs too but I decided to head back to my apartment to sort out my gifts packing them away. The next day would be my final full day in Istanbul so I needed my rest to make the most of the sights tomorrow. Everything was packed in my hand luggage so I spent quite a lot of time relaxing on my terrace admiring the night sky and the lit up minarets in the distance. I decided to grab my sweets I had brought with me from home and took one out and placed it in my mouth. Then a very weird flavour came onto my tongue. As soon as I took the sweet back out, I realised that it had ants all over it. Then I looked into the sweet bag and was shocked as the whole bag was full of ants. I couldn’t believe it as I was still laughing at what happened as I headed off to bed.
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