Up the Bosphorus
That title sounds vaguely dirty, but I promise the Bosphorus is anything but! (Ha ha … that also sounded dirty!)
Also known as the “Istanbul Strait“, the Bosphorus is the bit of water that separates Europe from Asia. If you look back at Alex’s blog last week, he had a great map showing how the water really stands between the two continents. It is apparently the narrowest strait used for navigation, which we can testify to after seeing all the giant ships with containers on-board! It’s apparently quite a dangerous stretch of water, because it’s narrow, the water flows quite fast, and there are some 80 degree turns that the giant ships have to navigate. Not to mention all the ferries dashing across between Istanbul and Kadikoy!
I’ve always had a strong desire to go on a cruise up the Bosphorus – my earliest memory about it dates from my 7th grade history class, when Ms. Leinwebber talked about going to Istanbul and sailing up to the Black Sea. She talked about how beautiful it was, seeing Europe on one side and Asia on the other … and that moment has stayed with me ever since. So when we made plans to go to Istanbul, I knew that a water journey was high on my to-do list!
Knowing that, we checked the weather and chose Thursday for our cruise excursion, because it was supposed to be bright and sunny all day. We actually had great weather the entire time we were there, and Thursday turned out beautifully. But we didn’t quite make the cruise we had originally planned on! The boats leave Eminonu quite early in the morning, by 9:30 or so, and take 3 hours to sail up the strait. Then they leave you in a little coastal town for about 2 hours, and then it takes 3 hours to sail back down. That’s a looooong day on a boat!
So we decided to do something a little different. We took the tram as far as it would go on the Galata side of Istanbul, and then hopped on a local bus up to Bebek, where there is an old castle perched alongside the water. It’s one of the castles that Sultan Mehmed II built when he besieged Constantinople – ultimately the city fell, and it became Istanbul. From Bebek we walked up to Rumeli Hasari, which is a really cute little waterside town – with nice looking cafes and a gorgeous walkway along the water.
Then we waited (a loooong time) for another bus to get farther up the Bosphorus, and conveniently we met up with the day-long Bosphorus Cruise on the way back! So we still got to experience the water, but only one-way. Which worked out perfectly. I think it was a really good choice – especially because a lot of the other people who had been on the boat all day were bored and tired … some were even sleeping!