Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011 – Istanbul, Turkey – Sunny – 85F'

A beautiful day in Istanbul, Turkey

We are on tour today: “Bosphorus Cruise” 

The bus (a nice air conditioned coach) took us from the pier over the Galata Bridge (on the “Golden Horn”) to catch our boat. 

The docks are right across the street from Eminomu Square and the New Mosque (below).

Mosque near Bosphorus boat pier 1 (Small)

Several busses were on the same boat so it was a little crowded but not bad for picture taking.

The boat headed back under the Galata Bridge and into the Bosphorus Straits (which divides Europe from Asia) and north toward the two bridges that span the straits on the way to the Black Sea.

Our tour boat takes us closer to the European Side of the Bosphorus.  There are several ships docked in Istanbul today.  One of the most interesting is the Queen Elizabeth.  Not as big as the QM2 or QE2 but still a magnificent vessel.

Queen Elizabeth Cruise Ship (Small)

Queen Elizabeth Cruise Ship

We also get a great view of the Mariner of the Seas.

Mariner OTS (Small)

Mariner of the Seas

Once we pass the cruise ships, we are afforded a great view of the European city with the distinctive Galata Tower.

Galata Tower from boat (Small)

European Side and Galata Tower

There are many interesting buildings and mosques along the shoreline as we continue along – I like the second picture below since it contrasts the classical mosque with a new modern structure.

European Side (Small)    Mosque and Modern Building (Small)

One of the most striking buildings on the European side is the Dolmabahçe Palace,  built between 1843 and 1856 by the first Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

The XXXXX Palace (Small)

Dolmabahçe Palace

The next structure along the shore is the large and opulent Four Seasons Hotel, with it’s outdoor eating areas and pools.

Four Seasons Hotel (Small)

Four Seasons Hotel

The Ciragan Palace is another royal building along the European Shore.

Ciragan Palace (Small)

The Ciragan Palace

Two bridges cross the Bosphorus and connect Europe and Asia.  The first one we encounter is the Bosphorus Bridge.

The XXXX Bridge (Small)

The Bosphorus Bridge in the distance

Bosphorus Bridge (Small)

The Bosphorus Bridge

Beyond the Bosphorus Bridge the shoreline contains upscale homes, waterside eateries, and shops (two pictures below).

Where the Rich Folks live (Small) Wealthy homes (Small)

It took a few minutes but we finally got someone to take our picture on the tour boat.  As you can see, the boat was pretty full.

H and E Bosphorus Cruise (Small)

Rumeli Hisari, is a Turkish castle on the European side of the Bosphorus. It was built in 1452 by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II for the conquest of Constantinople. The castle is located near the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.

The XXXX Fortress (Small) The XXXX Fortress 1 (Small)

Rumeli Hisari Castle

After crossing under the second bridge, the boat turned around and sites along the Asian side took center stage.

The guide, in an effort to promote the interfaith identity of Istanbul and Turkey, pointed out a site that contained a synagogue, mosque, and church in very close proximity (below).

Synagogue Mosque and Church together (Small) 

In the center of the Bosphorus is the Maiden’s Tower.  It was originally built around 400 BC and served as a lighthouse for hundreds of years.  The tower is also mentioned in the mythological tale of Hero and Leander (an earlier version of Romeo and Juliet).  It has been modified several times over the years to reinforce the structure.  It is now a popular restaurant.

Momument Mythological (Small)

Maiden’s Tower

The return trip gave us a long view of the many ships docked in Istanbul.  The Mariner OTS was the largest of the ships in the group.

All the Cruise Ships (Small)

After disembarking our tour boat, we walked across the street to the Spice Bazaar.  The Bazaar dates back to the late 16th century (a few renovations since then I’m sure).

E near the Spice Marker (Small)

Ellen in Eminonu Square (near Spice Bazaar)

Eminonu Yeni Camii (new) Mosque 1597 (Small)

Eminonu Yeni Camii (new) Mosque 1597

The Spice Bazaar is a fantastic place – any spice or candy you might need is here.  We were told to be careful about low priced Turkish Taffy (not compatible with the GI system).

The Spice Bazaar (Small) The Spices on Sale (Small)

The Spice Bazaar and the Spices

Ellen did buy some spices and got a photo op with the proprietor.

E and Spice Guy (Small)

While in the Spice Market, Ellen noticed the word “Kosher” on one of the signs.  After going into an alley and up some scary stairs, we found “Levi's Kosher”, a buffer type place serving all kinds of Turkish style kosher food (e.g. kabobs, hamburger steaks, rice, veggies, and chicken).  We told him we would try to come back tomorrow.  There were no customers in the restaurant, not a good sign.

Kosher Restaurant (Small)

Levi’s Kosher Restaurant in Eminomu Square

After returning to the ship, we went looking for the Starbucks we had seen from the bus.  In our previous visits to Istanbul, we were hesitant to venture out off the port (just didn’t look inviting).  This was deceiving because once to get past the ugly port buildings, the street beyond is nice, new, and bustling.  The Starbucks was only a block away.  After trying hard to find out how to log in, I got some some help from a customer, who said everyone was on the same UN and PW.  She gave it to us and soon we were on line on TTNET.  We checked our e-mails and sent some pictures home.  All in all, we spent three hours at the Starbucks (not sure if they appreciated that) – I did buy a Vente Vanilla Mocha Coffee ($6) so I earned some series connect time.  We save the UN and PW for tomorrow.

On Line at Starbucks (Small)

Ellen on line at Starbucks

After returning to the ship, we spent the rest of the afternoon watching the boat traffic on the Bosphorus.  It is fascinating – like a highway on the water.

Ship Departing (Small) Ship traffic on the Bosphorus (Small)

We also could see the big three of Istanbul – Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque – from the deck (below)

Hagi Sophia Topkapi Blue Mosque (Small)

After dinner, we took some night time picture of Istanbul.

Blue Mosque area at night (Small) The XXXXX Bridge at night 1 (Small)

The Bosphorus Bridge all lit up

Moon over Istanbul (Small)

Moon over Istanbul – and a planet as well

Since the ship is staying in Istanbul overnight, the show tonight consisted of local musicians and a Folklorico Show.  We gave it a few minutes and then went to the lounges (largely deserted) to read.

Pedometer: 11,164; 5.3 Miles; 546 Calories

1 comment:

  1. If visiting Istanbul and residing near Sultanahmet then you will be hounded by several tour guides offering you a hop-on hop-off tour of the Bhosphorus. I strongly recommend arranging tours through your hotel with www.privatetoursinistanbul.com I opted for the full day tour of the Bosphorus (on a boat) and Dolmabahce Palace Package Bear in mind that Dolmabahce Palace is closed on Monday and Thursday, and you cannot enter the palace without a guide.

    The agency will collect you from your hotel in the morning and you will be taken on a slow private boat cruise through the Golden Horn and along the Bosphorus. This is an amazing experience which enables you to take in the Ottoman architecture (including Topakapi Palace), the old city and the new city from a wonderful angle, and because the cruise begins at the Golden Horn you can view the entire peninsula and see Istanbul properly (utterly breathtaking). Additionally, a guide will explain all the buildings and their significance throughout which adds that little bit more. The cruise is followed by a drive and short walk towards Pierre Loti Hill and a cable car ride down the hill so you can view Istanbuls real skyline and amazing beauty. Subsequently, you are given a three-course meal (covered in the price of the tour) and en-route to lunch you will pass Constantinople's city walls which guidance throughout. Post-lunch you will spend 2.5 hours going through the Palace. The Palace is huge and not all rooms are open to view, but the tour takes your through the main quarters and each aspect is explained. You cannot take pictures inside the palace but the gardens are beautiful and you will have ample oppurtunity to snap away outside the garden. Finally, the tour drives you over the famous Bosphorus Bridge taking you from Europe into Asia and leading you towards Camlica Hill (highest peak in Istanbul). The view here is beyond description and you will be in utter amazement.

    The best thing about the experience was having a tour guide who was passionate about his history and culture.