Sailing, sailing

Trip Start Apr 19, 2010
Trip End Jun 06, 2010

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Thursday, May 6, 2010

To save our sore feet and let the world pass us by, we decided to do the Bosphorus Cruise 'Tour'.  Although it is called a tour, it is really the public ferry that goes up the strait to a small fishing village and returns after about three hours.  The Bosphorus Strait serves as a main highway in Istanbul. This body of water connects the Black Sea with the Mediterranean and separates Europe from Asia as well as dividing Istanbul itself.  It is one of the busiest sea channels in the world.  Add all the shipping between the countries on the Black Sea and the rest of the world, all the Istanbul commuter ferries and fishing boats, and you have an extremely busy waterway. Watching the boats makes you wonder how they keep from running into one another.

The cruise lasts about one and half hours each direction and makes six stops on both the European and Asian sides.  It ends up in a small fishing village, Anadolu Kavagi, where it stops for 3 hours or so before the return journey.  It is a terrific way to see a lot of Istanbul and to enjoy a day on the water.  However, I have to report that it was damn cold on the outside deck!  As you get closer to the end of the run, the ferry comes closer to the mouth of the Black Sea and there was a wickedly cold wind coming down from Russia.  The little village is geared up to serve lunches to the hundreds of folks who make this journey and it is a couple of blocks of restaurants with aggressive touts trying to convince you that their restaurant was the cheapest, freshest, best, and on and on. 

We passed ocean liners docked in Istanbul, luxury hotels, sultans' summer palaces and massive bridges.  One of the bridges once enjoyed the record for the longest suspension span in the world but lost that honour falling to 15th longest at 1090 metres.

All the good we did spending about 7 hours resting our tired feet, was soon lost when we decided to check out Istanbul's New District.  The new district is a large pedestrian only shopping street that is about two kilometres in length and has about a million people walking down the street.  It is full of modern stores and, yes, Starbucks, and yes, I did stop for one.  The main street has many more streets or alleyways running off it that are full of restaurants, bars and shops.  All in all, it was quite an experience.   There is a little train that traverses the street but we didn't try it.  It seemed to be always crowded besides which we had rested the feet, remember. 

We first left the cruise boat and walked over a bridge to try and find a funicular that runs up the hill to the new district.  It apparently was the second underground passenger train (after the London Tube) was built.  It had no roof and used oil lanterns for lights, apparently it was not an immediate success!  It started out moving goods up the hill but eventually people being people saw a way to avoid the exercise and soon adopted the method of travel.  The other end of the street there is another funicular but we couldn't find it.  We couldn't get decent directions so we gave up and walked our now less than rested feet all the way back down the street to the funicular we knew.  Down we went to catch the tram back to the hotels and to continue my beer research.
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