Day 2 (morning)Temperature: 5 degrees
Weather: fog in morning, blue sky
"Istanbul by Land & Sea" was the name of the tour that I booked for the full day through the Conrad hotel's concierge desk at a price of 210.00 Turkish Lira ($120.00 CAD) per person. Since the tour was departing at 8:00am in the morning, Michel and I got up much earlier in preparation for it.
A delicious breakfast was eaten at the Manzara Restaurant on the second floor where a variety of hot and cold plates were served buffet style. The restaurant’s décor was quite beautiful where the walls were hand painted with scenes of Turkish architecture and culture. We sat near the window at a big round table which gave us a better view of the entire restaurant with people coming and going.
We were picked up at the hotel right on time by an English speaking tour guide and after introductions were made, we followed him inside the air-conditioned vehicle. In total, we were 7 tourists, two guides - one being on training and the driver.
Down the busy streets we went with myself being very excited for today’s activities. The famous intercontinental Bosphorus Bridge that connects the European and the Asian sections of Istanbul was crossed over. The huge bridge looked absolutely fabulous this early in the morning with the light fog in the background giving it a mystical appearance. While traveling over it, 60 meters above sea level, an immaculate sight of the city’s both modern and ancient sites could be seen. Breathtaking!
We were now in the Asian section of Istanbul, this section being more residential than the European section. A short stop was made where we stretched and enjoyed the view of the Sea of Marmara in front of us. In the far distance, shadows of the Prince’s Island could be seen hidden in the early morning fog. The sun was slowly but surely making its full appearance through the clouds announcing a beautiful day ahead of us! Hip, hip, hurrah!
Back inside the van, we were then driven to the highest point in Istanbul, the Camlica Hill being 267m above sea level. As I looked around, the hills and their surrounding pine forests made me think of back home as well as the little bit of snow seen here and there.
We had an hour and a half of leisure to simply relax, walked along the trails and enjoy the unique panoramic view over the city. It was absolutely magnificent! Istanbul was showing us its beauties in total splendor since we were now blessed with a beautiful clear blue sky which made us see far, far away endlessly.