Istanbul - Bospherous cruise and Taxim Square

Istanbul Travel Blog

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Dolmabahçe Palace
We had our cruise booked for the afternoon, but the weather was definitely not cooperating! After a few days of sunshine, the sky clouded over and the wind started blowing. We spent the morning trying to figure out which side-trip to take. The original plan was to either book a tour to Cappadoccia to look at rocks, or to just book bus tickets and go explore on our own. We did a fabulous job procrastinating making these arrangements and finally this morning we basically decided to scrap the whole Cappadoccia idea and head to Ephesis instead.

After lunch, we hopped on the bus and headed for the pier. Did I mention that Istanbul drivers are insane? If you have ever been to beijing and thought the drivers were bad, wait till you see Istanbul! The whole thing about Istanbul drivers is that they seem not to notice anything/anyone on the road, do not abide by any semblance of traffic laws, and go at insane speeds all at the same time.
Castle along the Bospherous
I would describe the whole experience as a white-gripped rollercoaster ride.

After boarding the boat, the vast majority of the people chose to sit in the cabin because it was pretty cold. However, being the adventurous crew that we were, we opted for the top deck and soon started regretting our decision until the captain handed us all blankets to keep warm. The Bospherous used to be a very important strategic location because it connected three bodies of water, the Golden Horn, the Marmaris Sea, and the Black Sea. This river also divided the Asian and the European parts of Istanbul. Our guide was very diligent in pointing out the numerous castles, villas, palaces, hotels, and clubs on our cruise. In addition, we actually saw dolphins swimming beside our boat!

After the boat ride, we opted to leave the group and find some fresh fish to eat along the river (we learned later on that we missed out on part of the tour leading up a gondola ride for pictures).
İstiklal Avenue in Beyoğlu (Taxim)
After eating by the river and downing a few more stuffed mussels from the street vendors, we decided to head across the bridge to the Taxim area of town, the more trendy and hip locale. We passed by the Galata Tower, which used to be an important watch tower and one-time prison. Now it's a restaurant, go figure!

The Taxim area reminds me of Europe, with lots of stores, cafes, boutiques, and bars lining the a mostly pedestrian street. We decided to make it a feasting day, and gorged ourselves on dessert at numerous cafes before finally settling down at an eaterie to wait for dark. The whoel area lit up as soon as it got dark, and after enjoying the scenery for a bit, we made our long journey back to the hostel.

That same night we discovered the nargile, or the turkish waterpipe. If I didn;t know any better, I'd take Tiff and Raymond as long-time smokers judging by the way they were puffing the bong! It was quite fragrant, with hints of apple, and I think that may well be the start of a new addiction for Tiff (who mentioned wanting to bring a miniture pipe back with her).
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Dolmabahçe Palace
Dolmabahçe Palace
Castle along the Bospherous
Castle along the Bospherous
İstiklal Avenue in Beyoğlu (Taxi…
İstiklal Avenue in Beyoğlu (Tax…
Enjoying a Sahlep in Taxim
Enjoying a Sahlep in Taxim
Galata Tower, once a prominent wat…
Galata Tower, once a prominent wa…
Topkapi Palace by night
Topkapi Palace by night
Istanbul
photo by: Memo