Four Seasons Hotel Bosphorus, facade viewed from the waterside terrace
The chilled towels, cool water and fresh fruit offered by our driver was a delightful entry to the city of Istanbul. But that delight was quickly over-taken by the welcome we received at our Ottoman Palace Four Seasons Hotel on the Bosphorus. Istanbul is a city in love with the late day sun and soft undulating surface of the blue Bosphorus. We sat on the waterside terrace, drank champagne and sampled mezze until the sun set and the stars came out. Here is where the two of us begin our journey across Europe. A modern day version of travels with my aunt, Maureen has just graduated university and is seeing Europe for the first time.
Catherine has been this way many times, but never with such delightful company.
Morning of our first full day found us back on that same terrace for fresh fruit, morning coffee, and Turkish tea. And then we were off to walk the streets of Taksim Square and Iskitlal Cadessi. We climbed the Galata Tower, rode the tram and hiked the back alleys until we could move no more. Was it jet lag or the lure of that city palace hotel, that seemed more like a resort by the sea, that pulled us back where we lay by the pool for a swim and a snooze? Perhaps both.
I think we pushed each other to get back up and return to the sites of the Beyoglu. We were both a little thick and, at the start, quite stumbly, but our late afternoon walk through Ortakoy was worth it. Ortakoy seems a coastal village unto itself, yet it was only a ten minute walk from our hotel. It’s very much a local neighbourhood, yet like all of the city, it flows with tourists from every nation. Streetside neighbours are shoulder to shoulder with the races of the world as they shop the winding lanes of street markets. Along with many nations, old cultures and new are layered atop each other. It was down by the ferry dock that we saw a stunning example of just such a thing. The late day sun turned the marble façade of an ancient mosque to fire and also illuminated the modern span of bridge, that stretches over the water between the European and Asian ends of this timeless site.
Tram Driver on Iskitlal Caddesi.
Young families out for their day’s end walk weaved through the hawkers, teenage boys took turns diving into the sea and the Imam’s prayer call saw men trailing through it all towards the mosque. At the same time we both spotted the best restaurant for our evening meal ��" it was the one that hung the farthest over the edge of the Bosphorus and it was still early enough that we could catch the best table before the crowds took over. “Hey! Let’s get that table ��" the one way out there. Not even on land, it is a floating dock. Ooo…this is almost too close. That guy is trying to moor his boat to our table leg.” This is a spot we can definitely recommend, especially for a late afternoon or early evening meal. The menu is varied at The House Café: fresh seafood, spectacular salads, indulgent pastas and the best lemonade ever; fresh lemons and mint, topped with a paving of sliced apple slabs. We spent the rest of our final evening on the Bosphorus back out on that wondrous terrace, pinching ourselves that we were being pampered in such sumptuous surroundings ��" and those pinches were also meant to keep us awake so that we could enjoy it longer.
Hot Tub and Pool with view of Bosphorus