Day 25: To Asia and back

Istanbul Travel Blog

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I always love a gentle, quiet, tranquil boat trip
People I met here and/or traveled with: Derk & Ed (Netherlands)

It is comforting to know that in Turkey the weather forecast is as bad as anywhere else in the world;  the next morning there was not a cloud in the sky.
The Bosphorus is the 32 km waterway which separates connects the Mediterranean sea with the Black sea, and which splits Istanbul in two. It also marks the division between Europe and Asia, so basically we were taking a day-trip to Asia and back. I was in Asia just a mere two days ago, but it still sounds cool.

We took a boat all the way up to the Bosphorus north of the city, where it meets the Black sea. There are dozens of ferries criss-crossing the Bosphorus, but the only line which makes it all the way from the Eminönü docks to the Black Sea is a tourist ferry.
The mighty Bosphorus bridge, the fourth largest in the world
Although you pay ten times the fee of a normal ferry, this is very well worth it, as the 90-minute trip to Anadolu Kavaği is a very scenic one. On the way you pass several palaces, mosques, fortresses and other interesting buildings.
Although the ferry stops 5 times on the way, you can not hop off and then take the next boat again. The hop-on, hop-off concept hasn't arrived yet in Turkey. So should you disembark halfway, you will have to pay the full price again to continue. We figured we would only buy a single ticket to the end of the Bosphorus, and then find our way back by public transportation stopping at the sites on the way.

After a very relaxing boat ride we arrived at Anadolu Kavaği  where we climbed up the hill to the ruins of an old fortress. From here you have magnificent views.
One day, three little zulus hopped on a ferry...
To the south the Bosphorus, all the way back to Istanbul, and to the north the Black Sea. Ah, the Black Sea, so we meet again. A mere three weeks ago I was staring at the very same sea from the opposite end, in Odessa.

We spent quite a while up at the ruins, admiring the views, and then went for a beer with a view at one of the many cafés at the base of the ruins.
Back in the town of Anadolu Kavaği we decided to grab lunch before taking the bus to the next town. Several restaurants were offering a set menu with a drink included, and rather than eating at an á la carte place we went for one of these. We didn't expect much in terms of quality, but we were very pleasantly surprised as this proved to be particularly good value for money.
Of the choice of fish on offer I had chosen sardines, as these were caught in the Bosphorus (always go for the local, is my motto).
Anadolu Kavaği ruins
They were served with a starter of calamaris and fried mussels, salad and a large glass of efes - all for the price of a single kebab in Istanbul.

We took a local bus to the town of Kanlica, from where we hoped to catch a ferry down the Bosphorus again. Kanlica is famous for its yoghurt. On the way over we had bought some of this yoghurt on the boat and we had liked it so much, that we bought some more again for the way back.

We took a ferry from Kanlica across the Bosphorus, to the wealthy suburb of Bebek. Near Bebek lies the impressive Rumeri Hisalı fortress, a fortress which was built in a mere four months in 1452, which went out of service a mere year later when Constantinople fell. It is very impressive indeed that this imposing structure is still standing five and half centuries later.
Rumeri Hisalı fortress

Very well worth a visit, we thought, until we found out that there aren't any direct ferries from Bebek to Istanbul. If we had wanted to take a ferry to Istanbul, we should have stayed on the previous ferry to Çengelköy from where a connecting ferry leaves to Istanbul. From Bebek the only option was the expensive tourist ferry. All of a sudden it made sense to me. For normal people there are plenty of public ferry options. However, if you wish to visit touristic sites along the Bosphorus, the tourist ferry is the only option. Bastards!

Well, we don't give up easily. We wanted to be at the Galata Tower before dark, so we left the fortress for what it was and took a local bus back to Istanbul instead.

To get to the tower itself we had to change to the tram at Kabatas and then travel uphill via the Tünel, one of the oldest still running funiculars in the world.
Galata Tower
Not a very scenic one though, as it runs through a dark 3km long tunnel.
Ferry, bus, tram and funicular - that is 4 types of public transportation to get from A to B.

The Galata Tower itself disappointed somewhat. Sure, it is an impressive building, one of the oldest (1348) free-standing towers in the world, but we were not sure it justified the long queue and the 20TL entrance fee.

So instead we just went for our daily dose of beer and nargileh and consult the guidebooks about where to go for dinner tonight.
In the tram I had had a nice chat with a Turkish lady, who had recommended we'd go to a little street full of restaurants near the Galata Tower, the Çiçek Pasajı. It took a little while to realise that this was actually a place which had already been on our planned itinerary.
İstiklal Caddesi


To get there we walked via the İstiklal Caddesi, Istanbul's main shopping street. More than 2 million people walk up and down this street every day, and it looked like at least half of them were there the same time as we were. Walking down the street we heard a brass band playing some very familiar Dutch tunes. What the....? As it turns out, there is a Dutch consulate on the İstiklal Caddesi and today being Queensday in Holland, there was a party going on. Unfortunately us carrying a Dutch passport did not warrant entry to the party. What happened to the good old days when an embassey meant an extension of your country which every citizen could enter? Maybe only in the movies. All we could do was peek through the gates and see how the consul and his staff enjoyed themselves.
busy bustling Nevizade Skokak
Looks like tax money well spent...

It surprised me we weren't the only ones who jokingly tried to get in. Let me rephrase, that didn't surprise me that much, what did surprise me was that there were a lot of Turks trying to get in. And they were all speaking fluent Dutch!
Then I realised that this week is a school holiday, so many Turks living in The Netherlands must have come here on vacation. Still, after a week of difficulty communicating with locals this was quite a weird experience.

The  Çiçek Pasajı hasn't enjoyed the best reputation over the past decade (though it looked like the place has seriously improved since the publication of the Lonely Planet) and the restaurants here seemed a little over our budget. Behind the pasajı is an even more popular street, the Nevizade Skokak, which is completely packed with small restaurants.
Delicious mezze
And with people! It was as if the 2 million daily visitors to the İstiklal Caddesi all went for dinner here. At the same time!

We managed to find ourselves an outdoor table at a small restaurant where we gorged on hot and cold mezze. Once again we decided to skip the main course and just have mezze instead (and some dessert of course). The house speciality was quite an interesting thing. It seemed like tuna (or meat?) with a humus coating and cinnamon. A very weird combination and utterly delicious.
The staff was very attentive and not the least bit pushy (a welcome change from the rest of Turkey) and coffee and tea after dinner was on the house. All in all an excellent choice.

(See also Ed's Blog)

huibdos says:
Thanks for linking to Ed's blog
Posted on: Oct 24, 2010
Biedjee says:
thanks!
Posted on: May 09, 2010
anupa_rk says:
Lovely reading!
Posted on: May 09, 2010
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I always love a gentle, quiet, tra…
I always love a gentle, quiet, tr…
The mighty Bosphorus bridge, the f…
The mighty Bosphorus bridge, the …
One day, three little zulus hopped…
One day, three little zulus hoppe…
Anadolu Kavaği ruins
Anadolu Kavaği ruins
Rumeri Hisalı fortress
Rumeri Hisalı fortress
Galata Tower
Galata Tower
İstiklal Caddesi
İstiklal Caddesi
busy bustling Nevizade Skokak
busy bustling Nevizade Skokak
Delicious mezze
Delicious mezze
Istanbul skyline with Yeni Camii (…
Istanbul skyline with Yeni Camii …
Ortaköy Camii, undoubtedly the mo…
Ortaköy Camii, undoubtedly the m…
Ortaköy Camii
Ortaköy Camii
Ed in his usual pose
Ed in his usual pose
Rumeri Hisalı fortress
Rumeri Hisalı fortress
Kanlica docks
Kanlica docks
Wonderful houses at Bosphorus wate…
Wonderful houses at Bosphorus wat…
One of the posher Istanbul suburbs
One of the posher Istanbul suburbs
Derk and Biedjee on the ferry
Derk and Biedjee on the ferry
arriving in Anadolu Kavaği
arriving in Anadolu Kavaği
arriving in Anadolu Kavaği
arriving in Anadolu Kavaği
Ed takes a shortcut up to the ruin…
Ed takes a shortcut up to the rui…
Looking out over the Black Sea (bl…
Looking out over the Black Sea (b…
Thats better: Black Sea!
That's better: Black Sea!
Three Zulus and a little insignifi…
Three Zulus and a little insignif…
Turkish delight - Warning! Can ca…
Ed trying to figure out where his …
Ed trying to figure out where his…
insert own comment here
insert own comment here
excellent lunch in Anadolu Kavaği
excellent lunch in Anadolu Kavaği
Back at Kanlica, buying tickets fo…
Back at Kanlica, buying tickets f…
on the ferry to Bebek
on the ferry to Bebek
famous Kanlica yoghurt
famous Kanlica yoghurt
on the bus to Istanbul
on the bus to Istanbul
WTF...?!?
WTF...?!?
İstiklal Caddesi
İstiklal Caddesi
Trying to find the Çiçek Pasajı…
Trying to find the Çiçek Pasaj…
Party at the Dutch consulate. Tax …
Party at the Dutch consulate. Tax…
Such fun, going out for dinner wit…
Such fun, going out for dinner wi…
Istanbul
photo by: Memo