Lost in Bosphorus

On our third and last day to roam Istanbul, we planned to see as much as we could. We took the route from the gates of Topkapi, walked past the lovely park, exited through the alley in front of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, followed the train tracks and upon seeing the Bosphorus Strait, we knew we’re on the right path.

Comfort food! We saw a McDonald’s chain on our way to the port and decided to have some quick brekkie. Menu is exactly, well almost, the same as Dubai’s.

All aboard the ferry on its two-storey majesty! For a few liras, you can hop to different districts, not to mention continents! The best thing about traveling through ferries is the chance to see how locals live their everyday lives especially those who ride the ferries early in the morning to get to their respective offices/schools.

It’s hard not to look like tourists so we kept our books in our bags and made a mental note of the port we’re supposed to go. When we were about to board, we had a little fight with our memories – Kadikoy or Karakoy? Both starts with “Ka” and ends with -koy. Without checking our books, we boarded a ferry to Kadikoy which took us a few minutes of sailing. We startled upon realizing that we’re sailing away from our destination ( we’re supposed to go to Galata Tower’s side, so obviously we’re on the wrong boat!) and we’re approaching a non-familiar place. Uh-oh. We got off the ferry anyway. The Istanbul Haydarpasa Terminal lured us to.  It’s so lovely I couldn’t stop hitting the shutter.

We then rode another ferry and this time we made sure we’re going to the right port, Karakoy.

Steps/ramps–whatever that deals with steep slopes–never fail to make us suffer whenever we travel. ALWAYS. This steep and narrow (and graffiti-filled!) alley leads to the Galata Tower.

The 66.9 meters tall Galata Tower on its glory! It has a pretty plaza at its foot and a fantastic view of the city on the deck. During the Ottoman period, this functioned as an observation tower to spot fires.. Also, there were several flying attempts from this tower, which, if I remembered correctly, was pictured on the walls of the tower.

There’s a lift available that goes up to the restaurant on the deck–360 deg view of Istanbul’s skyline guarantee!

After the trip up, we continued walking around and admiring this beautiful side of Istanbul. Still, steep footpaths were very challenging but beautiful buildings like this–full of intricate details–made the leg-aching walk worth it. Structures of this kind is everywhere! So cool!

Then we found ourselves in the fabulous Istiklal Caddesi. It’s a three-kilometer stretch that features a pedestrianized shopping zone, restaurants and cafes, bars, pubs, art galleries, public libraries, churches, consulates and embassies, theaters and yes, everything posh! There’s also a tram that runs in the median of the street.

At the end of the avenue lies this sculpture, the Monument of the Republic, which is the main feature of Taksim Square. This side of town is a transportation hub, shopping avenue, demonstration spot–a mix of everything cultural, leisurely, historic and all that jazz that makes the square a symbolic heart of modern Istanbul.

We walked past further and followed the signs that lead to Dolmabahce Palace, Ataturk’s summer residence. Seeing just the clock tower and later on the Gate of the Sultan, I felt I’ve seen too much lovely details and pretty designs (obviously, that’s just what I thought) already. The long queue, that by the way took us more or less an hour, gave me the opportunity to admire the surrounds of the palace more. We’re also lucky that were able to see the change of guards.

Entering the gates, a lavish garden and a magnificent edifice welcomed us. Every corner is picturesque, I couldn’t help but take a snap!

One cannot enter the palace without a tour guide (English, Turkish, French and a couple of languages are available); and a pair of plastic booties for your feet. Also, photography is prohibited inside.

Few things that shouldn’t be missed while taking a tour inside the palace: [1] the Bohemian crystal chandelier at the ceremonial hall; [2] the clocks that stopped at the time Ataturk died;and [3] the great staircase with crystal bannisters. Outside, my favorite features were the gate that leads to the Bosphorus Strait and the white-and-clear Crystal Palace.

Going out, near the small souvenir shop lies this cozy open air cafe for visitors.

After a few hours, we headed down to the bus station near the port and went back to Sultanahmet. We called it a day way too early than the usual because we have to fly to Cappadocia the following day. By the way, sunset that day looked so fantastic!

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