Thursday, July 14, 2011

Erin Takes on the Bosphorus

Lovely day for a boat ride!
I am a little bit behind on my posts as usual, so here is my attempt to catch up. A couple days ago I signed up for a tour of the Bosphorus. Now for those who are not as geographically savvy, it is the channel that connects the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea. It also runs between the Europe and Asia sides of Istanbul. Did you know that Istanbul is the only city separated by two continents?

I was picked up at my hotel again, but this time it was a van and not a huge bus. The family that belonged to the South African dad who I met at the travel agency was there too. We made one more stop and drove to the port where our lovely boat was waiting for us. It was awesome, three levels with comfy seats, and I had the second level all to myself (at least for a little while). The cruise started and we went to sites both on the Asia side and Europe side.

Cat keeping away the evil eye.
I'm in Asia!
The first one was called Ortakoy which was a cute little shopping area right under the first bridge. I wandered a bit and watched the cats wander a bit, then it was back on the boat and headed to Asia to the Beylerbeyi Palace. Apparently it was a summer residence for one of the sultans and known for its chandeliers. Soon it was on to the Rumeli Fortress in Europe. We pretty much bounced from side to side alternating Europe and Asia. While this was happening, I met a lovely family from Malaysia who would take my picture for my after I took their picture. We had a very nice agreement. They, like others found it fascinating that I was traveling alone. It was nice to meet families along the way, I was sort of adopted everywhere I went.

New Friends!
By this time, I was starving. Luckily, it was time to go back on to the boat for lunch and a continuation to the Black Sea. Unfortunately, there were new people on the boat now who had joined the 2nd half of the tour, so I lost my spot. I decided to go up to the top floor. That's where I met Mary from Milano Italy and German man (let's call him Claus). They were both traveling alone too and we chatted throughout lunch. Also while eating our Turkish meze and grilled chicken we partook in a German tradition as well. Hooray for Claus!
Meze plate

After lunch, a gorgeous ride, and some lovely Turkish music (although at one point the Godfather theme song came on which made me laugh) we stopped at the mouth of the Black Sea near a beach. Then it was off to the fishing village of Poyrazkoy where we only had 15 minutes to spend there. It was the most productive 15 minutes ever though. I bought a ring and a bracelet and I was able to eat a whole ice cream cone. I was pretty impressed with myself. After a long day on the boat, we were headed back to port of Kabatas and back to the hotel. I only got a touch of sunburn, but it was an absolutely beautiful day. This trip is a must do (thanks Walkabout Travel)!

More sophisticated meze plate
Headless Sea Bass
It had been such a wonderful day I decided to continue that feeling and treat myself to a three course dinner at Cafe Sultania. First it was a meze plate with all sorts of lovely items including dolmas (grape leaves wrapped around filling usually rice or meat) which I don't usually like, but they were sooo good. The next course was a headless sea bass. I had the option to keep the head on. Finally, I ended with a fruit plate. This was entirely too much food for me, but it was all so good I had to just keep eating. No meal is complete here though without the complimentary beverage. I indulged in some Turkish coffee and a little dish of Turkish delight. Absolutely delightful! As I sat there, I could still feel the boat moving. My waiter even came over to me at one point in the night and in a very worried tone asked me if I was ok. I said yes, that I was enjoying everything, and he replied that he was concerned because I was being so quiet. Haha I'm alone, who am I going to talk to? Now that I had sufficiently burned my fingers, lips, and mouth (this lovely cup was metal) it was time to go to bed.

Turkish Coffee