A metropolis perfectly planted by the sea, Istanbul tempts tourists with its alluring waterways. With a name like the Golden Horn, how could one not feel curious and captivated?
The pamphlets laud the cruises folded in with dinner and the belly dancers — and a tourist-appropriate price tag of 70 lira or so. We had browsed through the assorted offerings and hadn't felt particularly compelled.
But still: the Golden Horn! The Bosporus! The strait that separates Asia from Europe! How could we simply stare longingly from the shore?
Then, after an afternoon of the cacophonous Spice Bazaar, we emerged from the retail tunnel lined with mounds of spices into the daylight. I was tired, but a nap felt like cheating. A precious day in Istanbul was still full of possibility.
Across the highway, we spied the sea — and a row of ferries.
Turkish commuters rushed about. It was 5:45 or so.
We trekked across the lanes of traffic to the ticket window, hoping to find precisely what we did: For 10 lira each, we could take a 1.5-hour trip up the Bosphorous and back. No belly dancers. No bad buffet. Just a jaunt on the fairy tale strait.
And the next ferry? 6 o' clock.
We could hardly believe our luck, and with just a minute of hesitation, hopped aboard.
This photo is for my mother, who always urges her children to locate the life preservers.
For some reason, all the ferries set off at precisely the stroke of the hour. Wouldn't it be more efficient to stagger the starts, we wondered ...
Departing the dock, Europe would soon be on our left, Asia on our right.
Soon we would approach the bridge linking the two continents.
We saw ancient walls, a modern amphitheater created out of (we later learned) an old dungeon, the giant block of Istanbul Modern, elegant mansions that reminded me of Lake Como's residencies, and interesting ships churning up the waves.