Dr. Arnold Plotnick
(click pictures to enlarge)
Monday was our last full day in Istanbul. Today, the plan is to take a cruise up the Bosphorus. Anyone who’s read Orhan Pamuk’s book, “Istanbul” knows the importance the Bosphorus Strait plays in the lives of the people of Istanbul. The 19 mile-long Bosphorus serves as Istanbul’s main highway, hosting a never-ending stream of vessels, from little fishing boats to humungous oil tankers to luxury cruise ships. It’s one of the busiest waterways in the world. It’s the only outlet to the Mediterranean for Russia, and the only route to any sea for other countries on the Black Sea, like Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Georgia. The Bosphorus separates two continents – Europe and Asia. It connects the Black Sea in the north with the Sea of Marmara and (eventually) the Mediterranean in the south. The Turks view the Bosphorus as much more than just a body of water. It’s a sacred inheritance. The locals are very content to just sit for hours on a bench that overlooks the Bosphorus and watch the boats go by. I crossed the Bosphorus when I headed over to Uskudar. A 13 minute ferry ride, however, is no way to experience the strait. Today, we have a 90 minute cruise up the 19-mile waterway, and I’m excited.
The public ferry, which leaves from the Old Town side of the Golden Horn, departs every day at 10:35 a.m. To ensure a good seat on the left (European side) of the boat, we got to the ferry dock early. Maybe a little too early. So, with a bit of time to kill, we crossed over to the Spice Market area and grabbed a pastry and some tea. The vendors outside the spice market were just setting up their stands. I noticed in a planter nearby, a cute young cat poking about. This cat had a red collar on, which I suppose indicated that she was being looked after by someone.