A Leisure Day in Istanbul: Taking the Bosphorus Cruise
It is one of those sunny weekend days in Istanbul. After a hard work week at Efendi Travel arranging Turkey tours for people from all around the world, I need time off from everything in my life. One of the best things you can do is to take a Bosphorus cruise.
After my breakfast, I take a long walk down to Kabatas Ferry Dock and purchase my ticket at Dentur Avrasya ticket counter for their 5.5-hour Bosphorus Tour. There are other Bosphorus tour options. I have already taken the traditional Bosphorus tour by Sehir Hatlari which takes an entire day departing from Eminonu and reaching Anadolu Kavagi, the last village on the Bosphorus before the Bosphorus greets the Black Sea. You then spend a couple of hours at Anadolu Kavagi and return to Eminonu. I have done the short tours by Turyol departing from Eminonu and reaching the second Bosphorus Bridge and returning to Eminonu, lasting only two hours. But, it was only two hours with no stops and I was missing all the beauty of the Bosphorus. This time, I chose Dentur Avrasya Tours since Kabatas Ferry Port is close to where I stayed in Istanbul.
I am more interested in taking the day in rather than sightseeing. I spend an hour before my tour’s departure time at a rundown tea house right next to the Kabatas port. I purchase my Turkish tea and try to find a table. All tables are already occupied. I first share a table with a long-haired writer (I assume he is a writer based on his phone conversation with his friend). Then my luck strikes. A table right next to the blue Bopshorus becomes available. I carry my tea there. An old lady without any teeth joins me. She starts telling me very strange stories about her life. Eventually, she gets what she wants from me. I give her 20 Turkish Liras. I am in a good mood.
The boat departs blowing his horn. And I am happy. This is my day and I am spending it on the Bosphorus. Bosphorus is about 18.5 miles long. Since, I am not taking the ride from its mains starting point, Eminonu, I am missing about 5.5 miles of the scenery. No problem.
The boat stays close to the European side of the Bosphorus allowing us to take in the beauty of the hills, mosques, and yalis (the magnificent waterside homes). Some of these homes date back to the 18thcentury. Some of them have boat garages instead of car garages. Traditionally they were built with wood and a lot of intricate woodwork details can still be seen. One of them was listed as the fourth most expensive house in the world by Forbes Magazine in 2007, and was worth 100 million dollars at that time.
After passing beautiful sights including Dolmabahce Palace, Ortakoy, Rumeli Hisari, and numerous yalis I finally arrive at Anadolu Kavagi on the Anatolian side of Istanbul. Now, I have three quiet hours to myself. I have a book with me.
Anadolu Kavagi is a quaint little fishing town with a population of 1500 people. It is a main attraction for both the tourists and the Istanbulites (or Istanbulians?) One of the main attractions at Anadolu Kavagi is Yoros Castle. It is about 30 minutes walk up the hill from the Anadolu Kavagi port. It is a medieval castle built by Romans, and was restored by the Genoese and later by the Ottomans. The view is great from the castle. You can see the opening of the Bosphorus into the Black Sea.
I have visited this castle many times before, so I opt out this time. Today is a rest day. And I have three hours to kill with no need to rush for anything.
I turn off my phone. I get off the boat and watch the fishermen mending their nets. The restaurants are lined up on both sides of the port. Most of them serve seafood, really really fresh seafood. The restaurant workers are trying to coax everyone to come to their restaurant. I walk by all the noise and take a stroll in this idyllic fishing town.
I wander into the narrow streets away from the hustle and bustle of the port. I watch the lazy cats basking under the sun. I hear a neighbor calling another for a cup of Turkish coffee. I am sure at the end of their coffee, they will turn their tiny coffee cups over onto their small coasters. And when they cool down, they will look inside the coffee cups and tell each other how wonderful their fortune will be. I think my sister is the only one very truthful about fortune telling. She can tell if there is a problem rather than sugar-coating the whole thing.
I come back to the shore by the port. I choose a restaurant that has a table right on the water. As I sit, I can hear the water lapping the wall separating me from the sea. I have a gorgeous view of the European side of the Bosphorus. I can see the sister village of Anadolu Kavagi on the European side. It is called Rumeli Kavagi. Rumeli means land of the Romans, referring to the European side.
I order a small bottle of Turkish red wine, stuffed mussells, fried mussels, and fried calamari. I open my book and get lost in it.
I walk back to the boat. This time, the boat cruises along the Anatolian side of the Bosphorus. I fall in love with the scenery again and again, all relaxed. I see some waterfront homes are displaying giant Fenerbahce flags since Fenerbahce became the champion of the Turkish Soccer Super League in 2014. Turks are really fanatic about their soccer teams!
I turn my phone on. There are thirty messages and many missed calls. I disembark at the Kabatas Ferry Port and hail a taxi to go home and dream about my blissful Bosphorus cruise.