Will, on one of our many ferry crossings.
Will came to Istanbul for such a short time, but we managed to cram in a lot of sight-seeing while he was here. On the first day, we took the ferry across to Eminönü, then the tramway to Sultanahmet and the Aya Sofia. There, Will hired audio guides for us, which was a first for me, despite having visited the place several times. I really recommend this, if you have plenty of time, as the commentary is fascinating and very informative. Thanks to the audio guide, I saw the mosaics that are located high up on the north wall of the basilica. They depict the patriarchs, John Chrysostom and Ignatius the Younger.
John Chrysostom, and Ignatius the Younger
After a well-deserved lunch, we descended into the depths of the Basilica Cistern to marvel at its beauty, and the feat of engineering that created it, followed by a brief look at the Topkapi Palace. This is so vast that we decided that Will really needs to return, so that we can spend a whole day exploring this magnificent Sultan's Palace.
Colourful lights on sale in the Grand Bazaar
Everything imaginable is on sale in the Grand Bazaar.
Our next stop was the Grand Bazaar, where we wandered up and down the bewildering maze of stalls. We managed to resist the entreaties of the salesmen, and left the bazaar to wander down the back streets to the Spice Bazaar, where we couldn't resist buying some. By now, people were swarming everywhere, and we were reduced to a slow shuffle as we descended into the tunnel under the roadway to get to the Galata Bridge. We had intended to have a fish sandwich there, but the people were already queueing, so we gave up on that and crossed the bridge.
Good son that he is, Will bought some saffron for his mother.
Once across, we took the Tünel up to Istiklal and staggered across to one of the little restaurants opposite the station, grateful for a chance to rest. Once restored to health, we continued our journey up Istiklal to Taksim Square, on the little vintage tram that dates from the nineteenth century. From Taksim we travelled back to the Asian side across the Bosphorus Bridge, on a little yellow Dolmuş. The end of an exhausting, but fun day.
On the second day we took things rather slower. David, Will and I opted for a gentle cruise up the Bosphorus from Eminönü to Anodolu Kavaği, near the entrance to the Black Sea. There, we had a leisurely lunch and sailed back down the Bosphorus again. Magical.
Büyükada's Ferry Station
On Will's last day, his friend Luke joined us and we caught the ferry to Büyükada, the biggest of the Princes Islands. At least, that's where we thought we were going. It turned out we were on the wrong ferry! Fortunately, after visiting Burgazada and landing on Kanılıada, we managed to link up with the ferry to Büyükada. Once there we had a well-deserved lunch, before taking a phaeton to the beginning of the long climb up to the Aya Yorgi, the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint George. We were glad we made the effort to complete the climb as the little church is a gem, and the view from the top is amazing.
We rode in a phaeton through the streets of Büyükada.
We saw this shoe seller, pushing his barrow on Büyükada
That was all we had time for, as Will was flying out to South Africa the following day. Never mind, Will, it's all waiting here for your return. You'll just have to come back one day.