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Istanbul, Day 4

September 18, 2006
Today we were going over to the Asian side to meet up with our friends in Turkey who we met at a party in Philadelphia. They were going to drive us around and show us the real Turkey!

We started off by heading over to the Eminonu ferry station. The scene was just like a train station (albeit a small one) in Japan! There are hordes of people waiting, looking at the clock, and when the door opens there is (gasp) quite orderly conduct! Except in this case, people were getting on a ferry instead of a train. We went to the higher deck to ensure we had a good view of our ride along the Bosphorous. We had been thinking of going on a cruise but this was much cheaper and just as fun!

As you are going southeast, you can get a nice view of Sultanahmet on your right. You can see, from the far left, the Blue Mosque, then Haghia Sophia more in the middle, and then Topkapi Palace on the right.

view of sultanahmet district from the ferry

We arrived at Kadikoy and again, the scene was oddly remeniscent of Japan… Was there a historical connection between these two cultures? The small streets, the activity around the train (or ferry) stations, random food carts, etc etc. Even the bookstores were a carbon copy of the ones I used to frequent in Japan! We drove up and down the neighborhood, walked a little bit, and drove up to Chamlija (I forget the spelling…) which is apparently the highest hill in Istanbul. There was a nice park on top of the hill, and we walked around a little, then sat down for some Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee is ridiculously strong!

We went over to their apartment after that and relaxed a little, and then went to Beylerbeyi Palace which was built much more recently than the mosques, but still during the times of the Sultan.

beylerbeyi palace

Beylerbeyi Palace is supposedly much less intricate and detailed than Dolmabace Palace, and although we didn’t have time to go inside Dolmabace Palace during this trip, I couldn’t even image what it must be like compared to Beylerbeyi which I found quite opulent. The palace was right next to the river, and the view from the rooms were amazing! I wish I could have taken one decent picture of a “room with a view” but the lighting was as difficult as it could get, and again we were part of a tour so I didn’t have too much time to fiddle around with my camera, not to mention it was also difficult trying to take pictures without people in the way!

entrance, beylerbeyi palace

chandelier and ceiling, beylerbeyi palace

bedroom, beylerbeyi palace

Our host then had some business to take care of, so we spent a little time by the river.

We then went to Bagdat Street, one of the trendiest streets around, lined with boutiques and such. Here was also where one could see all things American, e.g. Burger King, J. Crew, etc etc. We stopped by a Turkish fast food place called Ikbal, and had Doner sandwiches. The best food I had in Turkey, I must say, were the “Turkish fast food” joints. They put french fries in their sandwiches (which are more like subs), so yummy…!

doner chef

After a little more local sightseeing, we headed back over to Eminonu. On the way back, there was quite a nice view of Sultanahmet but unfortunately the pictures are a little blurry as I didn’t have a tripod with me, and even if I did, I was on a ferry it wouldn’t have mattered.

eminonu at dusk

Tomorrow, the plan is to finish seeing almost everything we need to see, as we only have two days left and one day we wanted to check out the Princes’ Islands.

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