Saturday, January 3, 2015

Istanbul - Bosphorus Boat Trip

Istanbul straddles both Europe and Asia with a population of 14 million, it is the largest European city and the 6th largest city in the world.  The Black Sea is to the north. Jason and the Argonauts of myth made this journey.  The Golden Horn is a horn shaped inlet that goes west into Europe. To the south is the Marmara Sea and further on the Aegean and then to the Mediterranean.   There’s a significant current in the Bosphorus Strait. As a sailor I was impressed by this and appreciative of the difficulties that navigating this Strait up to the Black Sea would have involved.  Strategically placed on the Silk Road travellers had to cross this Strait from Asia to reach Europe.  it’s place of shifting tectonic plates and many earthquakes have affected the region through history.
My guide Mehmet Tetik (90-532-6120113 told the that Greeks first inhabited the area of Istanbul in 600 BC.  Their leader was called Byza which became the source root of the Byzantine Empire which reigned till Constantine the Roman Empire Constantine made this his New Rome and called it Constantinople.  The Crusaders indeed raided Constantinople weakening it considerably before it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1353.
Mehmet arranged for our boat ride. One of the advantage of having an official guide is that they are allowed to jump the queue.  Our boat was packed but we were still able to get a seat by the side . “This side (port side) is the best side of the boat for viewing,” Mehmet said. It was breezy and chilly because this is the coldest time of the year.  I loved being outdoors on the water enjoying watching all the traffic.  It was a great trip and a truly terrific way to get an overview of the city.  Given the importance of waterways through history and the love of humans for a ‘view’ it really was a way to see the city. Mehmet was a godsend for pointing out various landmarks and describing the history and significance of palaces, universities,  city development and the importance of different mosques. I must admit too I was impressed to see the hundred million dollar homes and think how we complain about house prices in Vancouver. So much of real estate is ‘location, location, location’. Istanbul is really all about ‘location’ for thousands of years.
Many of the old buildings which were palaces have been turned into museums. Onesuch had been turned into what is today a famous art school. Many were built in the 17th to 19th Century with the obvious Russian and French influences apparent in architecture.One of the palaces is a luxury hotel today with room rates beginning at $700 US. There’s a bridge for cars that connects Asia and Europe but as well now there’s an under the Bosphorus tunnel for travel.  Another bridge is being built and will open this year.  DSCN3080
The Turks built a wall and fortress cutting the city off from the north resources. Controlling the strait they starve the city and eventually succeeded in their conquest.


DSCN3109 This is the hundred million dollar or more house but Mehmet says that it comes with a yard.
This beautiful red house is the house of the physician to the country’s leader.  Still I have the sense that doctors are valued more here overall. There’s that European respect for education and knowledge that I sometimes find so absent in the crude concern about money in Canada. I’m not saying that money isn’t appreciated but that a poor professor is still respected as knowledge is seen of value beyond simply it’s capacity to generate money.
All along the Asian shore there were villas. This one with the beautiful boat attached was the one I most admired.
DSCN3121 Modern home with modern space age design. I thought it would look best if it had a rocket ship attached.
DSCN3119DSCN3120 The ancient building was the Hunting Lodge of the Sultan and his friends.

DSCN3125This was the military academy.

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