Monday, October 20, 2014

To Water.

View of Yeni Cami and the fish restaurants.

We ended our first full day of sightseeing by spending along the Golden Horn.  After visiting Süleymaniye Cami, we walked back to Yeni Cami.  I wanted to take Bro to the Galata Bridge to see the fishermen who congregate along its sides to cast their lines in to the water below.  It's quite a sight to see.


It's been 6 years since I've been here but I still remembered to take the underpass to cross the street.  It's basically a shopping arcade.



Stepping out in to the daylight, we were on the promenade that runs alongside the waters of the Golden Horn.  The fishermen were out in full force. 


Bro and I did quite a bit of fishing growing up and we both enjoy checking out what's being reeled in.  Usually, you see people putting their catch in to a cooler or a bucket.  Here, we saw several fishermen squeezing their catch through the opening of a used plastic water container.  Efficient as long as your catch is small in size and a great way to repurpose the container but most certainly an unusual method to say the least.


I pointed out to Bro how the men fish from the upper, street level of the bridge while the lower level houses restaurants.


On one side of the Galata Bridge, but still on the water's edge, were the fish restaurants.  I don't remember them being quite this *fancy* looking when I was here in 2008.

That unmistakable smell of fish being grilled tickled our noses long before we even spotted the first restaurant.  As we walked by, I told Bro about the iconic "bilek ekmek" aka fish sandwich of Istanbul.  We had to have one.  Actually I really wanted one but he didn't seem to interested.  I could have pressed him but truth was, I wasn't hungry.....just being greedy.  We'll be here for three more days so plenty of opportunity in the days to come to get one.


Located adjacent to the fish restaurants is the ferry dock.  This seemed like a good time as any to take that ubiquitous ferry ride up the Bosphorus.  This, Bro seemed interested in.  Tickets are still cheap as ever - 12TL for a two hour, round trip ride.  The next boat was leaving shortly so we bought our tickets and got on board.  The last time I took this ride, it was extremely popular.  Today, the boat wasn't as crowded.  Bro took an inner seat with a view of the water.  From the look on his face and his body language, I think he was getting tired.  We had seen and done quite a bit already today; I'm certain sensory overload was setting in.  For me, this is familiar territory so I was still full of energy.


While we waited for the ferry to launch, I took in the world around us and that included the shadows of the seagulls prancing on the tarp that served as our ceiling.  I am easily amused :-)


One bird is amusing but several birds is just sheer entertainment!  Maybe I was bored.


When a seagull inadvertently looks like it's standing on someone's head, well then....you've got my full attention!


I even shot video but admittedly, am a bit embarrassed even posting one up though part of me would like to interpret it as a seagull shadow play.  Okay, maybe not.  Forgive me.



As I entertained myself watching seagull shadows, the boat filled up with people.  It wasn't long before we pulled out of dock and began our ride along the Golden Horn, towards the Bosphorus.  We passed under the middle section of the Galata Bridge.  As Bro astutely noted, that's the only section of the bridge where there are no fishermen.



A short distance down the Horn and the ferry pulled in to the dock at Ortaköy to pick up more passengers.


I pointed out points of interest to Bro as the ferry moved along.

Istanbul Modern Art Museum.

Dolmabahçe Mosque

Dolmabahçe Palace.


Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and the fortress, Rumeli Hisarı.

I told Bro that once the ferry reaches the bridge, it will turn around and head back. On the return ride, we would see the shores of the Asian side of Istanbul.  We dropped off the passengers at Ortaköy.


Maiden's Tower.

Against the light of the setting sun, we could see the outline of the Sultanahmet Mosque, the Aya Sophia and Topkapı Palace.

By the time the Aya Sophia came into clear view, I knew we were nearing the ferry dock at Eminönou.


It didn't seem like we had been on the water for two hours when we pulled in to dock but sure enough, that time had flown by.


After disembarking from the ferry, we walked back towards the bridge.  Still, the smell of grilled fish and the sight of dozens of people munching down on fish sandwiches was not enough to entice Bro to partake in one.  He must be tired.


I was still full of energy so I talked Bro in to taking a walk on the Galata Bridge.  We started on the level below.  He, a I was, was amused by the sight of the fishing lines dangling from above.  We even saw a few fish being reeled up.


Bro's energy level perked up at the sight of the fish pooling in the water below.  They're definitely biting!


The fisherman on the Galata Bridge, truly a sight you won't see in the heart of any other city. 


Halfway across the bridge, at the section where there are no fisherman, we left the lower level and headed to the upper level.

Where there are fishermen, there are people selling bait. 

The bait.

The catch.

Lucky guys - they get to fish, socialize AND enjoy views of the water and of the lovely Yeni Cami.

Such an ingenious holder for a fishing rod!

Bait, ready to be hooked.

The sheer number of fishermen, who were mainly men, was astonishing.  There must have been several dozen lining each side of the bridge.



Once we were across the Galata Bridge, we were already in Karaköy. I knew that from here, it was less than a half hour's walk back to the apartment. I convinced Bro to do the walk back.  Our walk took us along the same route as what the tram would have taken.  We shared the sidewalk with worker bees returning home. 

Obviously, I had forgetten about that steep hill back to our apartment.  Standing at the base of it, it looked daunting but I had not choice so I took it one step at a time.  It's several blocks of literally walking at such a steep angle that you automatically hunch over and put hand to knee.  That's how steep that hill is!  At the point that it flattens out is exactly where the street, that our apartment building is on, intersects. Surprisingly, I was able to make it all the way up though I did need to stop part way to catch my breath.  Still, for me, that was not bad.

By the time we reached our apartment, it was nearly dinner time.  We took a short rest and then had to decide whether to eat in our dine out.  No brainer really.  Food is so good and cheap in Istanbul, cooking in would be a crime.  I had in mind to go to another lokantası.  When I was doing the trip planning for Istanbul, I came across a posting on the Witt Hotels website that recommended the top 5 lokantası.  There happens to be a Witt Hotel in Cihangir so no surprise that they recommended a lokantası in the 'hood - a place called Özkonak.


I suggested to Bro that we check it out. For some reason, I thought it was located on Sıraselviler Caddesi so that's where we went to look for the place but we couldn't find it and gave up. As we were steps away from the entrance to our apartment building, I saw the sign. Believe it or not, the place was literally right across the street from our apartment. Then, I remembered that when we asked Pelin to recommend places to eat, she had suggested going to the place across the street. She said it was not a fancy place; it just served simple home cooking. I remember telling her we would check it out :-)


Well, we found the place!  Indeed it's very simple inside.  Very.   We entered and walked past all the tables to the service counter at the back.  This place had just a fraction of the dishes that Balkan serves but there was definitely stuff that looked tasty.  Neither one of us was in any mood to go looking for another place to eat so we decided to stay. With the help of the kind server, Bro and I picked out a few dishes to share.

 


The food was unpretentious homestyle cooking; Turkish comfort food.  For us, it was the perfect meal to end the day with.


We paid for our meal at the register up front.  As we stood by the register, my eye caught sight of the small aluminum containers of fırın sütlaç, the iconic baked rice pudding of Turkey, sitting in the front window. I absolutely love, love, love this stuff!  Özkonak supposedly built its business making pudding so I figure their rice pudding must be good. That was my justification for taking a container back with me.  Dessert :-)

While I savored every spoonful of my fırın sütlaç (I did share with Bro),  he cut up the melon that he had bought yesterday.  As we munched on our sweet things, we reminisced about what we saw and did today and planned for tomorrow.  We travel simply but we always have a great time :-)


It was a great first day in Istanbul!  For me, it brought back a lot of fond memories.  I think Bro enjoyed himself as well and we're both looking forward to exploring more of Istanbul tomorrow.

Goodnight from Istanbul!