Monday, January 14, 2013

Blustry winds, beautiful sights and breathtaking smells

      Our day began with the Bosphorus cruise that took our group along the European side of Istanbul then down the Asian side. While on the boat, we sat on the top deck and got to see the beautiful sights while our tour guide explained the history of some of the buildings.

      But first about the Bosphorus. It is about 400 feet deep and anywhere from half a mile to two miles wide. Two bridges that span the two continents of Asia and Europe sit on the more narrow part of the strait. The sixteen mile long strait from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea plays a crucial role in Turkish economy, as many trading ships use this passage. Additionally, each boat passing throught must have a pilot captain to help with navigation on the strait. These pilot captains must be paid and are often very expensive.

      We started the cruise near the Golden Horn, which is the body of water that cuts into the European side of Istanbul. From the deck, we could observe the buildings and bridges around us. Although it was windy out on the water, the sights were fantastic. Some highlights included the Queen Mother's Mosque, the New Galata bridge and the Dolmabahçe Palace.
Rumeli Hisari

      Turning onto the Bosphorus and moving between the European and Asian sides of the city, we passed the fortress constructed by the Ottomans in 1452 called the Rumeli Hisari. The location, now within the Istanbul city limits, once sat outside the Theodosian walls that surrounded the city before the Ottomans took control. It was built by Sultan Mehmed the Conquerer as part of his efforts to conquer Constantinople.

      After returning to dry land, the group proceeded to the spice market. Here, our senses were bombarded with aromas and sounds of people calling to us in many languages. The shop keepers are anxious to have customers and it is customary for them to ask where you are from and offer you tea or Turkish Delights while they show you the many treasures within their stores.

      Orginally built to support the building of the nearby mosque, the spice bazaar traditionally contained spices from Egypt, though now the spices come from all over the world.  Today, local people shop in this bazaar, so haggling is not as prevalent because  prices are not as inflated. Overall, today presented a great opportunity to oberve the growth and changes in Istanbul over the years.


  1. FABULOSO pictures of the spice market - bring it all home - those colors are amazing and I can only begin to wonder at what the smells must have been like. Really cool!!

  2. Charlotte Lanphear auntJanuary 15, 2013 at 6:53 AM

    It is hard to imagine the volume of all those spices. The food must be incredibly flavorful! Keep those wonderful pics coming!

  3. You are not a Charlotte LANPHEAR aunt - silly!!! :-)