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October 29th 2010
Published: January 22nd 2011
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Is it a river? Is it a lake? No, it’s the Bosporus strait! Connecting the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea, it not only divides the city of Istanbul, but also marks the end (or beginning) of Europe, and the beginning (or end) of Asia. The massive city spreads out on both sides of the strait. When the countless amount of streets and people become too much, the water is the perfect place to seek refuge.

The ferry sets off from the Eminönü pier on its journey towards the Black Sea. The seats are not very comfortable, the amenities are few, and no voice from the speaker system tells you to look left, right, or straight ahead to see this and that building or bridge. But, for a fraction of the price charged by the private cruise operators, you will pass the same sights on this public ferryboat.

It’s a fairly large vessel, and it cruises at moderate speed, making stops on each side of the strait. It’s obvious how important this waterway is for the city, and surely the shores hold a lot of interesting history. We sail under the two bridges spanning over the Bosporus. They are huge, and I can imagine how vital they were for the development of the city. For me it’s about the journey itself though. Being on the water. Getting away from the hectic street life for a little while. Taking in the sea breeze.

After about an hour and a half of zigzagging through the channel, the ferry docks at its final stop, Anadolu Kavağı. This peaceful little village is the complete opposite from the bustling metropolis only a few miles away, and a welcome break from the downtown craze. We have a couple of hours before the ferry returns, so we walk up to the ruins of an old fortress. From there you have a impressive view over the Black Sea and the entrance to the Bosporus. In sunset it’s an astonishing scene.

It’s almost dark when the ferry leaves for the slow trip back to the city. It’s gotten colder, and I am thankful for the indoor seats. One of the large bridges uses itself as the canvas for an extraordinary lightshow. Besides this spectacle, the sights are the same as on the way there, so I doze off.

Landing at Eminönü, the journey has come to an end. Half a day of exploiting one of the most significant waterways in the world for a the price of a few Euro, a very price worthy trip. And possibly the best part of Istanbul.


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