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Thursday, 11 October 2012

Wednesday 10th October Evening, Magnificent Istanbul – Galata Bridge.

Sitting with our after dinner tea and coffee, we wondered what to do next. Looking out of the window, it didn’t take long to work out that an evening stroll would be exactly right. Istanbul is a massive city and built around an inlet off the Bosphorus called The Golden Horn. The inlet is extensive, going inland quite a way, and is crossed by a couple of bridges. The closest one to our ship is called The Galata Bridge. It is unusual because the top of the bridge is used by traffic and pedestrians as you would expect, but underneath is filled with restaurants. So we decided to take a look.
We left the ship about 8.30 pm. Bearing in mind we live out in the sticks, the first thing we found overwhelming was the traffic. There didn’t appear to be any rules, or speed restrictions, or even sense. Horns blared, brakes screeched, buses, cars and taxis competed for the fastest racing starts. Complete madness! We had to cross this at one point, and it’s scary.
We continued on past the guys with their little barrows selling roasted chestnuts and sweetcorn, obviously the snack to have here in Istanbul. We watched the various ferries load up and whizz off along the Horn and out across the Bosphorus to the other side. If I haven’t already said so, the Bosphorus is the narrow strip of water separating Europe from Asia and connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. The ferries are carrying people and cars from European Istanbul to Asian Istanbul. Cool eh? I have to say, the river traffic was nearly as manic as the road traffic. There were boats and ships everywhere, of all sizes and speeds. Again there seemed to be no rules, except may be “give way if the other boat is bigger than yours”.
As I said, a very busy and noisy city, even at this time of night. The mosques and minarets looked superb, lit up on our right, the lights of the ferries and bridges flashed and twinkled on our left.
Galata Bridge
We reached Galata Bridge, and even though we sort of knew what to expect, we were truly surprised at what we found. There were easily 20 -30 wonderful looking eateries. As you walk along, the waiters are constantly trying to entice you inside. The restaurants looked and smelt wonderful, as did the food. The waiters were very chatty, entertaining and persuasive, and the atmosphere was brilliant. We regretted having already eaten on board ship and thought that if we were to come this way again, then dinner in one of these restaurants was definitely the thing to do. You could enjoy your meal watching the manic river traffic, and the perhaps if you were lucky, a fish would go whizzing past, hooked on one of the fishermens lines above you. Once we’d crossed the bridge, we came back across the top. This was nearly as entertaining. There were loads of street traders and fishermen. The smell was quite different and not at all pleasant, but the vibrancy and colour, lights and noise of the city was still all around. 
We walked back to the ship still soaking up the atmosphere. I know all big cities are like this, I can imagine places like New York, Paris, Rome and even London being the same at night, each with it’s own accent and unique character. I have to say, the accent and character of Istanbul is awesome.
Time for bed now though, there is still so much more to discover, and we only have tomorrow.

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