Exploring Istanbul – Galata Bridge


Day 2: 11th April

After the huge and well documented (=:P :P) Half Day Tour (=spanning over 4 notes!!) we made our way back to the room (=202 and 203 of course)….We decided to explore Istanbul on a high (=:P No alcohol, just from a tower called Galata Tower!)

When we had gone on the Half Day Tour, we’d seen the Galata Bridge and the Bosphorus. But to get to the Galata Tower was a tricky job and so we consulted the Reception at the ‘Golden Horn’. They had a map of Istanbul where the Manager pointed out the route to my dad. We also purchased a copy of the map. (=Good to have in Istanbul with all the lanes and by lanes)

Istanbul is also famous for its trams. The main road which bordered the Topkapi Palace had a tram line. Every 5 minutes a tram would pass to or fro. To go to the Galata Bridge, we had to pass through a side lane (=Remember the lane we had to go thru to reach Ozler??) So one of those lanes got us to the main road. A little further on the main road brought us to the Istanbul Gare. Its a beautiful building designed by Mustafa Hamdi Pasha. The “Orient Express” made famous by Agatha Christie’s namesake thriller, terminates here.

We finally took a chance and purchased some ‘Kestane’ (=Shingada in India) which the seller roasts on coals. (=What kind of a seller was he, hauling some kestane to the coals :P)

The road opens up to the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus is a strait that separates the European and Asian side of Turkey.It is the world’s most narrow strait and is also the most navigated (=Istanbul’s waters are pretty busy you know). It connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. 

Most of Turkey happens to be located in Asia but the Turks prefer not to be associated with the “poorer” continent. Whereas Europe constantly snubs its “poorer” fan.

Yea so back to the Bosphorus. Since there is a lot of activity on the European side, there is a constant exchange of traffic both people and cars (Photo1). It was fun to see a boat bring in cars from the Asian side.

Since this opened to the sea, it was quite windy. There were carts at a small distance of each other selling Kestane, Corn, Samit (=Bread with sesame). There were also stalls selling coffee(=Kahve to you), fish sandwiches in which the fish was grilled with mustard oil it smelt but i really can’t be sure. Anyway it didnt look very tasty so we skipped that.

But we did succumb to buying some Corn. I’m warning you, NEVER buy corn from Istanbul, the ones on the road. The corn tastes rubbery and totally kills the mood. (=Of course we had a fun time trying to force some seagulls to eat it, guess they knew it was bad too!!)

We walked along the road until we reached the Galata Bridge. Now this is an important bridge because

1. A tram way runs through it

2. It connects the Historical Peninsula with the ‘Suburbs’ and Work Places at Istanbul.

3.The underside of the bridge is filled with restaurants speciality ‘SeaFood’

Also we had to constantly duck because of the whiffs of cigarette smoke (=They all Smoke!!). Also If your ‘Road Crossing’ Instincts come alive and you want to explore the other side of the bridge then I’d advise you not to put a foot out of the pavement because you would certainly be run over by a car or a tram. There is a subway which can be used to cross.

It seems that the bridge was built 5 times and at one point during the reign of Emperor Justinian toll was also collected from the people. It is one of the few bridges in the world to carry electrified rail tracks. All daily city tours in Istanbul include this bridge as it is the passageway to the Old City of Constantinople.

I Spy…: When we started walking across the bridge, we noticed a peculiar sight. There seemed to be a lot of people fishing.(Photo 7) Literally fishing, baiting with some small fry or worms, they reeled in their lines waiting for the fish to be caught. Some of them had freezers and other manual equipment that could guarantee you a solid entertainment.

It was quite fascinating to watch. The people just stood there waiting for the fish to fall for the bait and looked around at all the activity around them. A nice way to spend some time i’d say chilling out in the sun (=Not very harsh at that time of the year)

Also you’ve got to carry a sweater or a muffler of sorts because it gets very windy and chilly as the evening progresses.

So we walked ahead joking about everything under the sun, looking at the people who were fishing. When we crossed the bridge, we saw this vendor selling “Churos”. Now when we’d visited California back in 2001 Churos were fried bread dipped lavishly in cinnamon sugar (=Yummm). So we got some of that labouring under the impression that it was the same thing. But, it turned out to be fried bread in sugar syrup making it like a crispy ‘Gulab Jamun’ (=:P). It was enjoyable nonetheless.

Now to find our way to the Galata Tower, we’d have to cross the road which was no mean job let me tell you. But luckily for us there were people who crossed like how everyone crosses back home (=Phew, lucky break) so we did manage to get across. After that, a few directions and an uphill road were the only things that kept us from reaching there.

There are many lanes and by-lanes that oft lead to the same place so you can be sure that the route you took would lead you somewhere close to where you want to be. The road that we took to go to Galata Tower was an uphill one with a lot of climbing en route. There were a series of steps first and then a curved road lined with some apartments and Couture Clothes Shops. We were quite out of breath when we finally reached the Tower.

The lane we took opened out to a square where 4 paths met and where the tower was situated. This tower would give a panoramic view of the whole city. (=Timings 9-7, also has a restaurant..very haute unless you have the cards to pay)

It seems the Tower at one point was crumbling but speedy restoration led to the Tower being in its present state. When we reached the square, we had a seat on a bench and munched on some chocolates (=Power Boosters!!) while we watched some dogs play.

We did explore the Tower and saw a super Panoramic view of the city but that makes yet another story 😀 😀

 

Stay Tuned

 

Cars shipped across the Bosphorus

 

Kestane!!

 

Yucky Corn!!

 

TP

 

Bosphorus

 

New Mosque!

 

Fishing off the Bridge

 

The Bosphorus

 

The Other Side

 

A Panorama

 

The Tower

Maybe I Was Destined


It had been a while since i felt so good. So light and free. So zapped. To see a sky glittering with millions of stars. To hear nothing but my voice. To feel protected. I took a breath and pinched myself. A spectacular view from a mountain? A night sky with beautiful stars? Was it a dream?

Lets unravel a bit!!

This relates to the time I was in Auckland working part-time as I studied. I’d been through a hectic term. Exams and Interning was tough enough not to mention it was a cold harsh winter. I longed to be back in India sipping an OJ for it was summer there. I’d come home late from work and then stay up downing coffee and pushing myself for yet another sleepless night. And then pull through a paper not remembering anything after. The adrenaline was bound to burn off someday.

I had a weekend off after the exams and I decided to drive down to no place in particular. I’d heard about the beautiful parks in Auckland especially Mount Eden and I thought I should give it a try. But i struck out. The highway was jammed. With cars and snow. I had to stop mid way in a small road connecting the highway.

And that’s when I’d had enough. I got out of the car and stumbled in the dark with tears pouring, blinding my way. Snowflakes melted at my hot face as I drowned in a torrent of emotions. I couldn’t even see where I walked.

That’s when I met her. Mrs Eugene. I couldn’t believe what happened then. She took me to her cottage. (=Just like in a movie…a small cottage atop the hill with a friendly dog and a cute old man!!) And in that messed state I was in, they heard me out and gave me some brandy to drink 😉 (=Hey I was chilled in the snow!!)  And for that while I couldn’t stop crying. And secretly feeling so good that someone was so concerned.

In a while I was good to go. Mr Eugene took me through a different way to my car which incidentally was at their gate?!!? And I stopped. I saw IT. The snow. The trees. The sky. The silence. I gaped.  A brilliant dark blue sky with thousands of diamonds. Glittering diamonds. The beautiful city lit up and celebrating. The rivers and the beautiful night lights dancing together. I stood for an astonishing amount of time.

Just looking at a beautiful landscape, those unadulterated colours and that silence made me feel that this experience was god sent. The Universe wanted to replenish me. Refuel the adrenaline. I could feel warm wind engulfing me in a hug and the trees whispering their support to me.

When I realised that Mr Eugene and Wolfie the dog were waiting I was led to my car with directions and a welcome anytime. Contacts were exchanged and I drove for a bit and then looked back waving.

I know that life is hard. You’re knocked a little hard too often. But what I realised looking at the stars and blurting out all my seemingly silly troubles to an old couple who stared at the stars every night is:

Tonight I was destined. To see the stars and to feel ALIVE again. And that what took my breath away came after I was pushed to the precipice. The thing is the Little Girl in me believed that something nice HAD to happen. And Happen it did.

Maybe I was Destined. Maybe it Just Happened. But the Stars for me have never stopped Twinkling. Since then. Enjoy the brilliance in You. Maybe you need a star-studded sky to realise what a bright STAR you are. But its worth it.

Yes Maybe I was Destined.