A Ferry Ride Down the Bosporus

I’m on a work trip this week and this evening I was looking at pictures from our family trip to Turkey, which was back during the 2009 Christmas Holidays. I’ve written a couple of posts about our time in Istanbul, which you can find here, here, here, and here.

Overall it was an incredible trip full or remarkable experiences, and one of the most remarkable was the day we took the ferry from Istanbul to Anadolu Kavagi at the far end of the Bosporus.

bosporus-T-2 Map
Map of the Bosporus Strait.

The Bosporus, as you may recall from 9th grade Social Studies, is a strait of water that connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and ultimately the Mediterranean. It also separates the continents of Europe and Asia.

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We got on the ferry at the Eminonu station, in the heart of Istanbul.

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We passed apartment blocks that were jumbled together as they climbed the steep hillsides.

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Judy and David on the Istanbul Ferry

For us, the public ferries were one of the highlights of Istanbul. They were reasonably cheap and comfortable, and constantly provided you with the most amazing views free of charge. They were full of a mix of locals and tourists.

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The ferry stops had the informal, everyday feel of sea going subway stations, but in a good way.

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Gradually the landscape became less congested as we got further from Istanbul.

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There were some pretty fancy-looking homes right on the water.

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We passed by the Fortress of Europe, built by the Ottomans in the 15th Century as part of their campaign to conquer Constantinople.

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Looking back towards Istanbul, we saw the water spanned by the Ataturk Bridge.

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The Bosporus is a bustling waterway, full of commercial ships.

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Eventually we began to pass smaller towns, each with its own docks lined with fishing boats.

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Finally we came to Anadolu Kavagi, lying under the gaze of a ruined 14th Century castle.

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Once we got off the ferry we wanted to hike to the castle, and so we climbed the steep lanes of the town.

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The higher we went, the more we could see of the Bosporus.

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Finally we reached the massive fortification, known today as Yoros Castle.

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The castle has been held at various times by Byzantines, Italians, and Ottomans. Here is a cross and Greek inscription left by the Byzantines.

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It was windy up there.

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From the castle we could see the mouth of the Black Sea, with Europe and Asia at either end.

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By the time we got back to Istanbul, the lights were coming on in the New Mosque …

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… and also on the Galata Bridge across the Golden Horn.

This was one of those trips that really gave us new perspective on the world: on history, culture, food, and religion. Our ferry ride down the Bosporus was one of the most memorable parts of the experience.

47 Comments on “A Ferry Ride Down the Bosporus

  1. what a nice story. and so sad to know, that this very strait is now the scene of unspeakable drama…

    • It seems in Europe people are much closer and more aware of the refugee crisis. When I looked at these pictures, I didn’t even think about what is happening now until you mentioned it. But of course everything is different now.

      • One can’t really escape it, TV news is 90% refugee crisis and how to solve it.

  2. The world is changing so quickly, I hope we are able to make this trip one day, without fear and in peace. Your trip looks really memorable Jason, family holidays are special times.

    • I would love to go back but not until the situation has improved. It saddens me that the current Turkish government has become much more authoritarian.

  3. That’s a great ride – I was so happy to visit Istanbul a couple of years ago but must go back and enjoy a ferry journey on the Bosphorus.

  4. Great to see and read about this–reminds me how little I know about many famous things.

  5. It sounds like a magnificent trip. Love the photos too. The one that precedes the following text looks like a painting:
    Once we got off the ferry we wanted to hike to the castle, and so we climbed the steep lanes of the town.

  6. “Wow” doesn’t even begin to describe this post. What a treat to accompany you and your family on this trip. I was especially taken with the shot of Europe on one side and Asia on the other. I also enjoyed seeing pictures of your family.

  7. I visited Istanbul in 1960 while stationed on the USS Forrestal; it was an incredible first visit…wonderful food. Little did I know I would later be stationed on the south bank of the Sea of Marmara 61-63. We could see the lights of Istanbul in the sky. Rode that ferry many, many times to Istanbul for liberty. It was before the bridges. Great memories.

  8. We’ve had a few holidays in Turkey (including our honeymoon) – it’s a beautiful country. Lovely to see your photos. Thank you, Jason.

  9. I can see why you enjoyed the ferry, I could easily spend days on them! Some lovely waterside homes too, I bet they cost a pretty penny! The fortress certainly is impressive! I recently watched a documentary on that castle, the history is fascinating. I do love trips that give you much to reflect upon. I did enjoy this.xxx

  10. I was in Istanbul in the 1970’s when it was an absolutely fascinating place to visit but not so tourism friendly as today. Unfortunately with all the upheaval going on in Europe at the moment and the migrant situation getting out of hand Turkey has been thrust into the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

  11. Istanbul is a beautiful city. I especially like the high hills and castles. At least when you visited, it was another time in 2009. Those short number of years made a big difference. Even when I was in Eastern Europe, going to Turkey was not as much a risk. I know it is pretty safe to travel to Istanbul (and pretty much not further), but in this day and age, you never know.

    • I admit I would be reluctant to go there now. Istanbul is probably safe, but I don’t like how the government has become more repressive.

  12. It was very interesting to see this beautiful and ancient city from your journey on the ferry with your family. I loved seeing the houses perched on the cliffs, and the stunning New Mosque, against the evening light. Many thanks.

  13. A strange thought to be on a small boat between two massive continents! It must have left such a lasting impression.

  14. I wish I’d have a chance to spend as much time in Istanbul as you did. I was only there for three days and didn’t cross the Bosphorus. What a wonderful experience! πŸ™‚

  15. Fine set of photos and story! Dittos to many of the comments. My memories of a couple years there in the late 80s are landscape–the hills coming down to the Bosphor–in the spring–umbrella pine, italian cypress and Judas tree, Cercis silaquastrum. Thanks for the memories!

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