This morning we breakfast on the rooftop terrace of our hotel. The food is very continental consisting mostly of cheeses, cold meats and bread. There are some tasty pastries that we wash down with juice and coffee.
After these we head out into istanbul again. We head down to Eminou which is an area near the Galata Bridge which seperates the old and new parts of Instanbul on the European side. We are approached several times by men trying to get us on various boat trips. I did a bit of research before the trip and was told to avoid these as the trips are ivariably on very small, often unseaworthy boats.
Instead we had a bit further to where the large commercial and passenger boats operate from. We find one offering a 1 1/2 hour round trip up the Bosphorus which is perfect for us. The alternative seems to be 2 hour trip up to the Black Sea a 2 hour stopover and then 2 hours back. A bit too long for us. As is is onyl 10.15 we find a cafe under the Galata Bridge for a coffee. There are hundreds of fishermen arrayed along the bridge trying their hand at catching something.
After coffee we head back towards the pier. This whole area seems to be fish central and is popular with locals buying what looks like sandwiches and small plastic cups filled with a red liquid. The smell is a little intense. I later learn that the sandwiches are called Balık ekmek and the cups contains pickles and vinegar. They are sold from these fancy looking boats that are moored to the pier.
We board our boat which quickly fills up but we have nabbed some good seats on the upper deck. I chose the port side to offer us some shade and good views of the cruise ships in dock as we pass. Most of the notable temples and fortresses are also on the port side as we sail up the Bosphorus, although I didnt know that at the time.
We sail slowley past the cruise ships first of all. Celestyal Crystal, P&O Adonia, Seabourne Odyssey and Celebrity Equinox. We then pass the Dolmabahçe Palace (Sultans Palace), Ortaköy Mosque and the Rumelihisarı (also known as Rumelian Castle). It was built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II between 1451 and 1452 and look very impressive where it sits near to the Fatih Bridge. The bridge marks the northernmost point of our journey and we turn around to make our way back to Eminonou. The views on the other side are not so impressive but the journey overall was very good and a snip at £2.60 each.
When we leave the boat we cross the Galata Bridge over to the new city and catch The Tünel.It is an underground funicular with two stations, connecting the quarters of Karakoy and Beyoglu. Inaugurated on January 17, 1875 the Tünel is the second-oldest subterrannean urban rail in the world, after the London Underground (1863). It's only a very short journey and when we emerge at the top it takes a while for us to get our bearings. Once we have we head along a very busy and modern shopping district. The feel of this place is very diffrent to the old part of Istanbul where we are staying. It certainly feels a lot more hip, chic and younger.
We eat in the Hard Rock Cafe. Unsuprisingly for a mainly muslim country my fave pulled pork sandwich is not on the menu but the pulled chicken is equally as nice. From there we walk down a very steep hill that is full of quaint coffe shops and uber trendy fashion and general stores. We exit near the cruise port where there is a tram stop that will take us more or less back to our hotel. It's extremly crowded, a bit like the London Underground at rush hour.
We spend the rest of the afternoon in our hotel. We book a transfer to the airport for the morning and then shower and head out for dinner. We eat at a restaurant called Imbat and I cannot fault either the location, the service or the food. The Restaurant overlooks the Bosphorus and we can see the busy commuter ferries nipping too and fro across the waters as night decends. We can also see the impressive Bosphorus Bridge which is all lit up at night and changes colour frequently.
We order the Traditional Turkish Meze Plate (best we have had in Istanbul). I then have the Tombalak, which is lamb slices marinated with milk, onion & paprika. Peter has the Imbat Style Kebab (chicken and steak slices served on pitta bread topped with yoghurt and tomato sauce). We both enjoy very much. We finish with homemade Baklava. The local wine was superb too. After thise we take slow walk back to the hotel and retire as alarms are set for 4.30 for our 5.15 pickup for the airport.
So overall this has been a very interesting trip. Some lows (delayed baggage) and some highs. Taormina, Rhodes Old Town and magnificent Istanbul. We really, really enjoyed our first Celebrity Cruise. Connie was a beautiful ship and the perfect size. The itinerary was great and we tried to do something diffrent on those ports visited before. All in all a great holiday.