Maps have always fascinated me, but the very best way for me to really learn geography is to visit some place new. A small part of Turkey lies in Europe, while the bulk of the country, what has been known as Asia Minor, resides in Asia. Istanbul, while not the capital of the country, sits strategically astride the border of two continents, the border being the Bosphorus Strait. This important passageway connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean (through the Marmara Sea) and is the only way for ships from Russia to reach warmer waters. We saw many container ships waiting to traverse the Bosphorus every day.
Two bridges cross the water, but the fun way to reach the next continent is by boat. The original plan was to take a cruise on Thursday, but the weather prediction was more favorable on Wednesday, and we had sunshine the entire day.
We boarded our private boat and headed north hugging the European side, gaining a small sense of the enormity of this city of 17 million people.
After we reached the second bridge, the boat reversed field and motored down the Asian side until we reached Kadiköy, a modern commercial and residential district.
Here Yaren led us to a restaurant where we enjoyed eating a variety of delicious dishes family style. I cannot tell you the names of the dishes we ate, but eggplant was certainly involved (a major food of Turkey).
After stuffing ourselves, we wandered the open air market as a group, and then we received an assignment. On our own, we had 45 minutes to make some purchases at the market (or in the stores) in this neighborhood to share at the evening’s happy hour. It was the tour’s way of urging us interact with the locals, using our best hand gestures and practicing saying thank you in Turkish.
We bought chocolates from this shop, and then at the olive stall, we asked the gentleman for 200 g of two kinds of olives, but he just scooped one scooperful of each kind and we think it was closer to double what we asked for. That was okay. They were pretty tasty.
I could not help but give a tip to this adorable girl who could play an actual tune on her accordion. I hope someday she gets a real instrument.