Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cruising on the Bosphorus

It is a must to take the Bosphorus cruise while in Istanbul.  

The Bosphorus divides two continents and connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara which connects with the Aegean Sea and out to the Mediterranean Sea.  A lot of seas surrounding Istanbul!  But the Bosphorus has always been of strategic and commercial importance as far back as 330 A.D. with the establishment of the city.

It was a great way to take in all of Istanbul's neighborhoods (Europe and Asia sides) which extend up the 18 miles to the Black Sea.

Most of the attractions were on the European side starting with the  
Dolmabahce Mosque 
built exclusively for the sultans.

 The 19th century Dolmabahce Palace complex 
lies next door with its centuries-old trees along the gate.

  A bit further down is the Four Seasons, formerly a state guest house.
Now that's the type of guest house I wouldn't mind staying in!

The Ciragan Palace was once an Ottoman residence but burned down in 1910.
Recently it was restored by a hotel chain.
Presidents Clinton and Bush have both been guests.

 On the Asian side, this impressive building named Kuleli was built in the 1800s as an army barracks.  Nowadays, it's a military high school.

Back on the European side lies the Rumeli Fortress, 
built before the conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

At one point in our 1.5 hour journey, we were escorted by
these sweet dolphins much to all of our delight! 
A nice critter fix for me!

As we neared the Black Sea, we could feel the cool temperature change as the breeze picked up.
You can see some navigation markers due to dangerous hidden rocks that make navigation 
difficult.  It all felt so foreboding!

We arrived at our destination of Anadolu Kavagi on the Asian side 
and spent a little time exploring and enjoying a nice lunch on the water. 
 I have no idea who that man is in
the reflection but I like the reflection of the opposite shore.

The town was small and lazy and I couldn't resist including some animal critters.  As I mentioned before, many animals are homeless but it seems that somehow they find food.

Lorena J. Asp, a professor and has a blog called NU Journalism Abroad 2011, writes:
"Most practicing Muslims do not keep dogs as pets because they are generally considered unclean. Also, Muslims – who make up 99 percent of the population in Turkey – believe that angels will not visit a home that contains a dog. And finally, according to Sunni tradition – which accounts for 85 percent of the Muslim world – the prophet Muhammad reportedly did not like dogs, so people of that culture generally stay away from taking them in as pets."

"Yet, Islam instructs its followers to take care of all creatures, and so many people feel compelled to offer a bit of food, and fresh water, to the strays that live around the city."

 But still, for this girl, it was hard seeing some of these homeless creatures!

This white cat below was the strangest looking cat I have ever seen.
He/she looked like a lion!  Look at that tail!
Now that's cat with attitude!

A number of dogs had an ear tag which indicated that they had been neutered and released.
What a sweet smile this pup gave us!

Some of the local kids had fun jumping off the large boats that were docked.
One even scaled up the side of our boat
and jumped off the 3rd story deck!  Yowza!

Nearby, some men were mending fishing nets.

And, of course, yours truly couldn't resist snapping her own reflection!

As we returned to Istanbul later in the day, this was the scene that greeted us.
The city is so overwhelming, that you almost have
to view it from a distance to take in all of its beauty!

 Another post or two and I'll be wrapping up our visit.

It's been fun sharing with you 
and helpful for me to document all the places we visited.
That's what makes blogging so cool ... better than a diary!

Later, my friends,