Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sails, Seagulls and Serene Saturdays

After a week of haggling in the Grand bazaar, weaving through heavy city traffic and packed tram rides, our group finally got to get onto one of the ships that we had eyed at the docks of Eminönü. As we sat down on one side of the boat (the side with the best view), with the breeze in our hair and beautiful scenery in front of us, we were ready to sail toward Asia.

On our way to our destination we passed several boats, a couple of islands but only one region that looked like a slum. As soon as I saw the background change from colorful buildings to a more dull area with several makeshift houses, I couldn’t help but zoom in as much as I could with my camera to get a better look. It looked like people lived in these small huts and serviced boats for a living. Since I have been in Istanbul I have seen the occasional beggar here and there, but what I haven’t seen are slums or anything that could indicate poverty. I was surprised to see this small shanty area, barely noticeable if you looked away, tucked in one side on the Bosphorus. When I saw this I realized that I had only seen the nice, gift-wrapped version of Istanbul. In my next two weeks here I hope to explore the other, low-key side of this city.

We reached the village of Anadolu Kavaği exactly as our stomachs began to grumble for food. Waiters from different restaurants approached us with their menus and ‘special price just for you’ offers. A couple of us sat down in a restaurant that overlooked the Bosphorus. We were given a menu in four languages and shown trays full of fresh fish and Turkish seafood dishes to help us decide what we wanted to eat. 

After a great lunch (with a great discount) we each got homemade Turkish ice cream to cool us down from the summer heat. Holding a half melting ice creams we wandered around – deeper into the village.

Once we moved from the 100 meters of touristy shops and restaurants, we saw a different picture- there were many tiny, cute houses, a billion cats (like everywhere in Istanbul) and people seemed to lead a more laid back life style compared to the life style in the city.

At around 2:30pm, it was time to get back; we parted with this delightful village and headed back to the kaleidoscopic mainland.
The quiet, peaceful ride back was perfect for a siesta – some habits acquired in Rome are simply too hard to let go of. 

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