Istanbul Part V: Bosphorus Smoshphorus I always say!

by Heidi Obermeyer

I’m on an America-themed music kick today. I’m listening to American Dream by Danielle Ate the Sandwich and Dom’s Living in America. Maybe it’s just a touch of homesickness rearing its ugly head, but I think this time it’s actually about how effortlessly cool America is. Berliners think they’re really cool, and some of them are, but you gotta admit- America has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes it super cool. If only that country-based coolness transferred to its citizens- then maybe I’d be able to wear high-waisted jean shorts and ironic t-shirts as well as these Berliners. Some days I swear I am not sure if the person in front of me on the train is 60 or 25 from the crazy thrift-store stuff people are wearing. But more Berlin info soon…. let’s wrap things up with Istanbul!

When I hear the word cruise, I think all-you-can-eat buffets and sketchy casinos. Luckily, the “Bosphorus cruise” and ferry rides that we took in Istanbul didn’t involve either of those things, but there were tea and simits (a seasame roll that’s similar to a bagel) available for next to nuffin’ on the boat. We had two water-related adventures in Istanbul- first, a Bosphorus cruise (mildly entertaining but an excellent break from walking around in the sun) and a trip to the Prince Islands (less than thrilling and I wouldn’t recommend a visit). The Bosphorus cruise is something that people (Uhhh… Derek, what people?  I don’t know! People who need help!) say is a *must* do in Istanbul. Whenever people tell me that, I can’t help but think of what Tina Fey wrote in Bossypants:

“When people say, “You really, really must” do something, it means you don’t really have to. No one ever says, “You really, really must deliver the baby during labor.” When it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said.”

I feel that way about visiting things. Maybe it’s just the rebel in me, but I am very skeptical of doing the one thing that lit-rally every other visitor to a place has also been told to do. It makes activities sound like they’re going to be crowded (hint: they usually are) and way less cool than you were led to think they would be.

Doing the Bosphorus cruise was definitely a good idea in that it a) got us off our feet for a few hours, and b) forced us to see greater Istanbul. That city is freakin’ HUGE! And tourists don’t usually leave the safety and plethora of things to do in Sultahnamet, which is actually a very small of part of modern-day Istanbul. I enjoyed the trip simply because I like being on boats (it’s a growing-up-landlocked person thing) and the GPS-based audio guide was kind of cool too (but cost extra).

The Prince Islands turned out to be… just weird. We ate some good ice cream and a cheesy, pastry concoction (see above) but the island we stopped on was pretty dirty and didn’t have much to do. We ended up walking for about an hour and then took a carriage ride back to the ferry (cars are banned on the island). You could tell that lots of the horses were Arabs, which was interesting from a horsey-person perspective, but lots of them were also obviously not well cared-for, which is a major downer while travelling.

And that about wraps it up for my Istanbul stories! I had a really wonderful time in the city and really enjoyed Turkey- I will definitely be returning at some point in the future. I am, however, glad that I was in Istanbul before all this protesting broke out! That would have been a scary thing to witness.

This weekend I’ve got a fun brunch on Sunday and hopefully a trip to the flea markets- I haven’t been for a month! There must be something new by now, right? Have a lovely weekend!