At exactly this time last year, we had just arrived in Istanbul and were walking down Istiklal Caddesi, heading towards Sultanahmet, after being dropped off by our service bus in Taksim Square. It had been a few years since we had last been to Istanbul and, despite a long bus journey with fitful sleep, we were both bursting with excitement at being back.
If you read Turkey’s For Life a lot, you’ll know we returned to Istanbul again last October. Taking part in the 8km and 15km runs in the Istanbul Eurasia Marathon gave us the perfect excuse to justify two visits in one year and you might be guessing now that this little 12 month anniversary is again raising the longing to to be immersed in all that is Istanbul. We’re patient; we can wait.
It’s not until I see the Bosphorus ferries that I feel I’ve arrived in Istanbul. At the mention of Istanbul, many people think of Sultanahmet Camii (The Blue Mosque), Aya Sofya, Kapalı Çarşı (The Grand Bazaar). For me, it’s the Bosphorus ferries, providing crucial links between different areas of the city, between the European and the Asian coastline.
The first time we ever went to Istanbul, I remember standing on the bridge in Eminönü, mesmerised by the number of ferries, car ferries and sea buses pulling into and leaving the various jetties. Hundreds of people, jostling each other, trying to purchase tickets for their boat, hundreds more piling off the boats having arrived in Eminönü, turnstiles clanking, ticket machines bleeping, car horns beeping and the sounding of the horns from the ferries. For me, that’s Istanbul.