We allowed ourselves a little lie-in before enjoying a leisurely breakfast in the Holiday Inn’s restaurant. Feeling suitably energised we were then ready to set off by 9.45 a.m. starting the day by strolling along to the nearest tram stop, about ten minutes walk away. It was the hottest day so far with the sun already beating down on us so early in the day. As usual, the tram was crowded with people pushing their way on board before allowing others to get off first. We stood near the door, hanging onto a pole to balance ourselves until we managed to get a couple of seats a few stops further down the line.
On reaching our destination at the Eminonu ferry terminal we walked across to the Kadikoy ferry pier where a large ferry was already loading. Passengers are able to use their travel cards on commuter ferries and passing through the turnstiles we noted the fare was only 1.95 TL (26p) for the 20 minute journey across the Bosphorus. The ferries are huge and as most passengers seemed to be travelling in the opposite direction there was a good choice of seats.
We decided to sit on the upper deck facing towards Asia enabling us enjoy the best views as we approached the Asian side of Istanbul. Although it was hot, it was decidedly breezy on board the ferry and I was glad that I had brought along a thin cardigan which I pulled out of my bag, to offer some protection from the wind and to keep the sun off my arms.
Our bargain ferry crossing had been excellent and there seemed little point in paying considerably more to make the journey on one of the many cruise boats as the only difference seemed to be a commentary. On alighting the ferry we wandered through the small waterfront market. Only a few stalls were operating but I gather a much larger market takes place there each Tuesday.
Kadikoy is an historic, harbourside district of Istanbul and has been a port since the Byzantine era. It’s now evolved into a lively waterfront lined with shops, cafes, art galleries and hipster bars just perfect for a gentle wander. We then made our way slightly inland through a maze of narrow streets lined with shops with familiar high street names that we find at home and despite now being in Asia it actually felt more European in this part of the city.
Our window shopping over, we returned to the waterfront and located a tram stop for the heritage Line 3 tram which soon came into view. Once again, we were able to pay using our travel pass before sitting down on one of the small varnished wooden seats. This tram takes a circular route and only runs in one direction so passengers can remain on board taking in the passing sights from the tram windows before alighting back at their starting point.
Rather than doing this, we decided instead to alight at Moda from where it was only a short walk to the waterfront. Along this tree lined promenade we enjoyed a stroll by the more peaceful side of the Bosphorus.
A little further along and we came across an open-air tea garden, seemingly popular with locals and known as the Moda Cay Bahcesi. It was a delightful place to relax, sitting under the shade of some large trees on the cliff top overlooking the Sea of Marmara to the west of the Bosphorus.
From the cafe we had noticed a set of stone steps winding its way down the cliff side so we decided to follow this path. The steps were in need of some essential maintenance and even lacked handrails in places but slowly and surely we made it in one piece to the lower promenade which was almost deserted save for the occasional dog walker and jogger. When the path came to an abrupt end we mounted another set of steps which I’m pleased to report, were in a much better condition and even had handrails.
We then returned to the centre of Kadikoy, our stroll taking approximately 30 minutes from the Moda tram stop, excluding stops along the way. We returned to Eminonu in the European part of the city and transferred to the always crowded Tram Line 1 to take us back to the hotel for a rest and a relaxing sauna. The Turkish Bath hadn’t seemed very warm on other days so we preferred to just use the sauna instead and again enjoyed the luxury of having sole use of it as no-one else was around.
A little later, after sipping refreshing glasses of beer, we caught the metro to Sishane but somehow managed to leave at the wrong exit which caused us to walk up a steep hill to the main shopping street.
As with the previous evening, the Taksim neighbourhood was buzzing with activity with what seemed like the entire city out for an evening stroll and a spot of shopping. Noticing a smart restaurant with a semi-enclosed roof terrace, we wandered inside and were shown to a corner table offering a bird’s eye view of all the comings and goings of the bustling street scene below. We shared two authentic Turkish dishes which were again delicately spiced and served with a basket of flatbread.
To walk off our meal, we continued along to Taksim Square and took the metro back to the hotel from there. The end of another enjoyable day exploring Istanbul.
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