Turkey is one of the luckiest countries being one that sits directly between Europe and Asia. Not only does Turkey have one of the richest history’s on land, it is also home to four of the most remarkable seas; the Black sea, Mediterranean, Aegean and the Marmara. This area is geographically known as the Bosphorus, as it links the Black sea and sea of Marmara, which inevitably connects to the Aegan and Mediterranean. Although it is not known scientifically how these seas were formed or linked in such a way, it is clear that its formation has benefitted the tourism of Istanbul enormously. As stated before, Turkey is home to a variety of palaces, mosques and museums, each rich with their own stories to tell.
During our final days in Istanbul, we had the pleasure of sailing across the Bosphorus, viewing the remarkable landmarks while feeling the crisp sea atmosphere. These cruises are an inexpensive way of winding down the week. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of going through our hotel to book this so it did cost us more than it should have. The basic ferry journey costs approximately 12 Turkish Lira, depending on which cruise you take, as there are a lot of options.
So let me break down a few tips on the actual tour itself and what to do in advance of booking.
1. Book in advance either online or if you’re booking on the day DO NOT book through the hotel as chances are you could get ripped off.
2. Research the weather. The whole point of the cruise is to enjoy the views of Istanbul while there’s some sun or at least clear skies. Pick a day and time which won’t be at risk of a storm or a slight chance of rain.
3. Don’t accept any food items. Now unless you’ve gone full brown and brought your own snacks then I wouldn’t recommend agreeing to any vendor that offers you snacks or tea. It is NOT complimentary and they will charge you one way or another. They’re very enthusiastic sales men so be polite but get to the point that you’re not going to purchase.
4. Carry sunnies or hats. We carried out the cruise on a beautiful day, however, the sun was still harsh so be sure to keep your sunscreen and sunnies on!
One more thing: do not feel disheartened if you haven’t read about the different sites you view along your way. There is actually an automated guide on the ferries that give a little background history to each landmark.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque or Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Turkish: Sultan Ahmet Camii) is a historic mosque located in Istanbul. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque continues to function as a mosque today; men still kneel in prayer on the mosque’s lush red carpet after the call to prayer. The Blue Mosque, as it is popularly known, was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains Ahmed’s tomb, a madrasah and a hospice. Hand-painted blue tiles adorn the mosque’s interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes. It sits next to the Hagia Sophia, another popular tourist site. We actually had the privilege of praying our salaah in the mosque and after my Umrah journey, it was a second spiritually beautiful experience.
The Topkapı Palace (Turkish: Topkapı Sarayı or in Ottoman Turkish: طوپقپو سرايى, Ṭopḳapu Sarāyı), or the Seraglio, is a large museum in Istanbul. In the 15th century, it served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans. The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. Female members of the Sultan’s family lived in the harem, and leading state officials, including the Grand vizier, held meetings in the Imperial Council building.
As a massive palace, I would definitely advise getting a tour guide explain the geography of the landmark as it can be quite intimidating. The best part for me was having the opportunity to view the holy Islamic relics such as our Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) beard, tooth, the body armour worn by old Islamic soldiers as well as other important relics. Unfortunately, due to its importance they don’t allow any images to be taken but I did manage to get a few pictures in and around the areas I was allowed to.