Friday, February 4, 2011

Istanbul Top 10 (with 9 missing entries)

Over a month has elapsed since my Istanbul trip, and much water has flown under the Galata Bridge. But I thought the trip called for more than one throwaway post. And perhaps the delay is not such a big deal after all: Istanbul has never been a city in a hurry.

The plan was to do an Istanbul Top 10 post. Over the incredible period of one entire month, I made a list, added and deleted bits, reordered it, wrote and rewrote the entries, to the point where I was sick of looking at it. This morning, I decided to take drastic steps. I struck out all the bits I didn’t like, an exercise which left me with an Istanbul Top 10 with 9 missing entries. This, at least, can see the light of day.

2. The Bosphorus

If you stroll aimlessly around Istanbul, you gravitate involuntarily towards the Bosphorus or the Golden Horn – just as in south Bombay your wanderings lead you inevitably towards Marine Drive. As Lonely Planet puts it, “Divan Yolu and İstiklal Caddesi are always awash with people, but neither is the major thoroughfare in İstanbul. That honour goes to the mighty Bosphorus Strait.”

We spent many hours here – I suspect you could spend a lifetime and still not tire of it. We watched the anglers dangling their lines from the Galata bridge, ate grilled fish sandwiches on the waterfront, marvelled at Constantine’s sea walls and at the elegance of the yalıs – the old wooden mansions on the water’s edge. At Beşiktaş, we spotted jellyfish and bioluminescent life forms in the water (Phosphorus in the Bosphorus, I called it, and the Quaker winced).

But my most memorable Bosphorus experience was on the ferry ride which goes all the way up the strait – from the Sea of Marmara in the south to the Black Sea in the north, zigzagging between the European and Asian shores. There are short stretches where no houses, boats or other modern constructions meet the eye – all you see are waves and hills and seagulls and fog, and the view cannot be all that different from that which greeted Byzas and his men when they arrived in 667 B.C. to found a tiny trading colony called Byzantium. Or, if you believe in the old stories, from what Jason and the Argonauts saw on their quest for the Golden Fleece.

8 comments:

Rahul Saha said...

"This morning, I decided to take drastic steps. I struck out all the bits I didn’t like, an exercise which left me with an Istanbul Top 10 with 9 missing entries."

- It is such laziness which leads to the loss of a loyal readership.

Aditi said...

Noctiluca scintillans?

Ravis said...

I disgree, Mr. Saha. Loyal readers tend to come back every now and then and check if the list is complete.

Indecision Personified said...

I want the other 9 entries. I want the other 9 entries. I want the other 9 entries. I want the other 9 entries. I want the other 9 entries. Quick! quick!

Ravis said...

I want the other 9 entries. I want the other 9 entries. I want the other 9 entries. I want the other 9 entries. I want the other 9 entries.

I want the other 9 entries.
I want the other 9 entries.
I want the other 9 entries.
I want the other 9 entries.

Sowmya Rao said...

yes, same as above.

Spin said...

Lovely. What lovely names, Sea of Marmara.

Sroyon said...

@Saha: On the contrary, the other entries would lead to the loss of my readership, loyal or otherwise.

@Aditi: Who knowsintillans?

@Ravis, IP & Sowmya: Be grateful that you didn't have to read those.

@Spin: Interestingly, Istanbul #6 was Place Names.