Layers upon layers of history crowd Istanbul’s teeming streets. Stories echo across bustling squares, clattering across cobblestone streets and winding down narrow alleyways. The whispers of empires long gone rustle through the leafy treetops and centuries of passage bounce across white-capped waves.
Istanbul is an incredible city, with an overwhelming list of sights to see and streets to wander. But armed with a ticket for a ferry ride up the Bosporus to the Black Sea (and little desire to revisit the bigger tourist attractions), I spent an overcast afternoon drinking in the city – crammed high rises, the suspended Bosphorus Bridges, old world mansions, forested cemeteries, stone forts, flags flying high – from the water.
And then I did the same thing from the saddle of a borrowed bicycle. After finding the bike shop down a side street to pump up the tyres and check the gears, I hit the start of a cycle lane near the ferry station in Kadıköy, on the Asian side of the city. The lane follows the coast and runs through manicured parks and past jam-packed marinas. I ended up about 15km down the drag before I decided to turn around and head back to Kadıköy, with stiffness and sunburn already setting in.
Walk across the Galata Bridge, connecting the Old City to Karaköy, and you’ll see dozens of fishermen, lines laid out over the water and their catches of tiny silver fish floating in buckets at their feet.
I love markets. Tell me about a fair, fete or market and I am there. Not to do much shopping mind you, but rather to marvel at the heaped varieties of nuts, succulent peaches and deep red cherries, fleshy olives, marvels of Turkish delight, scaly fish; and to make the acquaintance of stall owners, to ask a question, share a joke, sample a tasty something. Kadıköy’s fresh food market, down one pedestrian narrow street, is a constant delight.