This morning we ate a rather sad included breakfast at Hotel Antioch before heading out to explore Istanbul for one last day.
Our first stop was to board a Bosphorous cruise (public boat, one-way) at Eminonu port, Bogaz Iskelesi terminal. We followed the Rick Steves’ Bosphorous tour along the route before getting off at Sariyer.
At Sariyer we exited the Bosphorous cruise to return overland via bus to Rumeli Fortress. We ran into a family along the way that was also from America. The younger part of the family is living in Ankara now and the wife is one year into a three-year stint teaching at a local university in Ankara. Her parents were in Turkey visiting, so they were starting their Turkey tour in Istanbul. They had also gotten off of the ferry at Sariyer and were also going to Rumeli Fortress.
We enjoyed wandering around Rumeli Fortress, and highly recommend it to anyone who is not afraid of heights and drop-offs! While there, we met a couple of Turkish workers (gardener and security) who were very glad to meet us and practice their English. The gardener had excellent English, especially considering that he had taught himself! Unfortunately, the conversations dragged on and we were not able to spend all the time we wanted there before needing to leave.
We had a 3pm appointment to meet Baris at Bogazici University to pick up the robots, and we arrived just on time. Heavy-laden with many bags, we took a taksi back across town to Hotel Antioch. The taksi fare was shockingly only 22 TL (about US$14).
After dropping the bags in our room at Hotel Antioch, we headed to the Maiden’s Tower. Still having not ate a meal since breakfast, we were hungry but looking forward to eating at the tower – as we had read about online. We took the tramvay from Sirkeci to the end of the line at Kabatas. The crowds were pretty big around the ferry port, and we suffered through them to find the right dock. We got the second-to-last boat (TL7/person) to Maiden’s Tower leaving at 5 pm. The ferry ride was interesting, as our small boat rocked mightily in the rough waters of the Bosphorous River.
Once on the island for Maiden’s Tower, we did not want to settle for the café at the bottom of the tower, since it had no views. We climbed to the top to see if there was a café up there, and found a bar. The bar served all types of drinks, but sadly no food or snacks. We decided the views were worth not eating, so we enjoyed two Efes beers (Light for Katie and Dark for JT) and enjoyed the view. JT was especially amused by the seagulls fighting to fly against the strong wind. We headed down a few minutes before the last ferry back to the shore departed at 6:45pm.
Once back on the mainland, we took the funicular up to Taksim Square and found a pudding restaurant – Taksim Sutis – recommended in the Rick Steves’ book. We enjoyed a tavuk gogusu – a pudding made with (invisible) shredded chicken – and a cheese pide. This did not seem to be on the English menu (probably for obvious reasons), but we knew about it from the RS book.
After dinner, we walked down an absolutely packed Istiklal Street and picked up some heavy lokum (Turkish Delight) and helva along the way. On the so-marked “tourist alley”, we found a cat who looked a lot like Grace sleeping by a closed shop. To get a better look at ‘Turkish Grace’, we pulled out the cat treats that we had bought and woke up the happily sleeping cat. Sure enough, it bore a very-close resemblance to Grace!
Having saved a couple sets of coins (.05, .10, .25, .50, 1), we tried to spend our remaining money along the street. After Katie finally found a t-shirt that she wanted, we were down to 7 lira and headed towards the hotel – skipping the TL2.50person funicular ride in order to save money. On the steep walk down, we got to see the lit-up Galata Tower up-close. We also ran across more kittens that we fed most of our remaining cat treats to – drawing some happy-seeming looks from locals.
Once back across the Galata bridge, we grabbed a water (1TL at the place we had now frequented 3 times) and headed up to our room to pack. We packed, showered, set the alarm for 3.5 hours later (11:30 pm to 3 am) and went to bed for a short sleep.