Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Istanbul, the Asian Side

Want a boat tour down the Bosphorus River?  The options are endless!  1 hour?  How about 3?  Wanna pay 100tl?  How about 200tl and eat on the boat?  So many choices and so many people trying to talk you into their boat and their deal.  How do you choose?
For us, it was simple (well, after we did lots of listening to pitches and debating it became simple), what would be best for the kids.  A three hour boat ride might be fun for Owen but the other two kids would start getting antsy 10 minutes into the trip.  A ride with no stops defeated our purpose of wanting to set foot on the Asian side.  A ride with a 3 hour stop seemed like too much to be forced into.
Best option?  Take the boat "taxi" that stops at a main port on the Asian side, Üsküdar, and when we are done looking around we can go back when we are ready.  Not only would the 15 minute boat ride be perfect for the kids, it cost 3tl per person instead of 100tl per person!!! 
The thing is, the boat sales men stand outside the boat taxi entrance and try to sell you tickets so you don't even know you have any other option than a tour.  We got lucky and while we were standing in line the other day to go to the Hagia Sophia and people were trying to sell us a boat tour someone behind us in line told us of the taxi so we knew that was an option!

Maiden's Tower-
There are many legends about the construction of the tower and its location. According to the most popular Turkish legend, an emperor had a much beloved daughter and one day, an oracle prophesied that she would be killed by a venomous snake on her 18th birthday. The emperor, in an effort to thwart his daughter's early demise by placing her away from land so as to keep her away from any snakes, had the tower built in the middle of the Bosphorus to protect his daughter until her 18th birthday. The princess was placed in the tower, where she was frequently visited only by her father.
On the 18th birthday of the princess, the emperor brought her a basket of exotic sumptuous fruits as a birthday gift, delighted that he was able to prevent the prophecy. Upon reaching into the basket, however, an asp that had been hiding among the fruit bit the young princess and she died in her father's arms, just as the oracle had predicted. Hence the name Maiden's Tower.
Asian side
Love this trio!!!  So glad we could all be together to celebrate Nina's 60th birthday (that actually occurred 3 weeks later but this trip was her present)

Cite seeing at an old mosque and its grave yard along the river.
We did a lot of walking along the riverside and then decided to take a detour in and go up a random street.  There wasn't a huge tourist area outside of the river's area that we could find but we eventually started walking back towards the water and found this market to walk through.
Fresh fish everywhere and Owen was a little obsessed!!!
Can we pick out a fish???
So many things for sale, like Addyson's new flower headband.  Corn in a cup is also a popular snack.
While everyone else snacked, Brad, dad, and I opted for a yummy lamb meal.  Owen also talked Nina into going back into the market with him and buying fish!
The Asian side was good to see.  Much more conservative (no beer in any restaurant) and not a lot to do.  I'm glad we just spent a couple of hours here and didn't plan a whole day around it.  Good to do, and good to go back to the other side.
To get back to the European side we took the Marmaray back.  The Marmaray is a rail system that has an underwater portion that goes under the Bosphorus river.  My dad had watched a special about the building of the under water system so he really wanted to take a ride on it.  The children were excited until they realized we were just in a tunnel and couldn't see anything.  I think they were hoping to see some fish or something.  No fish, but a good story!

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