View of the Golden Horn from the Pierre Loti viewpoint, which takes its name from the pen-name of Julien Viaud, a French naval officer and writer who fell in love with Istanbul. The Golden Horn is an inlet of the Bosphorus, forming a great natural harbor behind which lies Old Istanbul – one of the world’s largest cities when it was founded.
Istanbul – Been There

Ferry ride to another world

Photo by Ton Koene

Istanbul – Been There Ferry ride to another world

It’s a short ferry crossing from Europe to Asia across the Bosphorus in Istanbul. The city’s ferries predate the first bridge by more than a century and remain a vital transport link.

Kieran Meeke
Kieran Meeke Travel Writer

Some 300,000 commuters cross this channel every working day and the berthing is a well-practiced routine. A crewman lassoes a bollard and the boat shudders, refusing briefly then surrendering to the pull of the land. Gangplanks bang down and we are ashore.

I walk across the docks into Haydarpaşa Station, built in a severely Teutonic German style in 1908 and the terminal for all trains from Asia. While Sirkeci Station on the European side, famously the terminal for the Orient Express, conjures up the exotic east with its design, this station on the Asian side is an image of Western efficiency. Rail travel may not have the romance it once did but I cannot resist a moment to daydream about boarding a train here bound for Baghdad or Damascus. A dream it must remain for now, as the track is closed while being upgraded for high-speed rail.

What remains, though, is Bağdat (Baghdad) Avenue, a reminder that Turkey is bordered by Iraq, as well as Syria, Iran, Georgia, Nakhchivan (Azerbaijan) and Armenia on this side. Greece and Bulgaria are its European neighbors. It’s a wide boulevard lined with familiar international fashion brands and local designer labels, shopping malls, department stores and chic cafes and restaurants.

Thronged with men and women wearing the latest fashions and sporting the latest accessories from cell phones to fast cars, it has been ranked the world’s third-best shopping street. The energy, wealth and wide range of people and faces remind me of Napoleon’s saying: “If the Earth was a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.”

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Istanbul’s city planners have struggled to keep pace with development, especially after World War II when high land prices forced middle-class owners to band together to buy building plots. These small developers then constructed apartment blocks, profiting from the extra homes in a ‘build-and-sell’ (yapsatçı) strategy. Photo by Ton Koene

Ton Koene

Ton Koene

Canon EOS 5D-II

Aperture
ƒ/5.6
Exposure
1/100
ISO
200
Focal
300 mm

Istanbul’s city planners have struggled to keep pace with development, especially after World War II when high land prices forced middle-class owners to band together to buy building plots. These small developers then constructed apartment blocks, profiting from the extra homes in a ‘build-and-sell’ (yapsatçı) strategy.

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