For a visitor, it can seem you have to leave Istanbul to see it. Looking back across the Galata Bridge at sunset, the city’s most glorious sights are laid out before me.
Lit up in the darkening sky are the minarets of the mosque of Suleymaniye the Magnificent; the Topkapi Palace dominating Seraglio Point; and the soaring domes of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
This familiar cityscape is ignored by the fishermen who line the bridge, their long fishing rods fixed onto the parapet with a homemade wood and bungee cord rest.
A myriad of lines hang into the water from those arches not in use by the constant bustling stream of ferries that churn the muddy river far below.
Patience is a virtue for any angler and I see a lot of chatting and little real fishing action. That may be as well: I am not sure I would want to eat anything caught in the murky harbor of the Golden Horn, even if the Turks call it “the Sweet Waters of Europe”.
The name is a reminder I have not even left the European side of Istanbul. The world’s only city to straddle two continents, its Asia part twinkles in the distance across the wide waters of the Bosphorus.
For now, it’s time to make my way to the bridge’s lower deck and find space in a restaurant. They are a traditional place to eat balık-ekmek, grilled fish in a bread sandwich served with lettuce, tomato and onion salad. Hopefully the fish is caught somewhere else along Turkey’s long and beautiful Mediterranean coastline.