This post is part 14 of 17 of my trip to Istanbul. The series intends to give more than just a I-saw-this-and-did-that review. It aims to share the voice inside my head as I explore a world I’ve only read in books.
After watching the street music performance near The Galata Tower, JC and I strolled over the Galata Bridge just in time to catch the sun set behind the Istanbul skyline. It was dusk by the time we arrived at Eminonu and since it was still early, JC and I decided to take a ferry to Uskudar for 1.5 lira. When we landed on the Anatolian shore of the Bosporus River, there was a massive line snaked around the dock. We followed it all the way to the beginning and discovered that everyone was lined up waiting to be served their first meal of the day on Ramadan.
JC and I walked to a small square near the dock. Uskudar is a very residential district. Many of the people here are locals who commute to Eminonu for work. There is a large population of university students and retirees. We were people-watching as night fell and it was quite interesting to see how Ramadan is observed in public. When the mosques began to chant, everyone around us began to rustle through their plastic bags.
The pot-bellied middle-aged man to our left pulled out a plastic container of water and drank it in one gulp. A couple each pulled out their sandwiches and tore through the plastic. A guy from across the courtyard lit a cigarette and finished it in four puffs. A little girl flew by carrying a dish of food and then the lights came on at the mosque sitting right in front of us.
The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque is one of Uskudar’s most famous landmarks. It was one of the first two mosques designed by Mimar Sinan and built my Mihrimah Sultana, the daughter of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. JC readily identified the mosque because of its Sinan-esque features. The mosque had several of his signature styles. We stared at the mosque in awe because when the lights lit up it looked magical, like it was straight out of a story book.
The ferry ride back was definitely a pleasant surprise as well. I was expecting to board onto the same worn down wooden ferry boat that we arrived in. But instead a 5-star cruise liner pulled up to the dock. The cruise boat came with beige leather seats, shiny marble furniture and large flat screen TVs! We paid the same amount for this ride – 1.5 lira. Talk about getting my money’s worth. 1.5 lira is about $1 USD.