The Bosphorus Ferry

For a couple of weeks now I have been meaning to post these images from a ferry ride up the Bosphorus – there are plenty of sight-seeing trips you can book, to explore Istanbul from the water, but the ferry is the simplest and most affordable, offering a two-hour round-trip from Eminonu by the Galata Bridge for a really quite nominal sum.

But February was a crazy month, and there will be not much let-up until May, at least. Time and energy to catch up with this blog have been a little lacking, and besides, what little time and energy I have been able to muster has gone, instead, into setting up an account on Flickr and figuring out how to set up the right kind of albums to display my photographs.

Here is a link, by the way – please do head on over to Flickr and take a look – even better, sign up to ‘follow’ and receive my updates 🙂

The fact is, I have been looking for some time for the right platform to exhibit my photographs – more and more, I am drawn to photography as a means of discovery and expression – and Flickr seems to be the right jumping-off point to try and build a bit more of a profile as a photographer, and hopefully achieve a bit more exposure than has been possible with this blog.

The blog takes time to write, when sometimes all I want to do is display my photographs. But it serves a different purpose – not so much of getting my words out to the universe (who wants to read the ramblings of some old dude anyway) but to friends and family, and a few brave souls (thank you all!) who take the time to follow my meanderings.

The waters of the Bosphorus are crazy busy!

So, with all that said, back to the ferry!

It’s a great trip, zig-zagging from one bank of the Bosphorus to the other, passing by palaces and villages, offering intimate glimpses of local lives and local places, all unperturbed by the huge cargo ships ploughing their way north, or the busy fleets of smaller craft zipping along the shore. A study in contrasts, too, the ancient and historical framed by the soaring construct of the Bosphorus Bridge suspended across the water.

As always, click on the images to enlarge, and then scroll through.

On the return leg, you head toward the mouth of the Bosphorus again, and you see the beautiful Leander’s Tower in the middle of the channel, and a huge vessel bearing down at speed upon you…. Time to head back to shore, and the steep climb up the hill to the hotel.

Istanbul Lokanta

The lokanta is the place to eat, if you are an ordinary citizen of Istanbul, looking for something affordable, delicious, and nourishing to fill your tummy and keep you going.

Rob and I popped into our neighbourhood lokanta one evening, and were not disappointed. And boy, do those cooks and servers work hard!

The Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

The Basilica Cistern in Istanbul is an underground wonder, an engineering marvel, dating back to the 6th century.

Guidebook photographs show serried columns eerily surrounded by water, echoed in their watery reflections. The water had been drained, unfortunately, when we were there, for repairs, so some of the magic was missing, at least to my eyes, but the place was impressive, nonetheless, a kind of netherworld, the sort of place you imagine might be a crossing-point to the world beyond this one.

A solitary oarsman emerging out of the gloom, offering to transport you across.

A little girl and boy chatter away, oblivious to the grandeur of the Hagia Sophia

My post last week tried to show something of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul – a glimpse, I hope, of more than just appearances – what does this look like? – but photographs that, perhaps, maybe, if I am lucky, encourage us to ask, what does this mean, what does it represent, what does it say to us?

In this black-and-white image, however, it is not the Hagia Sophia that speaks to us, it is a little girl and a boy, chattering happily away, not overawed at all, scarcely aware of the architecture, the monumental grandeur, the weight of religion and history even as, off to their left, a woman with her hair covered reads what might be a Koran or religious text.

It’s one of my favourite images of the Hagia Sophia, perhaps because it brings it all down to the human scale, the intimacy of the moment, reminds us that, without these children there, all this magnificence is just a heap of stone.

A little girl and boy chatter away in the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

The Hagia Sofia in Istanbul is difficult to grasp, in its sprawling immensity, its architectural grandeur, its layered complexity. You think to yourself, as you look about, at its enormous dome, its towering columns, this place is more than 1400 years old – and where was Europe, back in the fifth century?

Like the great mosque-cathedrals that we saw in Spain, in Sevilla and Cordoba, the structure has metaphorphosed over the centuries – church becoming mosque and mosque becoming church, except here, in Istanbul, at the gateway between Europe and Asia, the trajectory is the opposite, with the mosque ascendant.

It’s simply impossible, to absorb it all or even a small part of it in one short visit, and just a few photographs. So here are glimpses, impressions, almost at random. But enough, I hope, to whet your appetite.

And finally, a more meditative moment….