City on foot – well, not really

Before sunrise, I was up and gone, hoping to catch one of those ‘golden moments’ as the sun rose on a city – glancing off the landmarks, highlighting the edges of ferries, adding a glow to monuments and lighting the faces of fishermen on the Galata bridge.  In search of the elusive golden shot, I walked passed the Gulhane Park down to Eminonu, along the waterfront to Galata bridge, up the hill past the Galata tower, on to Taksim square and down to near Kabatas.

There were a few moments when I thought I might have captured the image I wanted but in retrospect, they don’t do justice to the sound and smell of a waking city.  The fires to cook the chestnuts hadn’t been started yet, the bridge fishermen were still asleep on the Galata bridge, a beggar walked behind me cursing my lack of generosity for 50 metres, the Galata Tower lights went off as I arrived, Iskidal Caddesi was a very undistinguished sight – rubbish, broken bottles, drunks, cleaners hosing the street, Taksim square looked like the day after a natural disaster – nearly empty, pigeons and cats taking over, people wandering around listlessly.  There was even one guy attracting a lot of attention because he was hanging off a bridge over the highway underpass – one buttock on the concrete, the other threatening to take its leave.  A posse of onlookers had collected, the police had arrived and ambulances were coming up the hill.  I walked away not wanting to see or hear him fall the thirty feet or so onto the roadway.

I walked down the hill toward the Bosphorus through backstreets and side alleys with their 6-8 storey apartments, cobbled laneways and glimpses of the Bosphorus down to Findikli tram stop and – with the smell of breakfast in my nostrils – caught the tram back to Sultanahmet.

This afternoon, I went back to Kabatas (by tram) and walked out to Ortakoy under the Bosphorus bridge (b.1963?) to the ‘craft market’ – a bit of a rag tag collection of retailers selling lace, beads, rings and toys.  Interesting but not exciting.  On the way I walked uphill from the Dolmabahce Palace around the lovely green gardens known as Yildiz Park, past its concrete kangaroos with flower pot pouches (!), past a dozen wedding shoots, picnics, red squirrels and the tearooms and back down to the Bosphorus.

Finally made it to Ortakoy, watched people and scenes for an hour, had a (expensive) baked spud filled with a dozen mixtures of whatever I wanted from a range of peas, corn, cabbage, sausage, sauces, couscous, olives, spices, yoghurt, mayonnaise, sauce, Russian salad and a smile at my attempt to thank them in Turkish.

It reached 30 degrees C today (with some light rain) so drinks were in order from one of the many vendors squeezing anything they can into such small shops. (0.75Tl in shops, 0.5Tl on the street) Against my better judgment (am I not in charge of myself?), I kept on walking back along the shore, all the way back across the Galata bridge, round to Kennedy Caddesi and up through the Topkapi gardens to Gulhane and eventually Sultanahmet. Adding these two walks together amounts to about 20 kilometres uphill and down dale.  An interesting day but probably not best done all on foot.

Hoping to make it to The Princes Islands tomorrow – an hour by ferry from Kabatas.  I won’t be doing it all by foot.