What does five Lira get you these days?
A Lira can buy you a simit (Turkish round sesame bread). But, a fiver will get you a fortress.
On any day of the week, except Wednesday, the small, slightly purple bank note will grant you entrance into a 15th century castle at Rumeli Hisarı, just under the 2nd Bridge on the European side of Istanbul.
What to do from there?
Directions for this walking tour couldn’t be easier. Start at the second bridge. Finish at the first.
But our journey between is not a monotonous line.
The Bosphorous is a water flow that twists, bends and snakes its way to the Black Sea with conflicting, squirming currents that are as wild and deadly as a pit of cobras.
But, for pedestrians, an esplanade conveniently worms its way beside this so-called Bosphorous snake pit.
The first town to land at your feet is Bebek (baby).
This baby must come from family money because BMW’s, Mercedes and other luxury wheels line the sidewalk.
Here the Istanbul elite casually wine and dine the afternoon away.
But, if you have at-least a ten in your wallet, this bank note can get you a table with an uninterrupted Bosphorous view. You just have to order a Starbucks coffee and walk through to the waterfront jetty.
After Bebek comes Arnavutköy.
Arnavutköy is a village with houses and apartment buildings from Istanbul’s forgotten years.
Some continue to crumble over time while others have had an overdue facelift. Needless, both the rejuvenated and the age wrinkled house facades give Arnavutköy its current identity.
It is a charming promenade with the charisma of an elderly gentleman who chooses to still wear his now oversized and out of date wedding suit.
A short distance after is Kuruçeşme.
Kuruçeşme faces the man built island called ‘Su Ada’. An island that is nestled between two continents.
Perhaps on a different day, when you aren’t out walking, you should return. Come at night when you are wearing heels rather than joggers, or a dinner jacket not a sunhat. A boat delivers you from the park of Kuruçeşme to the dock of Su Ada and its many restaurants await within.
But, get your legs moving again and keep walking. Leave thoughts of Su Ada until you have showered and changed outfits.
Continue on the tour. The first bridge will be sneaking peeks at you as the esplanade curves in and out as you visit each town.
After Kuruçeşme, the bridge will loom over you like a schoolyard bully demanding your lunch money.
Simply walk underneath and head towards Ortaköy, the town just after, and if you still have your lunch money safely in your pocket why not enjoy a baked potato from the famous potato stands.
In Ortaköy simply stroll the lane-ways filled with jewellery markets then sit and admire the most hunted view in Istanbul; the newly renovated mosque along the water against the backdrop of the bridge.
Your bridge to bridge is now complete.
Written by Sheldon Heyes
Have you read this then mastered the bridge to bridge? Describe your Bosphorous experience in the comment section below.
You may also enjoy reading “Kuzguncuk“. Find this rare little gem of a village, then explore the Asian side Bosphorous esplanade.