Memoirs of a City

Tales from an Istanbul city ferry

Ferry view Memoirs of a City













The centre of Istanbul, the heart of the city. No traffic jams, no buildings, a 360-degree sea view, a fresh breeze and tea served on call.

With a population climbing towards 15 million, how is this possible? Where can you find it?!

The impossible dream is not hidden in any Istanbul backstreet. Seek water and you shall find.

From the Bosphorous catch a ferry from any of the following European piers – Eminönü, Karaköy, Kabataş or Beşiktaş, and take the journey across to Asia – Kadıköy.

Ogle the city’s monuments from afar. No doubt the entry ticket stubs are still in your pocket from seeing them up-close.

Sit on the open-air rooftop with a tea in hand and be ready to inhale the stories of Istanbul. After all, Istanbul is like a book. And while on the ferry, the book opens and you feel like you have found the centre of the universe, even though you are merely between continents.

In that very moment when you are in the middle of the Bosphorous, in every direction you see a different story.

Turn the pages slowly and enjoy Istanbul’s past and present.

Page 1 *

pic 3 298x300 Memoirs of a CityAll of Istanbul’s ‘must see’ icons are insight. The Blue Mosque, Saint Sophia and Topkapı Palace sit on the nose of Istanbul’s old town.

They are an introduction to Istanbul. It is a place where many civilisations thrived and then perished. It also speaks of Ottoman Sultans as well as the birth, life and death of an empire.

 Page 2 *

Galata tower pic 300x300 Memoirs of a CityGalata Tower juts-out of the Taksım hillside.

This story has many chapters depending on the century you are reading. It tells of prison inmates locked away, of aviation’s first leap with artificial wings, of fire wardens on duty and now of eager tourists swiping at smart phones uploading to Instagram.

Page 3 *

IMG 5777 e1414061951770 300x281 Memoirs of a CityDolmabahçe Palace rests on the waterside.

A 19th century palace where every clock reads 9.05am, a mark of honour for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic and his last breath taken in this palace on the 10th of November 1938.

Page 4 *

pic 2 297x300 Memoirs of a City

The Maiden’s Tower that, when you are on the ferry, shares your central vantage point at the liquid heart of the city.

This tower is believed to date as far back as 400 BC. History speaks of a tax collection point for passing ships, a strategic defense tower and even a cholera quarantine hospital. But, legends also whisper of a mystic who predicted the death of the King’s daughter. As a protection device the King locked his daughter in the tower. But perhaps one cannot escape fate, as legend says a fruit basket was delivered and a snake hiding within bit the daughter.

Page 5 *

bridge 300x298 Memoirs of a CityThe Bosphorous Bridge joins the two lands, Europe and Asia.

The bridge is a 24 hour spectacle. In daylight it is architecturally grand and at night its lights dance to the rhythm of the city.

This is the Book of Istanbul. Take a seat, order a tea and read it. Then read it again. It is possibly the greatest memoir ever told.

Written by Sheldon Heyes

Have you read this then shared a tea on a ferry with one of the greatest views of any city? What did you think? Comment below

About Sheldon Heyes
Lifestyle writer for Turkey - I will prepare you for Istanbul. I will show you my city. Stemming from an Australian media background I have been in Istanbul since 2012. With a foreign heart and a writer's pen I have since embraced, danced, swallowed and mumbled the Turkish culture, music, food and language. Currently - Read by thousands of passengers zooming across the globe at 38,000 feet with Turkish Airlines inflight magazine 'Skylife'. Freelance contributor at The Guide Istanbul Magazine. Online guest posts with Freelance journalist published online at And... thanks to popstar and musician Mehmet Erdem, having a bit of cultural fun and flair appearing in the Turkish video clip - 'Aşkımız Bitecek'. Past contributions - Istanbul Timeout and Home Art Istanbul magazine.


  1. I have experienced the ferry ride a hundred times and yet never had the words to express it so simply and beautifully… I have fallen in love with this city all over again, thank you Sheldon :)

  2. Great stuff Sheldon! I wish I could’ve read this in 2008 when a friend and I travelled there.

  3. Really enjoyed reading this article. Many have written about the most obvious landmarks in Istanbul, but watching them pass by as you enjoy a ferry ride between continents is definitely a must do. I really love seeing this town thru your eyes. Absolutely exhilarating!

  4. Great, informative article with a clever twist!

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