Having mastered travel by car, plane and bus, it was time for Ella to tackle a boat. Fortunately, it’s not hard to find one in Istanbul. If you walk anywhere near Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque it’s impossible to avoid the cries of “Bosphorus Boat Tour” which seem to come from every third person you pass. By day three, we even had one girl comment, “I say that to you everyday, don’t I”. Oddly enough, she was one we didn’t remember.
Our boat wasn’t scheduled to leave until 12:30pm, so we decided to use the morning to visit the Blue Mosque. In a way, the Blue Mosque, or Sultanameht Mosque as it’s called here, is the opposite of Hagia Sophia. Where the real beauty of Hagia Sofia is inside, I think the best part of the Blue Mosque is the exterior.
The Blue Mosque doesn’t have quite the same splendour that we’ve seen in other mosques, most notably the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
Unlike Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque is still an active mosque, so visiting requires that men have long pants and women wear a headscarf and cover their ankles and shoulders. Given the number of tourists they see, they have covers available when you enter, but being prepared we were able to breeze through the dressing area past some of the tour groups. It also helped that we were visiting on Thursday rather than Friday as the services, during which you can’t visit, are shorter.
Though exceptions are made for babies, Ella did her best to be respectful with a headscarf, even if it wasn’t until after we left the mosque. Cut her some slack, she’s still working on the details.
Up the Bosphorus
Our trip up the Bosphorus followed a similar route to the first of our two bus trips. Although, being on the water offered a much better view of several of the of the palaces and the skyline of the city.
Further up the Bosphorus, near the bridges over to Asia, is clearly where some of Istanbul’s wealthy live. In a city of 20 million there have to be some people of considerable wealth and the big houses along the water here were really the first signs of it that we saw.
I don’t know if it’s for food, money, or just for sport (a term I use very loosely where fishing is involved) but there are an amazing number of fisherman lining the water’s edge in Istanbul.
As has been a theme of our trip, Ella took to the water like a star and enjoyed the wind in her hair… while she slept.
When she did insist that we go to the lower level so she could have a snack and diaper change, she made friends with the lady running the little cafe. When it was time for a change she ran around to find a towel so Ella would have something soft to lie on while we changed her.
After the boat tour we had a late lunch and nap followed by dinner at another restaurant near our hotel with, you guessed it, bench seating. Yes, eating seems to have become a much more central part of our travel days.
A quick addendum
A quick addition to my comment about bench seating. Not to be limited in our restaurant choices, we’ve also learned that two chairs pushed together can form a bench. Or, failing that a chair cushion on the floor seems to work pretty well too.
Up next a flight to Cappadocia. I wonder what food they’ll have on the plane. Oh no, what’s happened. If I’m not careful this will become a baby food blog.