ISTANBUL __ I’ve always wondered what it would be like to travel the world, and today I was lucky enough to touch down on two continents in the same day. You see, Istanbul is the only city in the world that sits on two contents: Asia to the east, Europe to the west. So, today, during a boat ride along the Bosphorus, we started on the European side of Istanbul (at a site not too far from the Galata Tower), and then traveled to the Asian side where I noticed everything was different and much more influenced by the continent that environment was surrounded by. To do this, we boarded a charter boat and sailed north along the entire length of Bosphorus waterway; along the way we shot photographs of all the beautiful real estate brimming along the seaway.
I found it extremely easy to travel with someone who speaks fluent Turkish like Professor Gohkan Celik and his father, Kamal Celik, who are both native to the area and can show us around and teach us about the culture with ease. When we met up with Gohkans’s father – a lifelong Turk – he was able to explain to us that there is a compete difference in the two different continents and how they each hold their culture in their own respects.
When we arrived at the destination on the Asian side, we notice that there was a third bridge under construction at the northern most point of the Bosphorus where the waterway joins the Black Sea. We were told that this new bridge that was history in the making: For generations, there have only been two bridges connecting Asia and Europe along this portion of the Bosphorus. Soon, this third will be completed opening much more opportunity for transportation across the two continents.
Not everyone is happy about the new crossing. Many people believe that the new highway is going to mean more urban sprawl. At 14 million, Istanbul is one of the largest urban centers in the world; this bridge simply creates a conduit for more growth, more people, more houses, more cars… you get the idea. Right now, the lands around the northern end of the Bosphorus are hilly, lush and green.
After we were educated on this matter, we were presented with more opportunity to learn about the culture. We traveled to the Spice Bazaar, which is a location where many products – tea, coffee, spices, Turkish Delight – are going to be sold for low prices. I noticed that this area is dominated by locals who sometimes prey upon tourists. As a result, the prices for things can vary wildly. I found that what a Turk might pay for something will be far less than – say – what an American college student might pay for the same item.
The entire day was a learning experience and I only hope to learn more about this culture and how they put other cultures in other respects. The entire trip is a learning experience and I only hope to keep learning more about this beautiful environment an very different culture.
By Nathaniel Schuetz