Nov 4, 2013
Time for a break today. We rose late and went for a cruise from Istanbul to the Black Sea. The Bosphorus Strait separates Europe and Asia. Modern Istanbul of some 15 million people straddles both sides. A complex system of ferries, bridges and now a railroad tunnel join the community into one metroplex. The commuter and other local boats make up the majority in numbers but they must compete with large ships from all over that sail from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. To say the waterway is both busy and historical is quite an understatement.
The Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 set in motion diverse events like the European quest for a way around the Istanbul trade bottleneck. Columbus and the Portuguese were after the same thing, a route to Asia that avoided Istanbul. With the discovery and development of these routes, the Ottoman trade stranglehold on Europe diminished and the Ottomans started a long decline. While they dominated Southeastern Europe for several more centuries, they missed out on events like the Industrial Revolution. They managed to hang on a long time because Europeans could not agree on how to divide their Empire and oil was not a valuable commodity until the 20th Century.
We just got a public boat that makes a seven hour round trip during the working day. We watched commuters disembark and scramble aboard when we did the same at quitting time. We sailed past palaces, nice homes, fishing villages and under bridges while dodging fisherman and freighters. We just sat and took pictures and enjoyed a nice two and half hour lunch stop on the Asian side at the entrance to the Black Sea. Just enjoy the pictures.