It had been a long day. We had toured the Blue Mosque, the Harem and the Hagia Sophia. To say we were exhausted is an understatement. But we were only in this amazingly ancient, yet super hip and modern city for three days. What more could we pack in? I figured a boat ride along a waterway that straddled Europe and Asia was the answer. And it didn't disappoint. Upon arriving back at Eminonu, known for its fresh seafood, my stomach was growling for a fish sandwich. The setting sun shown a light on the options along the Galata Bridge, and I knew what our next destination would be. Tired or not.
When embarking on my yearly trips overseas, one of the things I truly look forward to is my first few days of jet lag. For me, jet lag doesn't include nausea, irritability or fatigue - it merely means sleeping and waking at unusual hours. Jet lag has given me the opportunity to experience the liveliness at London's Smithfield Market at sunrise, and witness the mayhem in a Bucharest cafe full of students at 3 am.
My first few hours in Istanbul involved sleeping at 6 pm and leaving the hotel on foot at 3 am. Walking the still, dark streets at that hour provided a gentle introduction to the unfamiliar city. At sunrise I found myself at Galata bridge to witness the tranquility of the local fishermen silently casting their lines into the Bosphorus. As I sat to watch the sun rise over Asia, I began to hear the electric murmur of the call to prayer emanating from the city's mosques. These gentle tones prepared me for the forthcoming energy I would soon experience as the city began to wake.
When visiting Istanbul, you'll cross the Galata Bridge countless times, as it connects the Golden Horn and the more modern areas of Beyoğlu with the old town (where you can find the markets and mosques) near Eminönü. The bridge offers great views of the glistening Bosporus River but also is the perfect place for an afternoon snack and drink.
Under the bridge, restaurants and bars line the waterway, and over-zealous waiters wave and holler, alerting you that they indeed do have the famous fish sandwiches, called "Balik Ekmek." (And cold beer, waiting for you!)
Chewy white bread, smeared with a quick mix of crunchy, chopped vegetables and a slice of salty, grilled fish, then served up with an Efes and an unbeatable view. Sound good? Then be sure to visit Istanbul.
The Galata Bridge is the heart of Istanbul, spanning the Golden Horn from Karaköy on the north to Old Istanbul, centered on Sultanahmet, on the south. On one side of the bridge, ferries are busy transporting passengers to their destinations. And, on the other side, there are floating restaurants, street performers, and vendors. On the top deck, the bridge is full of anglers from one end to the other, while the lower deck are mostly restaurants.
By AFAR Traveler
Drinking in Istanbul, On a Bridge
It’s an obstacle course to get through the restaurant hawkers on the Galata bridge. Sometimes they stand directly in front of people walking by, thrusting their menus around, shouting “hello lady,” and blocking the walkway. But push past and the setting becomes one of the best places in Istanbul to grab a beer or a nargile. The bridge connects Istanbul’s imperial city to its European neighborhoods, and bars and restaurants line both sides, facing the Golden Horn. Here, below the city’s traffic and tramway, is where I used to sit on a bean bag and watch the sunset with my friends after a long work day. Any place that looks relaxing is a good bet here (first check if they serve beer though), but we used to head to Onnumera.