Rob and Jacky Black
Sun 29 May 2011 10:14
40 58.27 N 28 52.6 E
Atakoy Marina Istanbul Wednesday 25th - Sunday 29th May
We had a peaceful night along side the fishing boat apart from a visiting cat which left it's spray on the dinghy cover! Left at 0530 first light and were soon sailing with a great
wind, two reefs in the main and 1/3rd of the genoa wind speeds around 15 knots. We made good speed for an hour then the wind went ahead and died for an hour so the engine went back on.
The seas were fairly flat as we were protected by the proximity of the land and even later when we had 25 knots of wind it was a fast passage even with three reefs we were making 7.5 knots at times.
We arrived off Atakoy Marina having passed through a huge ship's anchorage just to the west off a container terminal - I counted 46 ships at anchor here, at 1100 and were soon all fast on F pontoon
Kiwi Volant (from the EMYR last year) were on the head of the pontoon so we met up with Bruce and Mandy later for a catch-up chat.
The marina has alongside finger pontoon berths which made a pleasant change from lazy lines, the showers were good but a long walk from our pontoon! There is a very large Migros some 400 metres out of the marina
so we were able to stock up the stores easily. the office staff were most helpful and we soon had plenty of information to get ourselves into the city to explore.
Bus number 81 goes from a bus stop on the hour and half hour (approximately) which is just east of the marina on the main dual carriage way. It took us 30 minutes in the rush hour and 20 later in the day to reach the ferry port of
Eminonu from where trams run up to the main tourist area of the Sultanmet. We were at the entrance for the Topkapi Palace at 0850 on Thursday morning to get our tickets and beat the crowds for our first sightseeing expedition.
This Palace was the home to the Sultans and their extended families and staff for some 450 years; many additions being built by various monarchs. The setting was lovely an elevated position with views across the Golden Horn ,up the Bosphorus and across to the Asian shores. Much of the sight has shaded gardens and courtyards with separate palaces and buildings arranged around these. We visited the Harem first where we heard about the various rooms and protocols
practiced here. Everywhere you looked the walls were covered in elaborate tiles and huge doors inlaid with mother of pearl. There were marble floors and columns and water features abounded. All very ornate and almost decadent!
We next viewed the Treasury rooms where the most amazing collection of jewels, turban adornments, daggers, gem-encrusted boxes and other richly decorated items were displayed - some of them incredibly old dating from pre BC others from as late as 19th Century. Emeralds seemed very popular and there was one diamond the likes of which we have never seen before it was enormous!
After this we spent another hour wandering around the various other buildings taking pictures and enjoying the warm sunny day before eventually heading for the Golden Horn and lunch. We decided to go to the traditional fish cafes on the Galata
Bridge where we ate fish in bread - delicious and cheap too at 3 TL per portion. After this we headed for the nearby Spice Bazaar and spent another hour wandering this maze of alleyways full of stalls selling anything from nuts to baby clothes
and anything else you can think of! All wonderfully colourful with delicious aromas emanating from the kebab stalls and spice shops - fantastic! It was pleasant to be able to  look at goods without too much hassle from the stall holders although the carpet and kilim shops all had the usual selling line - 'let me ask you one question....?'
We returned to the boat around 1800 ready for an early night.