Every-day commuting between continents may be tiresome for Istanbulites, but with activities such as entertaining music, taking beautiful pictures of the Bosporus or just feeding the seagulls that surround the ferries, you are bound to find a way to have fun
Living in a city that's located on two continents can be hard if your work, school, home or even just favorite hangout spots are located on the other side – which ever that may be. Luckily for locals and tourists alike, transportation between the two continents is as easy as ABC. Water transportation including ferries and motorboats is a must if you have to commute between the Asian and European sides of Istanbul. These fun and enjoyable rides make the commute a more pleasurable activity and might just make your day better too. Here are some activities that can keep you entertained while riding a ferry across the Bosporus Strait.
Waiting: We all know how big of a hassle it is to come down to the docks to board the ferry. This hassle is only made worse when you realize that you have an hour to kill before your ferry arrives. If you have lived in Istanbul long enough, you have definitely experienced this problem – most likely more than once. So, what can you do? Well, you don't have to look too far as ferry docks, where ever they may be, are usually surrounded by little cafes and stalls where you can purchase tea or coffee and enjoy the nice view while waiting for your ferry. If the weather is nice, taking a walk along the docks is another option. If people-watching is one of your favorite pastimes, the ferry docks will not disappoint, as you are sure to see many people bustling to-and-fro racing against time to get to where they need to be.
Simit and snacks: Your ferry arrives and you've finally boarded, however, now you might opt for a light snack, as the ride usually takes 15-30 minutes depending on the destination. Simit (Turkish sesame bagel) is always favored among ferry users because it is sold onboard the boat and is an inexpensive way to fill your tummy. Usually eaten alongside a cup of hot tea, simit is the perfect breakfast or afternoon snack for people on-the-go. You can purchase simit, tea and virtually any other snack from the food bar; however, you don't have to get up to buy it because servers usually carry a tray filled with tea up and down the aisles for those who want one. Don't forget that the tea is not free, even though it may seem like the guy is just handing them out.
Feed the seagulls: As you gaze across the Bosporus, you may notice a flock of seagulls in pursuit. These seagulls depart the dock with the ferries and follow them all the way to the other side of the strait. This is because the seagulls in Istanbul have become so used to humans that they are actually following the boat in the hopes that you will feed them. If you have any left-over simit or crackers, don't be shy to throw them into the air off the ferry to feed the seagulls. Once the frenzy starts, you might have a hard time not laughing as they toss and turn in the air to grab the biggest piece of bread. Be careful, though, as the seagulls fly so close to the ferry.
Live music: You have just finished feeding the birds and just when you think the fun is over, you hear the soft tunes of a guitar or accordion in the background. Live music is usually a part of the ferry rides in Istanbul, especially when the weather is warmer. Locals and tourists alike board the boat with their instruments, and play their tunes, making the journey more cheerful once the ferry gets going. They might sing or play the violin, trumpet or guitar, and sometimes a whole band of performers will start playing. As you listen to their music and enjoy the beautiful Bosporus view, you might find yourself wishing that the ride never ends. These performances are free of charge but the artists do appreciate a small donation for their music, which probably isn't much for the delightful spirit they spread.
Let the creativity flow: With all the magical things experienced on the ferry, you might be feeling very creative at this point. So, why not let it flow? Take photos of the Bosporus and the ferry. The inside of the boat is just as lively and interesting as the outside view. Snap away at the sunset or the bridge, but don't forget to turn around and take pictures of the vigorous and spirited people inside. If you're into writing, let the experience inspire you to write a poem or short story. A sizable portion of Turkish literature was inspired by the Bosporus and the ferry rides taken across the strait. You might be looking at the same things that inspired many Turkish poets such as Cemal Sürreya and Nazım Hikmet.
Read: Aside from all things, the ferry is also a great place to catch up on reading. Whether it be the daily newspaper or a book that you just can't put down, the peaceful environment of the ferry combined with the sweet breeze that ruffles your pages is the perfect spot to dive into some reading.
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