Since my post titles automatically capitalize every letter, you have no way of knowing that I put “DO NOT” in all caps and the rest in small letters because that’s how serious I am about not missing this part of Istanbul. <—Which is why I told you there, just now. I’m so, so serious.
I had thought about going to the Galata Bridge on my own as I had heard it was worth visiting, but I never made it on my own time. I really had no intention of going to Galata Tower, assuming it was enough to see it towering (lol) above from afar. Luckily, Merve took me to see these NECESSARY sights after we finished up at Dolmabahce Palace. I came pretty close to getting hit by a bus between the two locales, but you’ll have that. Danger is half the excitement of traveling!
We started at the Galata Bridge to grab a bite to eat. While the fishermen dip their poles in from above, you can stroll along a boardwalk deciding which restaurant you’d like to sit at to eat your fish sandwich. We got a real 4D experience getting splashed with drops of sea water coming from fishing poles being reeled up right past our faces. This is better than the IMAX, people!
We got these enormous fish sandwiches for 6 lira. WAIT, don’t pull out your currency converter yet! That comes out to about $2.50. Yes, really. It’s the Lenten season, how much is your Filet o’ Fish right now? Bet it doesn’t look this good. And I bet it doesn’t have lots of little bones in it that you have to try not to choke on, but don’t let that deter you from getting one!
Every New Year, Merve and her friends write down two tasks and toss them in a hat, and whichever two you draw, you have to complete that year. One of the tasks that Merve drew was to eat a fish sandwich at the Galata Bridge, so I was able to help her out with that. She was lucky to have me. Also, I think this is a cool tradition.
After lunch, we walked across the top of the bridge and headed for the Galata Tower. When you see the tower in the distance, you really don’t realize that it’s up a steep fucking hill. On the way up the skinny streets, there are all sorts of quality goods for sale, ranging from satellite dishes to portraits of the Eiffel Tower and all the street jewelry you can think of. I was really trying to power up that hill though, lest I stop and not be able to start again, so I had no time to finger through a bunch of scarves. Another thing you should know about me is that I never buy souvenirs anyway.
The Galata Tower was built in 1338 and was the tallest building in Constantinople at the time and, as such, used to spot fires. Oddly, it was also damaged by fires a couple of times in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Too busy worrying about other people to take care of their own house, am I right, America??
The line to get into the tower was long, but it moved along pretty quickly. It was nice to have some time to rest since I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to ascend a spiral staircase to get to the top of the building or just what was waiting for me inside. The good news is that there are two elevators inside to take you up, but the bad news is that foreigners pay TWICE the entrance fee as Turkish nationals. What’s with THAT bullshit, I could’ve stormed right out of there.
So, it was like, $5.00 vs. $2.50, but I was deeply offended.
Now, I made exactly one note on my entire trip to Turkey because this was something I absolutely did not want to forget:
I exited the elevator at the top of the tower to find myself being serenaded by the voice of the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith! There’s a lovely cafe sitting upon the highest floor, brimming with classy people and various pastries if you’re into that sort of thing. I’m personally not into croissants nor strudels, but I’d definitely wrap my mouth around the sweet, sweet melody of Big Willie Style protecting us from the ugly martians infiltrating the number one planet in the solar system, Planet EARTH.
It was a little crowded around the door leading out to the walkway around the outside of the tower, so I had plenty of time to take in Mr. Hitch. Everyone’s natural inclination is to start marveling at the view as soon as they step out the door, and take tons and tons of pictures right at the beginning. Do yourself a favor and keep the line moving until you’re at least halfway around. Once you get the Bosphorous in sight with the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia on the horizon, the view is top notch, and that’s where you’ll get all your hot instagram photos!
You’re not going to get a view like this anywhere else. Even though I don’t care much for old buildings, I really love spectacular scenery, so it’s a give and take.
Ohhh, Jesus, and it was even around sunset. Selfies x1000!!
The spot I’m standing in is directly blocking the view of a rooftop cafe that we spotted from way up there and decided we would head to once we got back down to sea level. Because every occasion needs to begin or end with a cup of coffee or tea. This is something I feel we should adopt in the U.S.A.
While we stood waiting for the elevators to come back up to get us, the elevator operator suggested to Merve that we could take the stairs back down because I probably hadn’t seen the original staircase! He was right! I had not! Well neither had she, so I jumped on it, especially because it felt like we were going through a door we weren’t supposed to be going through and had access to a very special secret.
I mean, yeah, they were just old stairs, but we had them all to ourselves, minus the occasional employee sneaking through doors every now and then . Personally, it added to the experience. If you go, I highly recommend asking the elevator operator if you can take the stairs back down.
Once we hit the ground, we found that cafe which actually had a name– the Galata Konak Patisserie and Cafe.
It was probably one of the more pleasant ways I’ve enjoyed an afternoon. God knows I love to sit and drink things and appreciate my surroundings while outdoors in nice weather. The view was amazing and I will always choose to be on a rooftop rather than sit inside. Obviously.
I can’t stress enough how glad I was to hit up these two sights while I was in Istanbul, and I almost didn’t! Whew, dodged a bullet. Go. GO, go, go, or I’ll cut you.