Write since my childhood I had coloured the sky as light blue and the sea as a darker blue in painting class. As I grew up I saw that the sky could still be blue. Except the older I grew the more I spent 'blue sky' hours indoors in offices. And the blue sea? That largely remained a myth. The sea in Mumbai is grey. The one at Goa borders on grey. The river in Kolkata? grey again.
Then I went to Istanbul, the city of the Bosphorus and the Marmara. We could see a glimpse of the sea from our room at the Marmara Palace hotel. Electric blue.
We of course did the customary Bosphorus cruise. This was a dream like experience. I am yet to see the 'Blue Danube' but here the waters were blue enough to make me compose symphonies. We passed by lovely villas, the super expensive Kempinski hotel which is a converted palace, castles, the Blue Mosque and other monuments, the military school where General Musharaf of Pakistan had studied. These were some of the most beautiful sites that one had ever seen. And the breeze? Pure unadulterated Ozone. One felt so far removed from the grime of one's daily grind. It did to my spirit what rounds of botox couldn't do to a rich dowager.
- You do get night cruises but they defeat the purpose because you will be unable to see much
- The Bosphorus cruise ends at a place called Eminonu which is the tram stop for the Spice Market. You can leave the tour here and spend time here as you get much better deals here than at the more popular Grand Bazar.
- A Bosphorus cruise is a visual delight. The quality of the guide doesn't really matter. Ours occasionally droned out something perfunctorily while reading the newspaper, speaking on the mobile, snapping at passengers and scratching his head at the captain's deck