Most of the ships in the Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta have arrived in Istanbul and are anchored in the roads awaiting passage through the Istanbul Strait tomorrow.
The ships will motor in convoy under the grand Bosphorus Bridge through the waterway that separates the two continents – Europe and Asia – and head to the entrance of the Black Sea, north of Turkeli, for the start of the second leg of this first race to Varna, Bulgaria.
Torment is probably the best word to describe the feeling of crews as they pass through this amazing historical city without being able to stop this time. But their wishes to return will be granted on the second race from Varna, when Istanbul becomes the third port of call.
The ships will be docked in the heart of the City near the Galata Bridge, so crews will have the opportunity to enjoy this amazing place and take in some of the many sites on offer. Looking out across the Bosphorus, the skyline is littered with ancient mosques, churches, and palaces, all of which reflect the City’s diverse history. It is the only city in the world to straddle two continents and the only one to have been a capital during two consecutive empires – Byzantine and Ottoman.
A stroll across the Galata Bridge, or a five minute tram ride from where the ships will be moored will take the crews right into the hub of the Old City, just a stone’s throw away from some of the most interesting sites, including the Sultan Ahmet Centre – the heart of the Old City from where the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires were ruled. Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace are three of the other most famous landmarks in the City, as is the site of the Hippodrome, where chariot races and political activities used to take place.
Those who enjoy shopping will not be disappointed. The Grand Covered Bazaar is the largest souk in the world with nearly 4,000 shops selling antiques, jewellery, gold and carpets. The Spice Market, also just across the Galata Bridge, is well worth a visit too.
Crews who just can’t get enough of the water, may be tempted to take one of the many cruises on offer including a day trip to Princes’ Islands and visit Buyukada – the popular summer beach resort once the pleasure island of Byzantine Princes.
Fine Turkish cuisine is not difficult to find in Istanbul but for a really special treat, a half hour cab drive (depending on the traffic) to Florya for the 'Beyti experience' is well worth the effort. Beyti is a family-run world-renowned restaurant specialising in meat dishes. It’s arguably the best restaurant in Turkey and has, over the years, welcomed many distinguished guests including heads of state and film stars from all over the world.
Once the fleet is underway on the second leg of this first race to Varna, a daily position report will be published on the website fleet tracking each morning.
To view the current placings of the race click here
The Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta is organised by Sail Training International.