Experience a more residential feel in Istanbul with a quick ferry ride to Uskudar.


A beautiful mosque in Uskudar, the Asian side of #Istanbul. #Turkey #Travel

A photo posted by Monica Wong (@_monicawong) on

For 1.5 lira, I took a ferry ride to Uskudar. When I landed on the Anatolian shore of the Bosporus River, there was a massive line snaked around the dock. I followed it all the way to the beginning and discovered that everyone was lined up waiting to be served their first meal of the day during Ramadan.

Uskudar is a very residential district. Many of the people here are locals who commute to Eminonu for work. There is a large population of university students and retirees. I walked to a small square near the dock and people-watched as night fell. As soon as the mosques started chanting, everyone around me began rustling  their plastic bags.

The pot-bellied middle-aged man to my left pulled out a container of water and drank it in one gulp. A couple pulled out their sandwiches and tore through the plastic.

A guy across the courtyard lit a cigarette and finished it in four puffs. A little girl flew by carrying a dish of food. Then, the lights came on at the mosque sitting in front of me.

The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque is one of Uskudar’s most famous landmarks. It was one of the first two mosques designed by Mimar Sinan and built my Mihrimah Sultana, the daughter of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The mosque looked like it was straight out of a story book.

The ferry ride back was a pleasant surprise. I expected to board a  worn down wooden boat, but instead a 5-star cruise liner pulled up to the dock. The cruise boat came with beige leather seats, shiny marble furniture and large flat screen TVs!  I paid the same price for this ride – 1.5 liras! Talk about getting my money’s worth.

Monica reflects on her travels by sharing her thoughts on A Cup of Moca. She writes about her journey as she experiences the destination to encourage others to marinate in the moment instead of just checking things off a bucket list.