I live with a foot in two worlds. Pretty much every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I am crossing between continents. On those three days, and even odds that at least one other time during the week, for one reason or another I am making a journey from Asia into Europe. Earlier today I was writing somewhere else a bit about this fact and I figured that I might as well share a bit of it here as well since it really is all about crossing that bit of water that flows between two seas.
My favorite way to cross into Europe is by ferry. There are actually two main access points for the ferry on the Asia side. The far busier one is in Kadıköy but the closer and more convenient one for me is in Üsküdar. There are multiple locations those ferries can end up but pretty much the only two I use them for is to Eminönü (closest to the center of Istanbul and most of the touristy stuff) and to Beşiktaş (my futbol team of choice and where I first stayed in a hostel on arrival in Istanbul).
The ferry is the most scenic and the most peaceful route, but not by any stretch the fastest. If I am in a time crunch, for anything on the western side of the Golden Horn, my best bet, rather than the Üsküdar/Eminönü ferry would be to hop on the Marmaray. Instead of floating on the water, this is a subway tunneling (not to be confused with the Tünel) under the Bosphorus (Boğaziçi). While not nearly as extensive as NYC’s MTA, the subway system in Istanbul as a whole seems much cleaner and more pleasant of an experience.
Beyond going under or floating on, there is also the option of driving over the Bosphorus. However, unless you want to pay ridiculous fares to a taksi only to get stuck in the perpetual traffic jam that is the Boğaziçi Köprüsü (Bosphorus Bridge), the only legitimate option is the Metrobus. It has it’s own lane that nobody can cross into. Technically, this is the best option for me. It is closest and most convenient to my house but for some reason, I have not used it often.
For all of these public transport options spanning the continents, and pretty everything else on both sides except for the Dolmus (remember, the “cross” between a taksi and a short bus), what you need to get is an Istanbulkart. There are kiosks near all of these locations where you can buy one for ten Turkish lira (but it comes with 4tl credit preloaded). I try to keep between 10-20tl on the card, and can load more on it wherever they are sold. What at first seemed like such a daunting experience for me, now is pretty much part of my daily life. Part of that is because I have realized that there are so many paths, so many options, and that I have the key with me at all times.
For other far more important things in life, the path is the key… and there is only One.