2012 April 10 – Day 30 – Scenic Cruising in the Bosporus, Marmara Sea and Dardanelles

We had a “sea” day after a week in ports and on tours.  There was a reception on board that we were invited to attend but we skipped it in favour of spending the day on deck watching the coast go by.  It wasn’t what you could call a lovely day; it was cold and very windy, but we enjoyed being outside rather than doing chit chat in the dining room.

The Bosporus Strait is a 32 km (20 mile) long narrow strip of water that separates the Black Sea from the Sea of Marmara which is a small body of water on the northwestern edge of Turkey.  The city of Istanbul straddles the Bosporus Strait, separating Europe and Asia.  The strait varies in width from half a mile to a mile and a half.  The water runs swiftly due to two different opposing currents.  Nearly 40,000 ships navigate the channel every year.We spent the morning on deck as we sailed back from the Black Sea through the Bosporus Strait and past Istanbul again. Sailing under the Bosporus Bridge.  The Asia side is mostly residential.  The European side is home to old Istanbul with Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace easily visible from the water.

The Sea of Marmara is 282 km (175 miles) long, at the longest point.  It is a fairly constricted lake just 80 km (50 miles) wide at its widest; but it is deep (up to 1372 m or 4,500 feet) at the center.  It took the ship all afternoon to navigate the Sea.

At the end of Sea of Marmara is another narrow channel of water called the Dardanelles which accesses the Aegean Sea near Greece.  the Dardanelle Strait is 61 km (38 miles) long.  It was formed during a cataclysmic geological event that sunk a portion of Asia Minor.  The northern side of the Aegean entrance is the European Gallipoli Peninsula; the southern shore is Asia Minor, so the channel is truly a line between two continents.

We traversed the majority of the Dardanelles while we were at dinner but we went back on deck afterward and watched the lovely sunset. The next day we begin touring Greece and have another eight consecutive days in port and on tour.

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