It is just after 7am on a crisp late-summer morning, and we are driving southbound on Kennedy Avenue, the road along the Strait of Bosphorus adjacent to Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace and some of the city’s most famous historic sites. Yoruk Isik spots something out of the corner of his eye that makes him abruptly change course.
The Russian warship that he and his informal network of spotters further south in the Sea of Marmara and Cannakale had been tracking and which had left the Syrian port of Tartus, where Russia has built a naval base, days earlier had showed up sooner than he had expected. Suddenly, our leisurely morning drive turns into a mad dash, through Istanbul traffic, back across the Golden Horn and north along the Bosphorus. The aim: set up a vantage point to get a clear shot of the warship as it makes its way through the waterway.
“You’re getting the real sport of it,” Isik, a 49-year-old political scientist and blogger also known as the Bosphorus Observer, tells me. “First of all, you have to be ready to deal with Istanbul traffic.”