Istanbul Day Trip - Princes Islands

07:47 Alyson Tart 1 Comments

About 20 km southeast of Istanbul are a series of 9 islands called Princes Islands. Or at least that's what they are called in English, in Turkish they are more commonly referred to as Adalar (the islands). I still don't quite get the disparity between works in Turkish and English (e.g. Boğaz in Turkish, Bosphorous in English). If they are proper nouns, shouldn't they be the same?

I digress.

These islands got their name as they were originally used as a place for ex-princes and monarchs - doesn't seem like too terrible of an exile to me. Later in the 19th century, they became popular as summer resorts for the wealthy. Even today, they are most popular in the summer. The popular goes from 15,000 to 100,000 in the summer as people flock from Istanbul to escape the heat, crowds, and cars. That's right, the islands have no cars, with the exceptions of emergency and city vehicles (like the always important waste trucks). Such a nice respite from the incessant honking in Istanbul.

The islands have been on my bucket list for a while, but we hadn't yet made it there. The most difficult part was that I wanted to bring Belle with us. Getting around with a dog can be troublesome in Istanbul, so perhaps I was just avoiding what I thought would be an annoying and irksome process of getting her to Princes Islands for the day.

Luckily, we got some good advice and a car lent to us from a friend. We drove to Bostanci to take the direct ferry to Büyükada, the largest of the 9 islands. Other than finding the ferry port and finding parking, it was easy, breezy with the dog. She was showing off her tricks to all the Turks and making friends. Not to mention, she LOVED the boat ride. So many fish to see in the water, birds to see in the sky and things to smell in the air! 40 minutes of pure bliss for Belle and we arrived at Büyükada.

Beautiful ferry building at Bostanci
Belle looking pretty at Princes' Islands
Waterfront restaurants from the ferry docks
Despite this being one of my bucket list items, I really hadn't planned in advance. I had heard there was a monastery on the island and that was about it. So, we spent the entire day moseying a bit.

We had lunch and worried about the impending storm blowing through. Luckily, it hit Istanbul but avoided the islands. Good luck? Absolutely.

Stormy Istanbul. Despite sports shutter speed and a couple
hundred photos, I couldn't quite capture the lightening

Next we decided to try a feyton. These are the horse drawn carriages that are one of the main transports other than bikes on the island. Even Belle got to ride around. This is a great way to see the city in an hour, there aren't really major sites, but you can see some of the views and enjoy/envy the new summer homes.

Old streets lined with little shops and dondurma (Turkish
ice cream restaraunts)
Our feyton carriage

Someone else's feyton carriage
While there are plenty of new summer
homes in the city, it is also filled with these
old, somewhat sad buildings.

View from the top of the island overlooking the other islands

After the feyton is where my lack of planning came into play. We had just missed one ferry and the next ferry wasn't for 3 hours. What were we to do? Well, after a nice stroll along the waterfront, we decided to hang out in typical Turkish fashion. We joined the locals bathing on the rocks, although Belle was the only swimmer; we enjoyed some dondurma and lokma (not to be confused with lokum/turkish delight). Once our bellies were once again full, we smoked some nargile, also on my bucket list, and taught ourselves how to play backgammon (Tawula in Turkish).

Istanbul views from the Büyükada shoreline

Everyone hanging out on the shoreline - swimming,
sunbathing, eating, or my favorite pastime - people watching

Dondurma and lokma - lokma was a little
sweet for my taste

Apple nargile AKA hookah

Getting there:
Check the ferry times here (fast ferry) or here (conventional ferry). You can catch the ferry from Kabataş on the European side or Bostanci on Asia side.

What to See:
- St. George Monastery - not much remains, but if you don't mind making the trekk up there, you might as well check it out
- Panoramic views - head up to the top of the island to get great views of the other islands, or check out the shoreline by the docks for great cityscapes of Istanbul
- Relaxation at work! Do as the locals do and just sit back and enjoy the quiet and sun.

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1 comment:

  1. Your article about Turkish is really informative and this picture looks awesome . Tourist can get many important information from you. Thanks for sharing this post. Turkish is wonderful place and i like Turkish culture, food etc .We are making a plan to go Turkey in summer vacation and hope that it would be wonderful journey.