Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Boat Trip to Büyükada.



Today was our last day in Istanbul; we leave for home bright and early tomorrow morning. I cannot believe that it was four weeks ago that we landed in Athens. Time really has flown by and well, that's because we've had a blast!

I had deliberately left this day open on our itinerary. Since we didn't have a chance to visit Dolmabahçe Palace yesterday, I had originally thought we would do it today but unfortunately, it's closed. So, I mentioned a day trip to the Princes Islands - following up on a suggestion by my Turkish friend, Ayşe.  Bro had no objections to taking a trip outside the city so that was how we spent today.


We set out after having a quick breakfast in the apartment.  Bro packed up the leftovers as well as some other food, to bring along with us.  We don't waste food and so we have to clear out the fridge before we leave tomorrow :-)

I checked out a few ferry schedules last night and it appeared there were ferries departing for the Princes Islands from the dock at Kabataş so to Kabataş we went.  Our walk took us along a different route to head down to the water.  The streets are indeed steep here!


The first ferry company we came across wasn't opened for business yet. 


The second one was opened but the timing of the ferry departure and return didn't really appeal to us.  Although we had no idea what awaited us on the Princes Islands, we knew we wanted to make the most of it so that meant spending as much time there as possible.  Ferry company number 2 would have only given us about 3 hours.

The third and last ferry company was the charm and best of all, the travel times were perfect for us!   It would be about a 90 minute ride each way.






As Bro did the duty of getting our tickets, I breathed a deep sigh of relief as that was the last ferry company on the dock!  For 12TL roundtrip for each of us, we not only got our tickets but we got them just in time.  We had about 15 minutes before the ferry was to pull out of dock and that was the only ferry of the day!

We followed the signs to head to our awaiting boat.




From our boat, we had a marvelous view of Dolmabahçe Camii.

Dolmabahçe Camii on the left, in the foreground and Dolmabahçe Palace, on the right, in the background.

And we could look back at the hills that make up the neighborhoods of Cihangir and Kabataş.  I envied all those apartment owners who have views of the water.  Someday.....


It's a weekday and low tourist season so the boat was pretty empty.   The Princes Islands are a popular destination for the locals but they're still a bit of the beaten path for tourists.  Aside from Bro and I, I didn't notice anyone else around us who looked to be or sounded like they were non-Turkish.



Soon enough, I heard the sound of the engines firing up.  We pulled out of dock and cruised the waters of the Golden Horn.   We watched the hillsides of Istanbul fade in the distance.


Familiar sights came into view like the Galata Tower which after three visits, to Istanbul, I have yet to go to!  Next time, I promised myself.


The Aya Sophia and Topkapı Palace. 


Then came view of the Sultanahmet Camii.

These were all unfamiliar sights to Bro on his first ferry ride.  Today, he could rightfully claim he had been to both!


Sultanahmet Camii and Aya Sophia - they are a stunning pair of historic, cultural landmarks.



Ordinarily, a ferry ride on the Bosphorus takes you up to around Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.  Today, we would go much further.  Our final destination would be Prinkipo (Büyükada in Turkish), the largest of the nine Princes Islands located in the Sea of Marmara.  Büyükada is officially a neighborhood in the Adalar (Islands) district of Istanbul, meaning we're not technically leaving the city :-)


It wasn't long before we left familiar shores behind.  I was caught up just peering out at the shoreline; trying to take the in views as best I could.


All along the way, there were reminders that this part of Turkey is an important sea transportation hub for the country.


After a while, I think we both got lost in our own thoughts.  Happens.  When nothing's going on around you, you transport yourself in to your own (hopefully) happy daydreams.

The rapid fire chatter of a man brought us back to reality.  At first, I thought he was rather rude for just shouting out, more so as I had no idea what he was shouting about.  But he got our attention.  Then we began to chuckle.  The man was actually doing a demonstration of a vegetable peeler.  Yes, you read that correctly.  A vegetable peeler.  He had a captive audience so what better a place to ply his goods?

The vegetable peeler had multiple heads and the guy was using different types of fruits and veggies to show off what the heads could do.  I have to admit, we were both very entertained by this guy!




He started the show standing at the front of the row of seats.  To make sure everyone could have a good view of what he was doing, he moved towards where we were sitting. 


And, to prove how easy his tool was to use, he got one of our fellow passengers trying it out.  After his brief demo, he walked around the boat to see if there were any buyers and wouldn't you know it, there were plenty!  I lost count after 10.



For 10TL, it seemed like a pretty good bargain to me so guess who got one?  No, not me.  He pretends he's embarrassed but I know he liked the tool.  I have to admit, it's a very sturdy peeler!



Following vegetable peeler guy, there was another man who attempted to also sell his goods.  He appeared to be selling straws of some sort.  Not as *sexy* a product as a peeler so he pretty much had no luck emptying his box of goods.  We didn't bite.

After our brief entertainment, it was back to daydreaming but not for long.   We saw land in the form of an island.  I postured that it must be one of the nine Princes Islands so it would not be long before we would reach Büyükada.



The boat soon slowed down.  We were approaching shore.  The sign read *Heybeliada*.  While I realized it was not our destination, I had no idea where we were pulling in to.  A quick check on Google and I was able to tell Bro that Heybeliada is the second largest of the Princes Islands. 



The ferry was just making a quick stop to drop off some passengers.  We soon pulled out and continued our journey to Büyükada.



Curious about how much further we had to go, I checked Google Maps to see the relative distance between the two islands.  We weren't far.  That was confirmed when I noticed fellow passengers beginning to gather up their belongings and head to the front of the boat.

Leaving Heybeliada.

Nearing  Büyükada.

A couple of brief daydreams and we were pulling in to the boat dock in  Büyükada.  I'm always relieved to make it to my final destination.  A, it means nothing bad happened on the journey and B, we made it to the correct destination....a particular concern when you're in a place where you don't speak the language :-)


Once I've arrived in to a place, I'm always eager to get off whatever form of transportation I was on.  I just want to get going.  Bro, not so much.  He's content waiting, letting others go first. So, I always get to greet him!



Büyükada, here we are!