czwartek, 23 kwietnia 2015

Princess Islands on the Sea of Marmara

Hey there!

Hope You are having a great Thursday!
In Turkey today we celebrate the International Children's Day! Having a day off from work and studies - I have found finally some time to finish my first story for you.
I have decided to dedicate my first post to the part of Istanbul which - altough very popular among the Turks - is not the one from the first pages of the foreign city guides.

Adalar - which means Islands - are nine Islands situated on the Sea of Marmara, two hours away by ferry from the city center. The way there is very exciting already - using the terrace of the public transportation ferrys (yes,they have them here!) you can enjoy the spectacular view of the huuuge city of Istanbul (15 millions habitants) and its surroundings. The local canteen offers very cheap tea and snacks - which you can share with seagulls - keeping you company during all the journey.

On the way to the Islands
The biggest Island is called Buyukada (which basically means "Big Island"). It is forbidden there to use motorized vehicles so the visit you can plan either with bike (You can rent them easily and cheap everywhere ) or horse carriage (probably way more expensive option). The island consists of many hills so be ready for some excercise but still bycicle allows you to travel around more freely. You can get lost in the little streets and stop over whenever you want to admire beautiful Ottoman - style,white villas with its colourful flowers around.

Typical house of Buyukada

The history of the name of the Adalar -  Princess Islands - begins in the Byzantine Empire times when princes and some other royalities were exciled in there. Later on, in the Ottoman times, they used the Islands for the same purposes. Luckily nowadays, we can use it to admire its beauty and escape to the nature from the noise and crowd of Istanbul.
On the highest point of Buyukada there is a greek church of Saint George (Agia Yorgi). It is really tiny but said to be very common destination for pilgrims around the world due to miracles occuring there. The only way to reach it is to leave the bike and all the heavy luggage we may have with us and climb up! It takes around 20 minutes but it is totally worth it! The panoramic view is absolutely stunning! On the way you will notice lots of colourful papers tangled around branches of the trees - turkish people leave them to bring them luck! There is a little cafe next to church were you can enjoy wine or turkish tea and admire the beauty of nature around us!

Agia Yorgi Church

View from the hill


View of other Islands from the top of Buyukada

Buykada flowers
You can spend all day wandering around the Island - discovering always new spots and new perspective of the magnificent view. There are plenty of other things to visit - like old, orthodox cemetery and monastery. And when you get hungry - walk down to the port - you will find there number of restaurants serving fish and traditional turkish alcohol - raki. Don't loose yourself too much in the delicious food tough - the last public ferry to Istanbul leaves at 8.30 pm. If You will miss  it (yes, it happened to me too of course), try to catch some of private company's ferrys (but this also only until 11 pm).
And some practical tips - the cheapest way to go to Princess Islands - use the public ferrys that leave every hour from the ports of Kabatas (European Side) and Kadikoy (Asian Side). To use the public transport in Istanbul you need to buy special card (you can buy it in every kiosque for 7 TL, it is called Akbil). Later on you should upload it either using special machines or in the same kiosque. Going and coming to Islands will cost you around 4 TL (around 1 euro). So little and the adventure is priceless!

Hope some of you will get to see the Princess Island and enrich the experience I got with some new stories.
Have a great evening!

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