After spending four days being heckled and hounded in Istanbul, Cheyenne and I decided to take a nice day trip to the biggest of the Princes’ Islands, about an hour and a half away from Istanbul. We weren’t too sure what to expect; we were told, vaguely, that there were no cars on the Islands (mostly true), that there were many horse-drawn carriages that we could tour on (very true), that it was pleasant to bike around (questionable for those who don’t like hills—ahem, Cheyenne!), and that there was, at one point, a very steep part that you couldn’t ride your bike up (we failed to actually get all the way halfway around the island, so this could very well be true, but I have no real evidence of this). The ferries ran roughly every hour from the (Port) port, conveniently located at the end of a tram line. We took the 11:30 ferry over, and spent the next hour and a half watching locals and tourists alike play musical chairs with the on-deck seating as they tried to get a good photo or escape the wind.
We got to the island around 1:00 pm, and immediately stopped for some lunch. We were pleasantly surprised by the cost of the food, which was approximately 1/3 to ½ as expensive as it was in Sultanhamet, where our hostel was located. (Tip: getting food slightly off the beaten tourist path and a few streets up from the water guarantees a cheaper and tastier meal, even by island standards!) After this we took a walk, deciding we were going to try and find Yoruk Ali “beach” and promptly got very lost. With the help of a friendly local man who just so happened to have a map handy, we 180’d and made our way back to our port of entry, then rented a pair of bikes and set off in search of the beach.
When we got there, we were unpleasantly surprised to find that it was not so much as a resort-style fake beach, with lawn chairs laid out on icky Astroturf and a tiny, overcrowded strip of sand. The entry fee alone was 25 TL, though they offered us 15 when we began to leave. Still unsatisfied, we got back on our bikes and went back up the many hills, tired and hot. We also needed to use the bathroom, and found a small park on the top of the hill with an entry listed at 4 TL. We locked our bikes to a picnic table and used the washrooms, which were clean but offered the squat-variety of toilet, much to Cheyenne’s distaste (she’d never used one before—see below for her post-toilet reaction). When we finished with the WC we decided to take a walk around, and ended up spending several hours frolicking in the park.
Eventually we got hungry, and so we took the short route back to the main town and stopped for some more dinner. Naturally we made a pit-stop for some well deserved ice cream, then walked two streets in from the strip of overpriced restaurants overlooking the water and found a pleasant little restaurant, which offered massive portions of tasty food for only 12 lira (in Istanbul, it would have cost at least 25-30 lira). I ordered chicken wings, which came with pancakes, French fries, flavorful rice, a full salad and bread. The food was delicious, and filling enough that I was able to give some of the chicken wing fatty scraps to the impatient cats waiting near our table.
After dinner we rushed to catch the last ferry home, exhausted and a bit sunburnt, but happy to have a day away from the bustle and heckling of Istanbul. We took loads of photos, god some fresh air, and spent half the money we would have in the city, and overall had a great time. Highly recommended for any prolonged trip to Istanbul!