It was a gloriously sunny day as we made way to Kabatas to catch the ferry and as I alighted the Cable Car and spied the Dolmabahce Palace, I almost threw my days plans away and headed for this impressive building of absolute opulence. Thankfully M steered me back in the right direction and I earmarked Dolmabahce for another day. Once again we were gobsmacked at the size of the crowds at the ferry terminal. The LP Guide warns to give the Islands a miss on weekends as they are a hot favourite destination for the locals on those days, so it makes me wonder what day did the researcher do their trip, and if this is Monday, then Sunday must be an absolute squashathon! We paid the bargain price of 4Lira for the ride, then squished onto the ferry, fought for a seat, guarded it ferociously and enjoyed the views along the Asian side of Istanbul. Massive mansions and stunning Public buildings lined the shoreline, behind sat skyscrapers and blocks of apartments, it looked like there was some serious money there. From time to time, the ferry docked and took on more passengers - I have no idea how they all fitted - then the ferry dipped out towards the sea.
We could see quite clearly the Islands and it didn't take long before reaching the first island. There are 9 Islands in the Princes' group and the ferry stops at 4. The first Island was very hilly with sweet little white houses 'climbing' up the hills poking themselves over the green shrubbery that covered the hillside. Brightly painted boats lines the shoreline. The ferry stopped and a couple of people disembarked, not even making a dent in the crown number. We sailed on to the next, again only a few alighted. It was obvious those left were for the two 'touristy' Islands and it was very obvious the crowds were going to be big. Heybeliada came into view and we debated whether we should visit two islands or one for the day. (I am hopeless at making a decision and sticking to it....always wondering if I going to be missing out or making a wrong choice). From where we sat it looked very quaint with lots of white mansion size homes on the hills, lush trees and shop fronts lining the foreshore promenade. We pushed and shoved our way to the gangplank and with about 20others disembarked. As the ferry pulled away and we stepped through the turnstile, we instantly felt a peace and fell in love with Heybeli (as the island is fondly known). There was very little noise, just a bit of music that was coming from a shorefront restaurant and a jingling of bells somewhere from behind. To our left was a huge building with an amazing tiled mosaic which covered it whole front. I raised my camera to click away and received a "No Madam" which made me jump as I hadn't seen anyone around us. Right next to us on the other side of the fence was a chap in full military uniform and a very large gun. Turns out, right beside the public wharf is the navel academy, and it's two main buildings are gorgeous - impressive Victorian style architecture with beautiful laced fretwork and mosaics. I cannot get over the beauty of Turkey's mosaics, the colours and designs are out of this world! Besides the grand buildings, the grounds are also beautifully gardened.
It was here I saw the gorgeous carriages and the horses. A bygone era. I knew before coming that motorised vehicles weren't on the island except for service vehicles, but we had no idea how funky the service vehicles would be.
The local garbage truck was an oversized golf buggy with a tray, the same with the Telecom vehicle and the local electrician rode a bike with a trailer, complete with ladder and tool box - it was all so quaint and delightful to see. And goes to show you don't need a gas guzzler to get the job done! We returned to the village centre, found the street with all the shops and discovered a fabulous little bakery which made amazing coffee. I was finding the Turkish coffee a little to strong for me, we Aussies seem to love our milky coffees more than the strong thick black substance that is a favourite in Turkey. That said, I will drink Turkish tea until the end of time.....it is sublime.
Part of the way round we came past a type of 'memorial wall' only this was on a fence and it had a lot of plaques with the names and details of soldiers who had been killed because of terrorism. It was quite sobering to see as there were so many plaques. I knew nothing about this and was curious. Later I looked up what this was about and was shocked to see that Turkey had been dealing with an ongoing conflict since 1984. As a person who takes an active interest in world events and news, I was annoyed that this was not something that had come onto the news 'radar' in Australia, and it made me feel a little ignorant.
Within forty minutes of leaving the islands we were making our way around the Spice Bazaar near the New Mosque, which incidentally was built 1597 (only just yesterday.....), the smell and visual explosion was like a sensory overload and I didn't know what to do first, smell the spices or try and choose an array of Turkish Delight.
My sweet tooth won.