22.05.2009 - 22.05.2009 31 °C
Being in a hostel that has very thin walls, it was unlikely I would sleep through the call to prayer. Even still, I slept like a log and rolled the same in my slanting bed. We (Rachel and I) climbed three flights of stairs to our breakfast which was not the most flash but the view? First class! Rachel was brave enough to try one of the fluorescent coloured granules which we think were sweet tea. The choices? Fluro yellow, orange or pink. I stuck with the less than impressive Nescafe. I swear if I come back craving nescafe I'm going to sue Turkey!
From our hostel we walked to the tram which took us to Kadikoy for a quick dash onto the ferry that was just leaving. Ahhh....Princes' Islands here we come.
The first island we jumped off at was Heybeliad. We walked the long (and mostly uphill) way to the Haghia Triada Monastery...it was closed so we sat amongst the pine trees where I cracked open my stolen boiled egg from breakfast. After 45 minutes we headed back to Haghia Triada only to work out (with sign language) that it wasn't open to the public anyway. Hmmm...that's a long hike to look through a fence. But it made me feel better about the baklava I ate the night before.
Oh I forgot to mention that part of the attraction for the islands is that it really only has two forms of transport. Bike and fayton (horse drawn carriage). Now for those of you who know of my unfortunate history on transport with two wheels - imagine my reluctance when it was mostly uphill, on hired bikes of dubious stability and on uneven cobbled stones. Now I'm happy to laugh at myself but that would have just gone beyond funny. So the other option fayton? Well, the health of these horses were varied and some where down right distressing. And seeing these oblivious tourists being pulled up steep hills by horses that were more skeletal than meat...well it was nauseating (whichever way you spell it!).
So on foot we were and on the way down we decided to do some old fashioned Aussie bush bashing. Generally in Turkey I've been so impressed with how clean it is. Not so in the bush bashing expedition. There was rubbish everywhere and poor Rachel had an unfortunate encounter with an atrophied very much dead cat. She was a little jumpy after that - understandably.
The cat and rubbish aside the walk was beautiful with butterflies flittering everywhere and loads of wild flowers. Have I mentioned how glad I am that I came here at this time of the year? After a little worrying moment when we thought we had gone way off track we found the road and even a place to squeeze through the barbed wire to get to it.
Now such a trip surely deserves a Fistik Magnum! Well we thought so. Back in the town we enjoyed our Magnum as Rachel told me again of her friend who works in the department of Magnums and how she was going to insist she bring it out in Australia. I'm not so sure though...I'm not sure a diet of Fistik Magnum would be so good for me. I'm averaging one a day here!
A quick lunch at one of the many restaurants on the water we then jumped back on the ferry to the next Island Buyukada. I can't put the accents on the letters with this computer but it is pronounced booyookada. So I had that annoying song in my head - barakuda. Actually that has been an strange development whilst I've been travelling. I seem to be experiencing things in song! Someone says a line and I get the corresponding song in my head.
Back to Buyukada. Walking was the name of the game on this island too. This time we were walking passed houses that looked like they would be better situated in the deep south of America. Apparently this is a holiday destination for rich Istanbul residents - sort of like Portsea in Melbourne.
Still more skeletal horses ran passed us looking like they belonged more in some wes craven animation than in Turkey. But we still managed to enjoy the beautiful walk through pine trees. Even when the hill got ridiculously steep. Rachel compared me to a boot camp instructor. We trudged up this hill passed trees with all sorts of things tied to them. At first glance they may look like someone trying a whole lot of rubbish onto the trees since most of it was toilet paper, water bottle wrappers and random string. But in actual fact each of them represented prayers. We were making our slow and arduous journey to the top where the monastery of St George was situated. Hence the prayers. We have been told that most of the prayers are of couples praying for the gift of a child. Suddenly the many ties of toilet paper became beautiful dreams of thousands of couples.
Still...our journey continued. When we finally reached the top it took us probably ten minutes before we could even bring ourselves to focus on anything but catching our breath and falling into a chair. Once that passed we saw that the climb was truly worth it. The vista was magnificent. And this monastery you could enter!
But the treat for us was sitting at the top of this climb enjoying an Efes in the shade. Well earned and very well appreciated.
Our walk back was considerably less tiresome. We watched (or tried not to) the numerous faytons galloping past us up the hill, obviously for a wedding.
Oh and look at that - we got back into the town with enough time to enjoy another ice cream. But not a Magnum. Boysenberry, lemon and pistachio. Sigh....I watched a family playing with their two dogs and waited for our ferry to arrive.
We jumped on and relaxed into our seat as we took off...
...um, where are we? Did we get on the right ferry? We seem to have been on here a long while. I'm sure it didn't take us over an hour to get to the islands. Don't we need to be over there?
Ahh the joys of travelling. It took us 2 hours to get back to Kadikoy! (it took us about 20 minutes to get to the islands)
Two hours later we did arrive at the port we first left - obviously just by the scenic route. What a big day. We found a lovely restaurant which was written up in the Lonely Planet. Though we were a little concerned about it being on the 6th floor after doing so much climbing but they had a lift!
I had the speciality which looked like sausage rolls but tasted so much better. We had a single musician and a stunning view - what more could you ask for?