The Princes’ Islands

June 02nd, 2008  | Category: Travel

Burgaz Ada

First, an announcement. Words Without Borders is celebrating its Global Gourmet issue this month. They are featuring guest essays by food writers and bloggers from around the world. I am truly honored to be a part of this exciting gathering, celebrating and enjoying the stories shared by food enthusiasts.

Here’s a sample of what’s to come: Niloufer Ichaporia King (author of My Bombay Kitchen, which I am currently drooling over) walks us through old-world cafe dining in Bombay, Karen Coates reports on hunger, the food crisis and the legacy of improvisation it has created in Cambodia. Caroline Shin stays up all night and reports on midnight feasts in Buenos Aires, and Aun Koh wakes up and goes out hunting for the perfect roti prata in multi-culti Singapore. Alexandra Grigorieva holds forth on language in Russian food culture and Carolyn Jung connects with the past through homestyle Chinese cooking in San Jose.

The first essay is already online! Robyn Eckhardt gets the ball rolling with her essay on becoming a familiar face at her favorite restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. My post appeared today. Take a look!

Last week, we took a boat trip to The Princes’ Islands – a chain of nine islands off the coast of Istanbul, in the Sea of Marmara.

The Princes’ Islands are very popular destinations, especially during the summer months, for day trips from Istanbul. These nine islands are Buyukada (largest), Heybeliada, Burgazada, Kinaliada (closest to Istanbul), Sedef Island, Yassiada, Sivriada, Kasik Island (spoon island, named for its shape) and Tavsanadasi. You can take a short ferry ride to the first four and the rest are private and pretty much uninhabited.

Burgaz Ada

There is no traffic on the Islands, which makes them incredibly peaceful compared to the city. You can take ferry rides from both the Asian (at Bostanci and also Kartal) and European sides (from Sirkeci/Eminonu, Kabatas and Yenikapi) of Istanbul. Ferry services are provided by Istanbul Seabuses (IDO). You can check their website for timetables, which change every 6 months (website in English).

You can take long walks, ride bicycles, or take horse-drawn carriages (called fayton) to enjoy the scenery. If you happen to take the ferry from the European side (Kabatas ferry, close to Sultanahmet area), you can also enjoy Bosphorus, Topkapi Palace, Ayasofya, the Blue Mosque, Seraglio Point, and indeed all of Istanbul, from a different angle during the trip. You can also stay overnight on some of the islands (Splendid Palace Hotel in Buyukada is highly recommended).

We started our trip from Bebek, a district located on the Bosphorus line.

Burgaz Ada

Burgaz Ada

Our first stop was Burgazada for lunch.

Burgaz Ada

This was the scene right after we got out of our boat. The dock was packed with people waiting for the next ferry.

Burgaz Ada

They looked like prisoners and I thought I’d take a shot. Some of them got furious! I pretended to be a tourist, waved at them and said “Thank you”. Did it help? No. Good thing they were behind bars.

Burgazada has been a favorite getaway for Istanbul’s Greek-heritage residents for a century. It isn’t as popular as Buyukada, but definitely less crowded with fewer tourists. I wish I could tell you all about the extraordinary mezes and delicious fish dishes we ate at the restaurant… Unfortunately, the food was not memorable.

Burgaz Ada

But the beer was good! The fake roses were excellent!

Burgaz Ada

Burgaz Ada

How I wanted to brag about something I ate on the islands… Unfortunately, even the ice cream was not worth mentioning… The best part of the trip was the stroll along the seaside. It was so quite and peaceful.

Burgaz Ada

Burgaz Ada

Burgaz Ada

Burgaz Ada

Burgaz Ada

Burgaz Ada

Burgaz Ada

Burgaz Ada

Burgaz Ada

Our next stop was Buyukada, the largest of Istanbul’s Princes Islands. It is the most-visited and most-crowded island of all. There is lot to see and eat for sure. Just off Dock Square to the left is where you can board a horse-drawn carriage for a tour of the town. It would be the most delightful way to get around the island. You can also rent bicycles around the Dock Square.

Burgaz Ada

Burgaz Ada

A friend in our group has a summer house in Buyukada so we decided to stop by and enjoy a few glasses of wine at his balcony. Here’s the view:

Burgaz Ada

This wary seagull landed just next to me (and the snacks, which were obviously the closest to me) and let me photograph him without even moving a feather. He was rewarded with several peanuts.

Burgaz Ada

Burgaz Ada

Burgaz Ada
Burgaz Ada

On our way back, I photographed Maiden’s Tower (lower right). It is one of those landmarks that has been photographed to death. Glad to catch a snap that hasn’t been taken before.

Burgaz Ada

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  1. 1 - David on June 2nd, 2008

    That’s odd. Someone got mad at you for taking a picture?

    Hmmm. Are you sure you weren’t in France?

  2. 2 - Cenk on June 2nd, 2008

    They were furious! I admit I was nowhere near sober but I’m pretty sure we were in İstanbul. Maybe there were French people in the crowd?

  3. 3 - inga on June 2nd, 2008

    Lovely pictures! I was laughing at the “prisoners” being furious that you took their photo! Yeah, you’re right…glad they were behind those bars!

  4. 4 - Amanda on June 2nd, 2008

    When I saw that picture of the people behind the barricades, I thought that they were prisoners too. I was like, oh wow you went to a jail to take pictures?!

  5. 5 - Anona on June 2nd, 2008

    You have to ease up on the contrast and saturation, your pix are way too dark.

  6. 6 - Szerelem on June 3rd, 2008

    Such a lovely post! The photographs are, as usual, wonderful – especially the one of the Kiz Kulesi. I didn’t visit any of the Princess Islands though I spent two weeks just in Istanbul last summer – next time, which should hopefully be soon, I guess. It’s ridiculous how much I miss the place just looking at the pictures on your blog…

  7. 7 - Berit on June 3rd, 2008

    Cenk, your blog is always so gorgeous. I am in awe of all that you’re doing!

  8. 8 - MariannaF on June 3rd, 2008

    Wow, lovely writing and amazing photos! I NEED TO VISIT TURKEY!!! Everything you wrote and took photos of looks so beautiful, so inviting! Wish I could be there!!

  9. 9 - Hande on June 3rd, 2008

    Why didn’t you tell us a story of your own as you guide the readers through Ciya and Baylan? As far as i understand Kadıkoy and the places have always been there for you..perhaps since your school days..

  10. 10 - pixen on June 3rd, 2008

    Hi Cenk,

    wonderful pictures!!! hmm… I think those passengers thought your pictures made them looked like prisoners if appeared in newspaper or magazines? On the other side, amongst the group, there could be couples that were not supposed to be seen together 😛 You know what I meant…

    I love the adorable cats! The boat and the blue chair and blue buckets as well.

    French people don’t like their picts taken??? Really? I didn’t know that… I don’t mine being taken provided the photographer show me the picts taken and what is it for… and I want the copies of picts email to me in original size… 😀 Either am ugly or beautiful that my pict was taken…LOL

  11. 11 - mz on June 3rd, 2008

    Words Without Borders’daki yazin enfesti. Neredeyse gozlerim doldu. Hadi birak her seyi, tam zamanli bu isi yap! 🙂

  12. 12 - Cenk on June 4th, 2008

    Berit – Helloo!! I missed you a lot Berit! Congrats again on the engagement…

    MariannaF – Thanks! Hope you visit Turkey soon and please do let me know.

    Hande – I already told my own stories about those two places on my blog. Wanted the WWB post to be a little informative this time.

    Pixen – I guess it all depends on the mood of the person at that exact time. I usually ask permission before I take pictures but this time it was a group of people and I just couldn’t miss the opportunity 🙂

    mz – Çok teşekkür ederim 🙂 Beğenmene çok sevindim. Sanırım dediğini yapacağım, birazcık daha zaman var..

  13. 13 - Sylvia on June 4th, 2008

    I finished to read your post in Words without borders,also this post. Was a fabulous reading, truly. You must be proud in in be part of this.I had no comments about the photos, you Know what I think about 😀
    Congrats Cenk

  14. 14 - Cynthia on June 5th, 2008

    It’s a good thing they were behind bars indeed! 🙂

    Congrats on your piece in the Words Without Borders.

    Your photographs – they are poetic, they are art, they are life. Absolutely fantastic.

  15. 15 - Esra :) on June 5th, 2008

    great pics

  16. 16 - Shaun on June 10th, 2008

    Cenk ~ I LOVE Words Without Borders, one of my favorite sites. It was a nice surprise to come across the piece last week. How great that your message is spreading far and wide, leading us all back to your blog of homebaked goodies and wonderful photography of your life in Turkey. A lovely article, mate!

  17. 17 - April on June 12th, 2008

    Merhaba Cenk! – I saw your story yesterday in the SF Chronicle and wanted to check you out. I visited Istanbul some years ago (at my ex’s family) and loved it. We visited Buyukada one day, so your lovely pictures brought back some memories. Did I mention that I LOVED the food in Turkey?? I hope to go back one day…inshallah! 🙂 🙂

  18. 18 - "ULan Kerata" on August 15th, 2008

    Hey Cenk, in need of a little inspiration. Still at work must be quick so excuse any grammatical errors or anything else that sounds silly!
    I am off to Turkey on the 22nd of this month with my wife and 3yr old boy. We will be in Istanbul for 4days and was looking for some inspiration. I have been on numerous occasions ever since I was knee high but didn’t really explore until I was pretty much allowed to play out after dark!! I have pretty much done all the norm. the usual sites etc but now i’m looking for something a little more. I am an interior designer and my wife is a fashion designer and we do have Istanbul Modern first on our list of pleaces to see. We all love food and are prepared to travel long distances for good grub. I love Asian food and having a Vietnamese wife…. well you know the rest. I also have on my list one the House Cafe restaurants in Istinye designed by Autoban as purely an eploration of interiors and architecture may try food while i’m there, who knows. Anyway I did mention I was at work so better sign off before this turns into a book or I get sacked!!
    Look forward to hearing from you or anyone who may wish to help out a stranger….

  19. 19 - Cenk on August 15th, 2008

    Hi Cem – The list is too long. I’ll send you an email.

  20. 20 - Keryn on September 19th, 2008

    Gorgeous photos! Planning to visit all your recommendations, but I wonder what they will be like in January, too cold? Also can you tell me what lens you use? Excellent blog, thanks for sharing!

  21. 21 - Cenk on September 19th, 2008

    Hi Keryn – Thanks! I really do not recommend this tour in January, as it will be too cold. Maybe you can take a ferry to the Big Island (called Buyukada) only.

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