Princes’ Islands of Marmara Sea
The other pleasant part of Istanbul is Adalar (Islands) strewn over the Marmara Sea. They are known as Princes’ Islands by foreigners because the rulers of the Byzantine Empire sent troublesome princes to these islands to rot away.
One can easily find a ferry to reach the islands, even in the winter. The islands are getting more and more crowded on the weekends during the summer season. We were lucky because we had a weekday to visit Buyukada (Big Island). We took a sailing boat belonging to our friend. It was a peaceful and relaxing day. We drove to Kadiköy–Fenerbahce on the Anatolian side of town and took the sailing boat from the dock at the Fenerbahce Marina. On the way to islands we were sometimes little bit anxious because of the large, fast ferries but our captain was experienced enough and had the official license to sail the boat. At first we saw the islands of Kinaliada, then Sedef, Burgaz, Heybeliada and finally, the largest one, Büyükada. This large island is well worth seeing. When you first step on land you will instantly notice the silence and peace. The quiet ambience of the island has been preserved over the centuries as no private motor vehicles are allowed, just a few cars, on the island. You can rent a bicycle or take a horse-drawn carriage (phaeton) or have a walk among the elegant 19thcentury houses and pine trees. Do not feel guilty about renting a horse-drawn carriage because the horses are very well cared for.
If you climb to the top of the hill, you will find the monastery of St. George still sitting there in all its grandeur. Next to the monastery there is a place to have something to eat and drink. Take the chance and rest a little bit. Look at the wonderful scenery of the sea and the island from a different perspective. You will also be impressed by the smell of the forest and the brilliance of the colors.
There are a few hotels as well, but if you want to spend a night on the island, make a reservation well in advance. What about swimming? There are small beaches and tiny bays along the coasts of the islands. Swimming is possible in the clean and cool water of the Marmara Sea.