Monday, July 27, 2015

Flashback to July 2012: Istanbul: Heybeliada Island

Take a carriage ride with me on Heybeliada Island, from this July 16, 2012 post

Monday, July 16, 2012

Istanbul: Heybeliada Island

Istanbul. Heybeliada Island.

Heybeliada Island: A highlight of my time in Istanbul.

The island is one of several in the group of islands called Princes' Islands. No cars on any of them. Transportation by foot, bicycle, and horse-drawn carriages. I did see a couple of motorized bikes which seemed to be powered by propane.

Incredibly, you can take the ferry to the islands for 2 lira or less (less if you've got the refillable metro card or button) each way. If you hop on-off the ferry at more than one island, then you'll pay for each leg. But still a fantastic bargain.

I selected Heybeliada Island for my journey because, based on my research, it seemed a little less crowded than the most popular (and largest) island of Büyükada.

Before getting on the ferry, I picked up a sandwich with boiled eggs, cucumber, tomato, and a little cheese. Got this from a vendor standing right in front of the ferry building entrance. Only 3 lira, another bargain. It was simple and good.

We made three stops before arriving at Heybeliada. The first was at a pick-up point on Istanbul's Asian side; the second and third were two of the Princes' Islands, which were packed with sunbathers and swimmers on the shores, as seen in the video below:

Got off at Heybeliada and immediately went to the strip of restaurants and stores behind the shore-front businesses. While I caught my bearings in the cool shade of a pocket park's trees, I consumed this:

Yes, it was the same delicious chocolate ice cream bar I'd enjoyed back here.

I checked out the horses in the carriage yard, thinking to take the grand tour for 50 lira.

Unlike the poor wretches in Nazret, the horses here looked reasonably healthy. In fact, Turks must love horses, given the number of kisses I saw bestowed on them by Turkish men and boys.

I took a look at a horse being re-shod. Later, I discovered that tire tread is attached to the traditional horseshoes. Good or bad? I don't know.

Istanbul. Heybeliada Island.

Istanbul. Heybeliada Island.

I signed on for the grand tour around the island at 50 lira, which was about $28. It was lovely, well worth the cost. Would be very romantic for a couple.

Two videos of my ride below (also linked here and here). Understandably, they're a bit shaky. I like hearing the accompanying sounds - the hooves on pavement and the squeaking of the carriage.

During my ride, I saw: 
  • Shady pine woods that invite you to lay out a cloth, stretch out on the soft bed of pine needs, and have a picnic; 
  • Change-out of our horses at the top of the island;
  • Old-style houses that overlooked the sea, set within colorful courtyard gardens; and
  • Sea views of nearby islands  

If I were to ever come this way again, I'd spend two nights on this island. I'd walk up the hill through the pine forest and have that picnic. I'd get my provisions at one of the many fruit and vegetable shops in the town center. I'd rent a bike for a few hours and tool around. I'd sit on a hillside or a balcony and look out at the water. 

As it was, I went for lunch, choosing a plain cheese omelet that was a little heavy on the oil (a similar culinary malady suffered in Georgia), but with a good, pungent white cheese. And no harassing waiter. 

I looked into some shops and then moseyed my way to the ferry dock (after a side trip to a WC) where I discovered I'd arrived just in time to board. Sometimes life just works out that way. 

A slide show below:

On the ferry ride back to Istanbul proper, the ferry was packed. (I can only imagine what it must be like on a weekend.) No seat for me, the price one pays for choosing Heybeliada Island instead of Buyukada Island, which is at the beginning of the return route to Istanbul (and Heybeliada the 2nd). I was lucky to find a spot on the floor of the uppermost deck. I had a front row view of a dramatic row between some passengers and the ferry crew, about what I have no idea. It broke up an otherwise dull ride.

What would world travel be without inexplicable but riveting arguments on the street or in public transport? Especially when bystanders add their 2 lira, lari, or birr.

No comments: