A Beautiful Disaster

Sunday, August 23, 2015

On Thursday, our director of student affairs had planned a walking tour to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and a couple other sites on the Historic Peninsula (for reference, my apartment is north and across the Golden Horn from the Historic Peninsula). Unfortunately due to the attack at the Dolmabache Palace our tour was canceled, as Ezgi (our director of student affairs) thought it would be a good idea to avoid sites that foreign visitors often visit.

So that begged the question, what were we going to do with our free time?

Our Turkish teacher had mentioned the Prince Islands, a chain of four islands located off the coast of the Asian side of Istanbul. After doing some cursory research, several other students and I decided to spend the day there.

The ferry ride was absolutely beautiful. It took as straight down the Bosphorus and provided an excellent view of the History Peninsula. It took about an hour to get to the third island, Heybeliada, and in the mean time we enjoyed a view of the Marmara Sea and the coast of the Istanbul.
Upon arriving we made the rather steep and arduous hike to an 11th century Greek Orthodox monastery/school. Unfortunately we got there around closing time so we weren't able to see much, but while we were there we walked through the garden, admired their collection of chickens and peafowl, and the lovely architecture.

We were all hot and tired at this point and were hellbent on finding somewhere to swim. So we hiked back down to the coast and spent a good hour and a half trying to find somewhere we could take a dip. We soon discovered that beaches were very limited, and the ones that were available required an fee to get in that none of us wanted to pay. In the end we gave up and decided to find a restaurant for dinner. All seemed well until our water got pooped on, as well as a member of our entourage.

At that point we were all ready to go home. As we went to the docks we saw that there were four different ferries to choose from, but we had no idea which one to take. In the end we picked one, figured out it was going to the wrong place, ran to another one, only to find out it was the slow, scenic ferry and the original one we boarded would have taken us to the right place if we had waited for fifteen more minutes.

But the ferry ride back was enjoyable and relaxing, and we almost made it back to the apartment without any issues. Except for the fact that we all got hopelessly lost. Thanks to the help of a hotel concierge we were finally able to make it back around ten at night, at which point we all passed out.

Overall, this trip was a hot mess, but honestly I wouldn't have it any other way. The island was absolutely beautiful, and we learned what not to do the next time we stop by for a visit. Heybeliada was well worth the bird poop and exhaustion. All these mishaps simply add to the adventure!

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