#sisTurkey Day 5: Buyukada & Night Life in Istanbul

Since we had covered most of the main sights during the first few days in Istanbul, Sister planned a fun trip to Büyükada, the largest of the Prince Islands. We hopped on the metro (for the first time since we got there!) to get to Kabatas, the dock where the ferry would depart from.

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From the perspective of a girl who has never lived in a major city, the metro system in Istanbul seemed pretty simple and definitely not as overwhelming as the subway system in NY. Not to mention, they do a pretty great job at labeling everything or putting in maps/pictures for us folks that are Turkish illiterate.

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Within no time, we had purchased our ferry tickets and hopped on board. Most of the outdoor seating had been taken, so Sister and I decided to plop ourselves near the stern of the boat. It seemed like something that wouldn’t really be legal in America. But, when in Turkey….

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The best part about this trip was that, on the way OVER to the island, we shared our ‘self-created seating area’ with the cutest Iranian crew. There must have been a total of 30 of them traveling together. And, as each new person walked through the doors to step outside and join us, the rest of the crew would scream and holler and clap. Within a few minutes, they were all standing in a circle, singing and clapping and pulling people in to the center of the circle to dance. I LOVED every second of it – they reminded me of my own family in so many ways and, in a place where I felt so foreign, it was nice to be reminded that you can find connections and similarities despite the language barriers.

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They only spoke Farsi. And we only spoke English and Hindi. So, with my hand gestures and flowery language, I attempted to tell them how much their family reminded me of my own. And I think they got the gist of it. They shared their sunflower seeds with us and gave us hugs when we got off the boat, so if anything, they could tell we really enjoyed their company. They definitely made the 1.5 hour boat ride quite entertaining! :)

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Right when we got off the boat, we were hit with a distinct smell – the combination of horse manure + delicious gelato ice cream. Because there were no cars allowed on the island, people would use bikes or horse carriages to get around. A lot of horse = a lot of poop. I tried to focus on the smell of the gelato, but the island pretty much stunk everywhere we went.

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(I ordered my first ice cream of the trip. It was good. But, I’m still not sure how Sissy can replace one of her whole meals with an ice cream cone).

Apparently, there’s a monastery hidden away at the top of the island. Sister and I started walking up one of the hills to search for it (props to Sissy for hiking up those steep hills in her Rainbows!) and came across some incredible lookout points. On our walk, we passed by a couple kiddos that were playing inside a chicken coop. Probably pretty smelly in there. But I loved that they were able to find entertainment in such a simple activity.

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Once again, my iPhone camera does not do justice. So, just trust me when I say that it was absolutely gorgeous.

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We thought we’d spend a few more hours on the island, but there wasn’t too much to do or see since all the beaches were private. So, we hopped on a 3:30 ferry back. We created our own seating again, on the side deck of the boat, and enjoyed the windy ride back to the city. Sister fell asleep and I attempted to read my book. But I got distracted while people watching and staring at all the sights along the water.

On our walk back to the hotel, we popped in to Asmali Cavit to make a reservation for that night. The guidebook highly recommended the restaurant and it was a 2-minute walk from our hotel! Sister and I went back and, while she went to the gym to do the stationary bike, I face-planted into the bed and took a nap. We both got ready by 8PM and walked back to the restaurant.

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We did manage to find a fairly decent bottle of wine. For 100 TL. (If I were going to spend that amount of money on a bottle of wine ANYWHERE else, the wine would likely be FANTASTIC). 

Istanbul Fail #8: 

Reading the menu in Turkish may result in receiving a steak (instead of the chicken that you thought you ordered).

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Oops.

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After dinner, Sister and I wanted to go explore some of the cute bars that were in the area so we ended up at a place called Ugly Bird. The alcohol at these places seemed pretty affordable – 5TL for a shot was pretty standard – but Sister and I wanted to stick with wine. Sister became fast friends with the guy who worked there.

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We didn’t stick around for too long – partially because his shift was up pretty soon (and he wanted to tag along with us. Um no thank you) and partially because we wanted to park it at a bar that had the World Cup on.

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We sat next to a couple of people who had just graduated from Duke Business School. They were doing a final hurrah! before going their separate ways for work. And Sister started talking to the people on the other side of us, one of which was a behavioral therapist for kiddos with autism. We all know how chatty I can get when there’s a fellow educator in the room. That, coupled with ALL the wine, can keep me going for hours and hours. But when USA lost, the festivities died down a bit, so we went back to our hotel shortly after. That ended up being a good idea because I had reached a point where the wine didn’t taste too bad. That should have been a clear-cut sign that I wasn’t allowed to have anymore. Thank goodness for Sissycakes who talked some sense into me and gave me the courage and support to put down the glass even though there was still some wine in it.

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Questions of the Day:

  • Gelato, ice cream, or froyo?
  • Steak or chicken?
  • Shots or wine? 

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