The Princes’ Islands: Heybeli Ada
We’ve kind of bonded with a few people that have been here since we arrived, and one of them, a Syrian, suggested we visit the Princes’ Islands.
A neighbor also suggested it and we made loose plans to go together.
A bit of details: there are 9 islands, but only 4 that are visited. No cars are allowed. You can rent bikes, rent a horse taxi or walk. We opted for the 3rd island, Heybeli (‘Ada’ means ‘island’), pretty much on a whim.
I managed to survive the ride, in the city to the ferry, with only one minor shoulder scrape into a parked car and one near-miss with a rather slow tourist.
Not my fault.
We’d gone too far, so had to take a ferry to get the right ferry. A lot of confusion, thanks to the helpful Information booth that sent us to buy bus tickets.
The seagulls on the way there were pretty insane, and I’ve got a bird fixation, so I took tons of photos of the little searats.
When we arrived on Heybeli Ada/Heybeliada, the first thing we noticed were the restaurants on the mini-wharf with painted ‘no cycling’ signs on the walkway.
And a man cycling across them.
Lots of doesn’t-quite-fit things, like the Colonial architecture that reminded me of run-down southern mansions. Or the horse carriages, and the loose horses running around.
We rode the full length of the island, pausing a few times for photos. And breath for me, I was dying.
Island hills are not my friends.
We also saw the military compound (it takes up at least a 3rd of the island) that was uber-creepy and issued with the standard gun-toting guard.
We found out there wasn’t a campground available, but we could camp, wink, wink if we were careful. We’d seen a few semi-empty beaches, and on one picked up a stray dog that Armando dubbed Funky.
Further Reading: The Street Dogs of Istanbul
Armando fished awhile, but it looked like a storm was rolling in so we wanted to get our home base. We bought a few supplies and went the same route we’d taken, hoping for an anonymous camping place.
We found a completely abandoned and secluded beach, with lounge chairs still set up from the summer crowds.
A small shack was at the end, wrapped in blue tarps, officially closed for the season. Perfectness.
It was the first real silence we’d had for almost two weeks. It was a necessity at that point, for both of us, to be embalmed in calm.
It began to rain, we ended up sleeping in the tent praying for better weather since it’d been bone-cold chilly for most of the avo and evening. It was freaky, I’ll be honest. We shouldn’t have watched the ‘Chernobyl Diaries‘ the week before and we couldn’t stop making comparisons with Psycho/Lost/the Island of Dr. Moreau… The night-time sounds were scary. Sometimes there can be too much silence.
The next day was a Hair moment: Let the Sunshine In, with a grin. We opted for the second beach we’d found, to get direct sunlight and just lounge.
Just a few days ago, we were in bathing suits wading in the sea.
Amazing. It was a nice afternoon- he scrounged through some fisherman castoffs, finding a metal fish holder; a weird grill; tons of pieces from a net for his new street project. I found shells and stones for some jewelry I want to make. Two old fogies passing a sunny Sunday.