Princes’ Islands Where I Didn’t Meet Any Prince :-)
I’m always obsessed with something related to the Royals. I had no idea from where this idea came from. Probably, it came from children stories books which I read when I was little which always telling stories about happy ending stories, where the prince and princes living happily ever after eventually. The stories were vary, from land of Europe such as the stories of Snow White and Prince Florian in Snow Whites and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Prince ‘Charming’ Henry, Prince Adam in Beauty and the Beast. From the Middle East, I admired Princes Jasmine and Aladdin. And there was Mulan from China. Oh, I should mention Indonesian radio drama that I always listened during in my childhood, Saur Sepuh, which was telling stories of Madangkara Kingdom with Brama Kumbara as its king. Yeah, I was living in fairy tales.
Well, but still, no matter how hard I want so badly to meet the royals in the real life, It still didn’t work 🙂
Three years ago, I was a tourist in Istanbul in one of winter break. I read something about the place called Princes’ islands, near Istanbul. Since people can do daily trip to these islands, I decided to visit the island in following day.
“Well, I’m sure that you will enjoy your time in the island, Nurul. But I’m not sure you will find the Prince there.” Cem, the manger of hotel were I stayed in told me. Cem also explained me how to get to the island from Istanbul.
“No need to go with travel agent. You could just hop on the boat from Eminonu and the boat will take you directly to the islands”
I left the hotel and walked to the nearest tram station. While waiting for the tram, I saw two guys standing next to me, thus following me when I entered the tram. While I was standing inside the tram, one of the guy greeted me in Indonesian which made me so surprised. End of stories, this guy, named Arief is Indonesian and his friend, Junaid is South African. Both of them were working in Dubai and having holiday in Istanbul. Once they knew that I would go to the island, they asked if they could join me to the island. In the next minutes, they became my travel mates, going to Princes’ islands.
We hopped on to the boat, it took 90 minutes to bring us to Buyukada, the biggest island in the islands. We stepped out the boat and decided to walk to see how the island is. The island was not so crowded, perhaps due to winter. According to the review I read, during summer, this island could be so full of people coming from Istanbul. It is the good options for people living in Istanbul to get the nice weekend gateway or just want to run away from the hectic of big city for sometimes.
Princes’ islands are combination of nine islands in the Asian coast of Istanbul. There are five islands inhabited: Buyukada, Heybeliada, Burgzada, Kinaliada and Sedefada. The other four do not have any settlement inside. The name of the islands came from Byzantine period when the the royal Princes were exiled to those islands. In the 19th century, the islands became popular resorts for rich people, where Jewish, Greek and Armenian communities dominated the islands. Today, the islands are popular tourist destination with historical buildings and Victorian old wooden houses remain. Vehicles are not allowed to pass, with the exception for ambulance, sanitation and fire trucks. Therefore, people must walk, rent the bicycle or horse-drawn carriage to see the island. Most of summer houses are owned by the locals from Istanbul.
Most of houses were empty while we were there. But in the summer, it will be occupied by the owner or they will rent it to the guest who want to stay longer in the island. Some looks so old, therefore I am not really sure if there are still people coming to stay there.
As many places in Istanbul, the island was also equipped by mosques, churches, shops and restaurants. Nonetheless, the price would be a bit higher compared to Istanbul. No wonder, since all stuffs came from Istanbull, so there will be extra charge for the transportation.
According to the review, food could be more expensive in the island. But when we were there, we found that it’s almost the same with many restaurants available in Sultanhamet and Taksim. We even found a restaurant by the sea that gave us reasonable price for our lunch with fresh fishes that just came from the sea.
Arief and Junaid couldn’t stay longer since they had to catch the plane to return to Dubai in the evening, so we said good bye after having lunch together. I continued exploring the island by renting a bicycle that enabled me to see the island further for the next two hours. Buyukada is also famous with its ice cream. I got one to pamper myself, but it took me for almost 20 minutes to finish a small cone of ice cream in the middle of winter. Yeah, I know, I was crazy.
I visited the other island, Heybeliada, three years later when I was already citizen of Istanbul. As Buyukada, the island is also full with the summer house, and vehicles are not allowed to pass. The island is smaller and less crowded compared to its neighbor, Buyukada. Below, I included some photos that I took couple of month ago.
I was satisfied enough with my trip to Princes Island. Even though I didn’t meet any prince in the island, but I met Arief and Junaid, gentlemen that made my trips became more enjoyable. Nonetheless, I am sure, that I will meet the real princes and princess, someday 😀