Istanbul: Day Five

An American, an Iranian couple, and a Macedonian-born Turk get onto a boat and all complain about their respective government representatives.

That’s not an intro to a joke. That is literally what happened to me this morning.

After making the decision to brave the cruddy weather and take the ferry to the Prince’s Islands, I sat down next to a window and was shortly joined by the Iranian couple, who were very sweet. The Persian woman, translated into English by her boyfriend, told me that I look just like a Turkish woman but she could tell I was foreign because of my backpack (Albania all over again!). Thanks to my friend Alex who got me the super foreign-looking backpack.

Next, we were joined by the Macedonian man. In an awful mix of Turkish, English, and Farsi, we introduced ourselves to each other. The Persian guy, Emir, stated that he was from Iran but made sure to emphasize that he didn’t approve of his government. I, who get curious questions about Trump quite often when I’m abroad, made sure to do the same. And then Mr. Macedonia went off about Erdogan. It was pretty funny; although we could barely understand one another, we were all laughing. At that moment I had the cheesiest sentiment: if the four of us can all get along, why can’t our governments, man? *takes a puff from a joint and passes it to the next person in the circle*

Obviously, world politics are more complicated than that, I just thought it was cute.

I got off the ferry at Buyukada Island, which in Turkish literally means “the big island.” Of the seven Prince’s Islands (four of which are inhabited), it is–you guessed it–the biggest. These islands are where they used to exile emperors who had been dethroned, and sometimes blinded. (OUCH. Seriously, though; Roman politics were Game of Thrones-level vicious.) I have to say, being exiled here wouldn’t be all that bad–assuming I still had my eyes, of course. It’s pretty beautiful.

As if by magic, the minute we docked at the pier, the clouds parted and the sun came out! I got lunch and then rented a bike, which is a popular thing to do. I had every intention of riding around the entire island, but the rental bikes are not exactly Tour de France-level equipment, and the roads on Buyukada are steep just as they are on the mainland. After my third time being forced to walk my bike up a hill, sweating profusely, I decided that maybe I should stick to the more leisurely flat streets with the pretty houses on them instead of battling the slopes.

Cars are forbidden on the island; the only vehicles I saw were garbage trucks and police. Everyone else walks, bikes, or rides the many horse-drawn carriages. It’s really peaceful and pretty, and offers some epic views of the other islands as well as the Asian side of the city. Also, they have gelato there. Do I need to say any more?

Tonight I hung out around Beyoglu and Taksim Square a little more and am in bed fairly early considering that the rest of this part of the city tends to party hardy (or is it hearty?) into the wee hours of the morning.

Tomorrow is my Stay at A Fancy Hotel and Do Nothing day, and honestly, I really need it at this point. Between jet lag, thin walls and loud streets at my hostels, and walking approximately 12 miles per day, I’m pretty beat. So don’t wait on the edge of your seat for tomorrow’s post, if I do one at all. But things will pick up on Sunday with the Besiktas district and Monday with the Turkish food tour of epic proportions!

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