NOTE: Additions to the text in red were added during the report compilation, for the website.
NOTE: Sharon's comments will be in {curly brackets}.

Friday, November 28, 2008. Travel to Princes' Islands. Day 12 of 21.

Here is what one source on the internet has to say about the Princes' Islands:

"There are a total of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara not far from the city of Istanbul, known as the Princes' Islands, as they served as the place of exile for many a disgraced prince in days gone by. Only four of the nine are inhabited - Kinaliada, Burgazada, Heybeliada and Buyukada. However most are in fact 'summer houses', used seasonally by some of Istanbul's wealthier inhabitants. As the use of cars, trucks or motorcycles are banned here, the only vehicles to be seen are bicycles or horse and carriages - the most pleasant way of touring the island."


Princes' Islands, in Relation to Istanbul, the Bosphorus and The Sea of Marmar (Maps from


Summary of the Four Major Islands - Buyuk, Heybeli, Burgaz and Kinali.

The Main Island is Buyukada ('ada' means island). This is the islands' in-and-out jumpoff point. All major shuttles to and from the mainland go through Buyukada. Then you either stay on that boat to another island, or change boats. Cihan's prep school, and the island we stayed on is Heybeliada. Sunday we did day stops on Burgazada and Kinaliada.

I would add a couple of things.

1) Service companies, the police and the military have cars and trucks on the islands, but regular citizens can't.
2) There is a four-year prep school (high school) before the naval academy. So a young man who wants to apply to and go to the naval academy begins not at the college freshman level, but at the HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN level! This takes place at the naval academy prep school on the island of Heybeli ('ada' means island). Thus, Heybeliada.
3) There are only two such pre-naval academy prep schools in the world, according to Cihan. One is in Turkey and the other is in Russia.
4) Cihan went to this prep school and to the naval academy where he finished second in his graduating class.
5) The first year of prep school is nothing but English.
6) There is a military hotel on Heybeli, and Cihan pulled some strings to get us into the hotel with him and Tara. It is supposed to be nicely elegant and cost the exorbitant price of about $7 a night! That's the kind of perk Turkey gives to its military personnel.

Cihan goes off to work, and the three remaining weekenders pack and prepare for the trip.

About 11 am, Sharon spots a bird through the living room window and four floors below that she thinks may be another spotted flycatcher. I double check, spot it, but its tail has rusty outer tail feathers. We check our books and settle on a female REDSTART.

Time flies when you're having fun, and 3:30 pm finds us four on the luxurious EFE TOURS (the bus company's name, like Greyhound) bus, passing through the town of Karamusel, on the shores of the Sea of Marmar, aka Marmara. Cihan says he practices his passion, spearfishing, in these waters.

Sharon says, "Oh look, there's a clown - no, several clowns. And a camel!" My theory is that it's a party, where they invite things that start with a 'ku' sound. Cihan's theory is that it's a circumcision ceremony, though it's more than a theory. {At about age 8 or 9, the boys here get circumcized and there are always great ceremonies including, we have seen, the boy all dressed up like a sultan being driven through the streets with everyone honking their horns for him. Probably makes up for the experience of being circumcized, right? HUH?}

By 4:00 pm, we have traveled westward along the edge of Marmar to a port called Yalova. Many boats travel in and out here, headed across the sea, to Istanbul and numerous other locations. We are going to take a fast ferryboat (Hizli Feribot, in Turkish) to the Asian shore of Istanbul, to a port called Kartal. And from here, we'll take another boat to our destination, Heybeliada, and the military hotel.

We have "Tost", which is actually melted cheese between two pieces of toast. Don't order "toast" for breakfast, unless you want a delicious melted cheese toasted sandwich. Plus soft drinks. All this while we wait for our feribot.


Walking over to the Ferry Building

We go over to the ferry building, buy our tokens (gettone) for 7 ytl each - about $5, then we go through the turnstiles after depositing our tokens into their slots. Then we wait. Sharon and I observe a few coots in the water and a shag on a lightpole. We also observe this old, old, rusted out, on-dry-ground I'll-call-it-a-boat. Some men are welding and cutting pieces of metal off of the boat, and we understand that they are dismantling it. At this rate it'll take them forty years or so, we estimate.


The High and Dry is not our Boat (we hope).

The Feribot arrives, we get on, and make our way to the rear, where we take our rest in sorta-like-airline-seats. Some of us take naps while others make it through the 30 minute ride awake the whole trip.

Inside the Feribot

We dock at Kartal and unload onto the shore, then make our way along the walkway to another, much smaller boat, and get on it. It is a cool little boat, and seems to have an affinity for eggs. We call it the Egg Boat.


Eggs Eggs Eggs


Cihan takes pictures of Sharon and me, one with the missing tooth smile and one with the hidden missing tooth smile.


As granddaughter Mikayla likes to point out, "Grandpa, you could eat a cherry and spit out the seed without opening your mouth."


Still On the Egg Boat

As we're crossing the water to Heybeli, Cihan asks about my digital voice recorder, to which I say it has four folders, A,B,C and D. Each can have 99 voice recordings of any length, but the sum of ALL recordings across ALL folders must be less than 24 hours. Everybody starts asking the "Yes, but what if..." questions, all of which I handle clumsily. We're a little travel-affected and we get the giggles. Finally Cihan starts recording our questions and answers, but then stops recording with, "I'm not sure the electric circuits in the recorder can handle all this." {I notice a little boy, about 3 years old, who is watching two little girls who are playing with little cars. He would like to play too but doesn't say a word. Then his mother moves him to another seat and he gets restless. At one point he is playing with the door to the outside and his mother keeps telling him "no". Suddenly, he gets the door open and starts running along the deck. There is a railing but not a solid barrier. His mother takes off after himl. As he runs by our window, I see on his face such a look of joy and mischief, all lit up. A deck hand also pursues him and he is caught and safe. But for a moment he was in heaven. Little boys, the same around the world.}

Our boat makes it to Heybeli, and leaves us as I click off a photo.


The Egg Boat leaves us.

We walk up to the military entrance, and Cihan introduces himself to them. We enter and I click off a few more photos while we wait for the shuttle Cihan has arranged to pick us up down here, and take us to the upper elevation of the hotel, {saving us a walk up a steep road with all our bags. Thanks, G.}


Naval Prep School and Military Property Entrance.


One of the Two Beautiful Murals on one of the High School Buildings. This one is of the "new" navy. Tomorrow I'll show you the mural representing the "old" navy.

Our shuttle arrives, and a young sailor drives us up to the military hotel. We check in and I take this photo from our balcony. That is one of the other islands in the distance (Buyukada I think, where we've just come from). {I think this is actually a view of the Asian part of Istanbul from which we just came but Bob and I will discuss this. Wait for it, wait for it...}. Maybe she's right. I said MAYBE.


Night View from our Hotel Balcony. The tall white mast at right is symbolic, set in concrete, it is not on a boat.

We go down to the restaurant and have a very nice dinner of tomato soup, lamb shish-ka-bob (Sharon and I call it lamb shish. There is a letter, the 's' but with a little hook hanging down from the bottom of the letter, that is pronounced 'sh'. So they spell it sis, the s's with descenders), peeled sliced tomatoes and french fries for me, then spend the rest of the evening in the bar. Cihan and I have a fufu drink of some kind, but they don't have any tiny umbrellas. Dang. We have a pleasant rest-of-the-evening conversation, just the four of us, with lots of laughing and ideas for the rest of the weekend.

Then it's off to bed.

Birds: Redstart


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