We debated back and forth whether to go on a cruise up the Bosphorus. There’s something offputting about the Offers on every street corner down at Eminömü, towards the Galata Bridge and the piers. Just 30 euro each for a six hour cruise, they say, and I don’t know which I’d miss, more the euro or the hours. We decided instead to spend 1.75 Turkish lira on a ferry ride to the Princes’ Islands/Adalar, a small archipelago in the Marmara Sea where members of various royal families who were out of favour over the millennia have lived and died in exile.
It was a bit more than an hour, across the mouth of the Bosphorus and then out into the Marmara. There are four inhabited islands, of which we went ashore on the second biggest, Heliabatsu. Fabulous views of Istambul’s minaret-ful skyline, of the Asian side, the still,sea and the cloudless sky, and once were ashore, we walked through picturesque narrow streets where the only motor vehicle allowed seemed to be the fire engine – tourists of every stripe rode past us on bikes and horsedrawn carriages. With the help of a complimentary map from one of the many kebab shops, we went in search of the synagogue and a famous old church. We had no success, but we did pass by a number of spectacular wooden houses:
We saw Karl Marx as pirate on a wall:
And there was quite a bit of stuff on sale. These floral crowns are everywhere, and that sign is pronounced tatch, not tack.
Heliabatsu was home to two famous poets, who are commemorated by special benches along the waterfront:
And then there was this:
Maybe this is the place for a paragraph about cats and dogs in Turkey. They are part of every streetscape, and don’t seem to belong to any particular human or household. Many of the dogs have plastic tags in their ears to indicate that they are participants in the canine population control program, and some have collars, but I’ve only seen one on a leash. Most of the cats seem to be well looked after. I’ve seen one of them on a leash too, tied up outside a baklava shop. I’ve seen three young men watching a fourth playing with a tabby with a foot. Tourists ooh and aah over them. One evening when we were eating dinner on a terrace we watched a man on a roof below us pursue a wild kitten, grab it, and place it on a high spot next to a bowl of food, then stalk its mother with similar intent. It’s one of the many unadvertised attractions of this country that it’s full of purposeful dogs and independent cats, living more or less harmoniously with humans.
We caught the fast ferry back to town – 6 Turkish lira each.