Visiting Büyükada Island in the Sea of Marmara

When Andrew told me that we were going to visit Turkey’s Princes’ Islands, I figured it sounded like a great day to wear a white strapless dress.  It sort of wasn’t though… because I am so pale, and have a tremendous need to remain so.  It’s either blindingly pale, or red and crispy (and painful).  There is no other option for me, and so I choose pale and pasty (and pain-free).  And exposing so much of my pale, pale skin to the sun’s brutal rays had me freaked out of my mind.  Honestly, I spent the majority of our time on this day leaping from shadow to shadow (like a ninja, hiding from the sun!) or slathering on the most powerful sunscreen I could find.  But we did have one moment of serenity by the seaside, in which Andrew took this picture of me:

princes islands

A moment of quiet by the Sea of Marmara, with Istanbul in the distance.

It looks nice from far away, but up close I was a sunscreen-slathered mess.  This is how I learned that this strapless-dress-while-in-the-direct-path-of-the-sun’s-harmful-rays thing is just not for me.

Anyhow!  The morning of July 12, 2007, found us aboard a ferry on our way to Büyükada Island, which is the largest island of Turkey’s Princes’ Islands, which are located in Asia.  So I was very excited to be able to say that we were now going to spend our day in Asia.  It was just gorgeous.

There are no cars on these islands — everyone either walks, bikes, or uses horses.  And so, we took a horse-drawn carriage ride:


Yes, that above is our chosen mode of transportation on this day.  Together with the heat, the smell of the horses was not awesome.  I very much felt like I was back on the farm.  And so… because I am at heart a farm-girl (albeit an unusual one), I wasn’t entirely repulsed by the scent.  Also, the main thing was that we were not walking in the extreme heat, and the carriage did offer some shade, for which we were very grateful.  It was quite a surreal day, actually.  Being on the island, where there are no vehicles, and just the feeling of being surrounded by the sea, and seeing all the Ottoman-era mansions, was unlike anything else I’d encountered before.


Leon Trotsky’s home while in exile on Büyükada from 1929-1933.

I found it difficult to know how to line up a photograph, because the island is extremely hilly… Trotsky’s mansion above was sort of on the side of a hill… and honestly I just wanted to snap the photo and get out of the sun.  That was my main goal for the day.

The brutally hot sun left us quite exhausted.  We did find some refreshment at an ice cream shop, but our relief only lasted as long as the ice cream did… so, not long.

We hopped a ferry back to the mainland, and I wrote in my journal, “The sun takes a lot out of you, but we’ve been diligent with sunscreen, so we’re still nice and pale.  Better than red and crispy!”

And that, my friends, was my experience on Büyükada Island.  I think we would’ve had a more comprehensive, relaxed experience if I had dressed more appropriately.  I mean, if I want to hide from the sun, then I need to cover my shoulders.  DUH.

Also, I remember realizing that there are hotels there… and I felt a stab of jealousy of the tourists staying there on the island.  If you’re planning to visit Büyükada Island, it might be worth it to check out accommodations there.  Just my two cents, anyway.  Though personally, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I look nice in that picture Andrew took of me, and we didn’t have to haul our luggage around.

Really, my only regret is that we didn’t stay longer.


2 responses to “Visiting Büyükada Island in the Sea of Marmara

  1. I love that picture of you in the dress looking out over the water! I can’t believe this trip was already almost 8 years ago! And, I agree, that ice cream makes everything better and is very refreshing. 🙂


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