As promised, here’s installment three!
We rose early on the third day and for breakfast we indulged ourselves in fresh bread, cheese, salami and olives which we had picked up from a local shop the day before. Yum!
We hopped on a tram to the dock of Kabatas and jumped on the next ferry to Adalar, the Princes Islands. These are located off the coast of Istanbul and it’s pretty easy to get there using the public boats. Services operate every hour or so, so it’s worth checking the scheduled times in advance to avoid having to wait around for ages before the next one.
We got to the first island, Kinaliada, after a long scenic boat ride and hopped off to do some exploring. This island has a gorgeous pebbly beach with the clearest water. The views are incredible and my ruddy iPhone camera could do it no justice. Never the less here are some of the pictures I took:
We went for a little paddle but the water was still quite cold so, wrenching ourselves away from the beach we headed in land and found ourselves climbing steep roads to the top of the island. Roads were often inclined at 45 degrees so pretty tough on our legs! It felt like walking on the highest gradient on a treadmill – only you can’t hold the sides to help you keep up! Breathless, with sore calves, we got to a little park before turning around and realising just how far we’d come!
With only a little time left till the next boat we headed back down to the ferry dock to make our way to the next island, Burgazada. The journey was short though I noticed this boat was considerably busier than the first. We hopped off, agreeing that we wanted a less strenuous time on the second island and took a leisurely stroll up what looked like the main street. We stopped at a little restaurant for some tea and plonked ourselves down outside, enjoying the sunshine and the view. Again, the water was so clear you could see schools of fishes as well as a worrying amount of, presumably harmless, small jellyfish!
Before we realised it, it was lunch time and time to hop on over to the next island. We decided to skip the third island so we could spend the rest of our day at the biggest and busiest one, Buyukada (I think that literally translates to big island). By this time, the boat was heaving. Very few passengers got off at Heybeli, the third of the Adalar Islands.
The fourth and final island was thriving comparatively. So busy with lots to do. We stopped at a sea front cafe for cheese toasties (Mr Man opting for a cheese and salami one) and fizzy drinks. We chose to sit outside where there were boats lined up ready for rental:
Refuelled and rested we began to make our way to the hub of the island. Motor vehicles are actually prohibited on this island, and so we were quickly able to locate a horse and carriage station? Not really sure what to refer to it as! Prices and the paths are fixed and you can take a short or a long tour with a stop in the middle for tea. Alternatively, you can rent bikes – however, I’m not sure as to how far I’d have gotten in the heat with already very sore legs!
There’s a lovely little cafe at this point with great views – we grabbed some freshly squeezed orange juice here and took a few more pictures:
Beautiful right? Although, that light does ruin it a bit!
After our tour we took a long stroll and decided it was high time for some lunch! We chose Orasi Burasi (can’t find their website, so that links through to their Facebook page) mainly for the view to be honest. Being on an island, I opted for a fresh salmon dish, and Mr Man went for the kofte:
Both were served with a round of chips and a basket of bread, though, some slices were a tad stale, and we also had to ask for butter… The salmon was overdone, and wasn’t deboned, which wasn’t what I’d expected, so I had to sit around hunting out tiny bones whilst my lunch quickly got cold! It wasn’t even seasoned but thankfully, it came with a wedge of lemon. Mr Man said the kofte were nothing special. As this restaurant was a little pricey, we concluded that we were paying for the view, as the food, whilst edible, wasn’t great by any means.
A little disappointed, we went off in search of something better for dessert. Back at the main square, opposite the ferry dock we stumbled upon sariyer dondurmacisi (again, no website – links to their Trip Advisor page), a little icecream place with a long queue – I just had to investigate! We got a three scoop cone to share, if I remember correctly it was nutella, caramel and blue heaven… These were unlike the other stretchy dondurma types we were used to and was really, really good! So good that I wouldn’t be surprised if these were made in house.
Icecream in hand, and ferry fast approaching the dock, we decided to hop on. We popped upstairs for the hour and a bit journey back, loads of people also had the same idea so it was pretty heaving. We were followed by some seagulls for a bit, it’s pretty cool just watching them effortlessly glide with the ferry. Soon these left and we looked up to a completely cloudless sky. Bliss.
Back at our hotel, completely knackered we popped out to the balcony where we enjoyed watching the sun go down with a bag of double hazelnut turkish delights from Koska. This stuff is absolutely incredible. It bares no resemblance to that horrible bright pink rose flavoured turkish delight that Cadbury’s have the nerve to stick into a bar of chocolate. These are soft, slightly chewy, intensely hazelnutty pieces of sheer contentment with pieces of roasted hazelnuts scattered throughout. They’re then dusted with equal parts cornflour and icing sugar. I can’t bang on about these enough! We brought back a bag of these and our stocks are already diminishing which makes me very sad! =( If anyone is planning to go to Turkey, EVER, please pick me up a bag, and I will love you, unconditionally, forever. =) In the mean time, I’m gonna give making these a crack in the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled!
After a long day out, we decided to stay fairly local for dinner and opted for the Hamdi Restaurant in Eminonu. In hindsight, it would have been ideal to have booked in advance so you can be seated on the top floor for the best of views. Unfortunately, we hadn’t anticipated this so were sat in the middle of the lowest floor…
We ordered a haydari as a starter to share, served with fresh warm flat bread. I opted for a chicken shish and Mr Man chose the lamb shish. Both were cooked to perfection, though, we both agreed that the chicken was the better of the two. Perfectly spiced, juicy and so tender – each bite was an absolute joy! In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s probably one of the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had my fair share of chicken shish! It was served with tomatoey bulgar wheat, though a little dry. The equivalent at Osman Kesap the day before was considerably better. There was also a side of parsley and onion salad, generously sprinkled with sumac. This is a pretty common spice for Turkish salads and it really perks up the onions.
It was a little bit of a strange experience for me in that it was a such fancy kebab house! Crisp, fresh white linen on tables, fancy glassware, multiple sets of cutlery laid out… The works! I felt a tad under dressed in my chinos but hey ho. Conceptually, so weird to eat a kebab at a high end establishment. That aside, food was amazing, service was impeccable and I really recommend this place. Well worth a visit.
We decided we needed a bit of a walk before dessert and so, paid for our bill and headed out. We stumbled upon a shop called Hafiz Mustafa and we’re lured in by the window displays. The staff here were frankly just plain rude. The shop is laid out with separate counters for their products, one for Turkish delights, one for baklava and one for pastries. You then take your purchases to the till and pay for the lot. We got a bit of everything though it was a chore getting the sales assistants’ attention, despite the shop being empty and even when being served, they were abrupt, rude and unhelpful. We walked back to the hotel, feeling slightly annoyed at the horrible customer service with our goodies in tow. In any case, the turkish delight was stale, the chocolate eclairs lacked flavour and were quite dry and although the baklava was good, it was far from the best we had on our trip.
And that my friends, is how we came to the end of day three, the half way point, of our trip. Hoping to have day out by midweek.