A return to Buyukada (the largest of the princes Islands) had us exploring all those nooks and crannies (in the form of forests, an abandoned Greek orhpanage and Greek Monastery) we missed when exploring the island by bike.
A ferry from Kabatas had us at Buyukada (the largest of the islands) in an hour and a half. No mean feat for us living in the deep west of Istanbul, having already travelled for a good hour and a half to get there. Call it a one day mini-break.
The Greek orphanage is apparently the largest wooden building in the world. Even without this accolade its rather bloody impressive. I love urban exploring and so was a little disappointed that we were unable to get inside the building and have a proper explore.
In saying that the thing was half collapsed so it probably would not have been a good idea. The orphanage was located in what seemed to be somebody’s garden, their house enclosed behind a metal gate. I was tempted to ask if we could have a nose but my Turkish limited me to admiring the place from afar. The stories those walls could tell.
I was expecting something spectacular after walking all the way up the steep hill (Yuce Tepe) to get to the Greek monastery. On the outside its pretty underwhelming, other than the dome (above) its really quite ordinary. The inside on the other hand is really quite beautiful. Being raised a Catholic, the Greek Orthodox experience is rather different. It is a much brighter, more ornate affair. Think colourful chandeliers and block colour walls all laced with gold. Stunning. No pictures allowed.
The Victorian style architecture of the homes combined with the horse drawn carriages sans motor vehicles has one transported back in time to a place that no longer resembles Istanbul. A slice of a Greece now past perhaps?
Think trees galore (not limited to cedar and acacias) and horses roaming freely, alongside a version of calm one may have thought impossible to achieve in Istanbul.
Buyukada is definitely my favourite place in Istanbul. A getaway within the city limits. Finally I can breathe! Everybody should come here, if only for the car free experience.