The hassles and bustles of Istanbul came to their completion with a scrum for the one of the regular ferries to the Islands. It turned out to be unnecessary, though because it wasn't that full and there were plenty of seats. The journey was calm and pleasant except for the occasional waft of diesel fumes and a fractious child behind me.
First impressions of Buyukada were not great; but this just turned out to be the feeding frenzy of merchants surrounding the arriving boat. The island itself is small, calm and relatively peaceful. They have no cars except for essential services; this means lots of bikes and the ever present smell of horse dung which, thankfully, I have become used to now.
The place is lovely (with a few cheesy bits --- the noises upstairs sound distinctly like people dancing to a Hammond organ). Most of shops and resturants are focused around the ferry terminal; the most utilitarian shops like the supermarkets, fruit stores and emergency horse carriage shops are a couple of hundred metres away. Further out, it's residential. After that most (about 2/3s) of the island is still covered with pine woodland, with a couple of roads that you can hire a bike and cycle around. At the very top, there's a Greek orthodox monastry to which there is a steep, windy and cobbled road; murder in the warm local weather.
It's not an island for beach lovers; there don't appear to be many. Near the hotel most of the access to water has been turned in concrete piers often tied to private housing. There are a few places you can get into the water, though, which is murky but clean. In short, there's not that much to do here except to chill out, walk around and eat. Perhaps the place is the better for this.
We've lucked out this time on hotels. The Marine House hotel feels relatively new, making it well furnished inside. The staff have been friendly and efficient, including welcome juice cocktails when we arrived, followed by wine, fruit and dipping chocolate room service, soon after. It's also central and cheap. My general feeling of this place is that the vast majority of the visitors are Turkish; I guess that they the hotel is starting out and actually cares about repeat custom.
Home tomorrow (if the flights work). Looking forward to it.
Written on 17/07/2009