not far from istanbul

here's the deal, istanbul is amazing not because it's istanbul, the cliche everyone uses, you know the one about how istanbul brings the old with the new, it's the fact that things to do in istanbul never get exhausted. especially when one has adventurous friends like John.

John had been to Buyukada and had done plenty of exploring on the island. but he had never been to the island with moi :) one thing i learned from that trip was never to go on a Sunday that falls on a holiday. we happened to go on Father's Day and that was a mistake. the boats that left from kabatas was crowded enough that we even thought going was not a good idea. but both of us being hungry for a story we lept on the boat that had filled to capacity and was continuing to be filled. security boarded and stopped people from boarding. we were standing on the ropes when teenagers gave us their seats. yabanci treatment. it works when you want it to.

the boat ride was an hour and half, quite pleasant. next to us was a couple who had adopted a puppy and it looked like it was a little seasick. cruising by the other islands, hearing the familiar "cay! juice!" yells and of course just being on the sea was exhilarating. once we got on the island we rented bicycles for 15 liras each; John changed bikes quite a bit because the brakes were not that great. i got the girly bike with the basket. i felt like Mary Poppins. anyhow off we went dodging the horse shit all over the roads. extremely disturbing to see since all of them had these kaka baskets under them to prevent shitty roads.

Buyukada reminded me a little of the coast of Georgia. there was a map of the trails which i was impressed with and landmarks that were helpful. what one should know is that beaches that are close to the trails are over- crowded. john and i were in search of off- road trails that you only noticed if you were paying attention to what was on the edge of the mountain. we saw such a trail, parked our bikes and hiked down to only see that plenty of other people had the same intention as ours. we dipped our toes and knew we had to find a more isolated cove.

and we did! it was a cove that John had discovered in his previous visits. further up the long trail we jumped over a wall, hiked down a rocky cliff and found ourselves in a cove that could only remind one of Gumbet, Bodrum or even the beaches of Kas that one cannot go down to. there was a man fishing, a family hanging out on their own and the yabancis. little did they know that John knew the spot oh so well. we hiked a little up over a rocky area to find ourselves a smaller cove where we could comfortably sit and chat on a flat stone and swim in clear green freezing waters. after some sun and swim we headed back to downtown Buyukada for food. one will notice how my trips with John involve nothing more than swimming trunks and an intention to simply Be.

another place to getaway from istanbul on those days that you don't want to do anything but not stay at home either is to go towards Kilyos. towards Kilyos but not Kilyos itself. again on weekends it is "vıcık vıcık" (way too over- crowded for my taste) and base disco partisani kind of music that would make one flee. normal transportation goes there but not very often. best to borrow a friend's car for a day. driving through Belgrad forest on the way to Zekeriyakoy, seeing aquaducts, trees as old as your grandma's grandma... my eyes were relieved just to see green and smell pine. a drizzle and one has a total experience of being surrounded by natural beauty. felt like i was on holiday.

we arrived in Kilyos and saw a bazillion people on the beach, in the parking lots, on the roads. i instinctively knew there had to be other options. especially when options involved 30- 50 liras entrance per person! we fled the scene. we drove by 5 or 6 beaches and gauged from the view that there were more that we could discover. my theory was, the farther one goes the less human beings there will be. we saw a hand written sign for a beach and drove in. a beat up village-y looking cafe, a few people, mostly families barbequeing in the cafe area but not ON the beach (very crucial point here). we decided to check it out since we had not had something to eat for ages. all we had was our swim gear. the owner was sweet, made us vegetarian sandwiches, the ones where they cut a huge loaf of bread in half and fill it up with cheese and tomatoes and peppers. a fincan of tea and we were ready to swim. but we had only our swim gear. nooo money. we just had enough to pay for our sandwiches. when we asked for the bill i even managed to say "hesap az olsun paramiz yok" (make sure the bill is little because we don't have money). couldn't believe i said that!! the sweet owner gave us a discount on the entrance fee, buy one the second is free. with that we were left with small change in our pockets.

the beach was wonderful. the waves were high, the tide was strong, it almost pulled my bikini down. John explained the difference between United Kingdom and England by drawing a map in the sand, and the sun behind the clouds gave us a pinkish hue. the bathrooms were worse than india so it wasn't all that blissful. but we found the isolated beach afterall.