Burgazada: Island Paradise in Istanbul

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The enormous cityscape of Istanbul peeking through the fog

Fun Fact:  Thursday was a national holiday here in Turkey, albeit one I didn’t fully understand.  It has something to do with kids playing sports…but the important thing was the fact that we got the day off.  Yay!

Fun Fact #2:  Istanbul has islands!  It seems hard to believe when you’re in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Taksim Square or Sultanahmet, but there are several islands off the coast of Istanbul that are reachable by ferry several times each day.  The islands are locally known as  Adalar (which simply means “islands” in Turkish), and they make for a perfect little escape from the big city, especially on a nice day.

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Shenanigans on the ferry

Our original plan for Thursday was to catch up on some grading and maybe play a few rounds of League of Legends, but when our friends invited us to go to Burgazada – the third largest of the islands- with them, we thought that sounded like a much better plan.

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One super exciting part of the trip for me was seeing all the jellyfish!  It was the first time I’d ever seen them in their natural habitat (you know, since I grew up landlocked…), and though they are largely considered a nuisance because they make swimming on the island difficult, I was totally mesmerized by them.

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The ultimate reading nook

The tiny island was a lot more beautiful than I would have expected for being so close to such a sprawling city.  There were tons of beautiful, Ottoman style holiday homes stacked along the cliffs, most of which also had perfectly landscaped gardens.  We spent most of our time walking along the coast, trying to dodge the speeding carriages being pulled by malnourished horses (unfortunately, most of the horses on the island did not look well taken care of).

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The absolute highlight for all of us was this rocky beach, which was full of nice hiking and climbing spots over the water.  The sun was shining, the breeze was perfect, and the views from the top were spectacular.

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I love this candid picture my husband got of us all looking out the water, stacked at different heights.

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I also love this shot my friend took of me from the rock above.  Beautiful water!

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Nothing like a cliff and a day off to make you feel on top of the world.

After soaking up the sun for awhile, we decided to head back to the main part of the island to get some food.  We passed some horses on the way back, which my friends could not resist feeding some discarded sugar cubes they found on the ground nearby (probably from old cups of çay).

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It was all fun and games until they ran out of sugar.

We stopped for a quick bite to eat at a seafood restaurant, where we got ripped off (yabancı probs), but we didn’t even mind because it had been such a beautiful, relaxing day.  After exploring a few more nooks and crannies on the island, we grabbed the evening ferry back into Istanbul to prepare for a night of pizza, cookies, and general merriment.

I can’t wait to check out the rest of the Adalar!

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Heading back to the city

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