Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Day at Princes' Islands

July 4 Merhaba! Well, today was an "off" day after many days of academic lectures at Sabanci University. We learned a great deal about Turkish Literature, the Ottoman Empire, the role of women in their families, in government, in schools, etc..., All of us have newfound empathy for our students who are often required to sit in uncomfortable chairs for 7 hours each day while in school...
Today, most of us traveled to Princes' Island. This was accomplished via a cab ride of about an hour and a ferry ride of about 45 minutes. Some folks grouped off and hiked up to the monestary at the top of the island. Others took an additional boat ride to one of the more elegant resort beaches on the island. A couple of us decided to just head out on our own, map in hand, and hope for the best. We ended up hiking around the perimeter of the entire island. I will try to find that distance, but suffice to say it took many hours and is probably many miles. We were on a mission to find one of the beaches, but these beaches aren't sand covered, like the ones that are most familiar to us in America. Instead, they are little alcoves off the foot trail, where you pay several dollars to walk into the party there. We only found a few of those, but they didn't satisfy our desire for a peaceful beach... So, no beach, but a lot of good, hot, sweaty walking. We have become accustomed to being sweaty human rags, with the most difficult time bing from 3-5 in the afternoon.
As usual, there is music in the streets. At one restaurant, there was a drummer and an autoharp player. Amazing , full sound!
And so, dear friends, our feet are sore and I have a tad bit of sunburn on my back, but our spirits are still soaring! This was a most lovely day... A well-earned mini-vacation in the midst of a lot a scholarly work...
As we journeyed around the island, we found a little kebab place, with a grill built into a brick wall outside. That grill is pictured above. In some ways, this island is a bit like Mackinaw Island in Michigan, as there are an unbelievable number of horses on the island. Donkeys, too, permeate the scene in the middle of the island, and we had fun listen to them talk rather loudly. This island far surpasses Mackinaw Island, just in case you wanted to know...


  1. Have you heard any mention of Armenians? In the history, in the churches, in the food discussions, in the music, as relatives of people there? Either you're not mentioning it on purpose or Armenian culture and traditions (which have some history in that general area) are very repressed.

  2. Dear Aram,
    We've had a lot of discussion about the Armenians and we also met with the patriarche of the Armenian Church our very first day here. The genocide is a very volatile issue here, for many reasons. I will talk with you much more extensively about what I've learned when I return. There is a code in the Constitution here that forbids anyone to say anything that is negative to the Turkish character. Pamuk, the Nobel prize winner, went down big time in an interview when he spoke truth to power. More later...
    So happy you are following the blog. This is an amazing adventure! namaste, marianne