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Loco for Lokum: on assignment inTurkey The lowdown on winning the 2011 World Nomads/Rough Guides Scholarship...

A Real City Break - Cycling the Prince’s Islands.

TURKEY | Sunday, 26 June 2011 | Views [2434] | Comments [2]

A mere hour by sea-bus from the city swell lie the Prince’s Islands, a collection of nine small islands offering welcome relief from the city chaos. We spent our second day on the largest island, Büyükada, aboard rented bicycles, cruising up and down the Marmara coastline and scrambling up and down steps to hunt out beach resorts.

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A blur of phaeton (brightly painted horse-drawn carriages), vendors wielding flowered headbands and burger-flipping cafes make up the main drag around the harbor – like much of Europe’s coastline the resort teeters between charmingly quaint and unashamedly touristic. Thankfully though, there’s a little more to than shoulder-to-shoulder sun loungers and ice cream booths (although both are indeed plentiful). Büyükada today may be more of a playground for rich city dwellers to weekend but the island has a vastly more interesting history, having played host to a number of exiled Byzantine empresses (including my namesake, the Empress Zoë), as well as Leon Trotsky, who wrote his History of the Russian Revolution from his Büyükadan mansion. 

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For those, like myself, less interested in sun lounging, the west coast of the islands makes a beautiful bike route atop the forested cliffs with breathtaking views of the Marmara sea and thanks to the islands motor-free policy, visitors can enjoy the freedom of cycling or hiking with few interruptions (although the possibility of being mowed down by a reckless phaeton remains ever present).

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We spent the day visiting hotels and restaurants, scouting out numerous beach resorts and pedaling furiously to catch the ferry back to the city. I had a chance to test out my own skills at question asking and note taking, as well as giving my legs a workout on the numerable hills. With beautiful views, great weather and a plethora of information sourced for the guidebook, today was a pretty successful day. Tiring as it may be, I could get used to this job.

Cycling the Marmara Coastline

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 The view from the ferry home

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Phaetons line up along the streets

Tags: beaches, cycling, istanbul, princes islands, travel writing, travel writing scholarship, trekking, turkey

Comments

1

I spent a day last week on a rickety Büyükada rental bike, and my legs were very angry with me! Those hills are killer if you aren't in shape!

  Jamie Lee Sep 7, 2011 5:21 AM

2

Very true! I felt the burn the next day!

  Zoe Smith Sep 7, 2011 4:43 PM

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