Cultural Adjustment, Living Abroad, Student Life Abroad, Traveling

Stranded on an Island

March 26, 2016

After my sister and I decided not to travel to Pamukkale for the day (since the airport is just way too far away and difficult to get to at 6am) I suggested that we spend a night on Buyukada. Buyukada is the biggest of a series of islands near Istanbul. We took a bus to a bus to a ferry and settled into the quaint little island with ease. The island had cute little horse drawn carriages and touristy souvenir shops. We were entranced. No cars. No big chain stores. A million cats.

Istanbul is notorious for its amazing assortment of stray cats but Buyukada took this to the next level. My sister and I rarely saw any women on the island so I started to assume that they had all been turned into cats. At any given time you could count at least five cats in view.

We woke up the next morning and hiked to the highest point on the island where there was the supposedly an old monastery. To be honest we found a lot of old looking things and we weren’t exactly sure which was the monastery. (*Update: apparently the monastery is on the other other side of the island. What we saw was an old wooden Greek orphanage*) Nevertheless the view was gorgeous.

After the hike we quickly packed up and prepared to take the ferry home. We sat in the building patiently until two men approached me and started speaking Turkish. He repeated in english, “No boats.” I asked him why. “Bad weather.” “Well when is the next boat.” “No boats.” “Tomorrow?” “Probably not.”

Thus we assumed our new life on the island. This was either the beginning of a Sarah Dessen novel or a horror movie. After we left the ferry building we realized that the touristy island we arrived on had changed. The shops were all closed. The piers were flooded. The streets were deserted. We went back to our hotel to book a room but they had doubled the price. We went knocking on doors until I found a good enough deal. We spent the night looking in vain for a bar or at least a restaurant and sitting on the stoop of the hotel observing the locals cruising around on their vespas.

The next morning I checked my email and found several alarmed messages asking if I was alive. The terrorist attack at the mosques were devastating. We were planning on visiting later that day. We finally boarded a ferry and left behind our mystical island with bittersweet feelings.

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