Postcard from... Istanbul

 

The voyage from Istanbul to the Princes Islands in the Sea of Marmara might be the best value cruise in the world.

The yellow funnel steamboat from Kabatas pier resembles a miniature ocean liner. For the 90-minute voyage, you pay five Turkish lire – about £1.25.

You see, inter alia, the start of the Bosphorus; and the hospital where Florence Nightingale worked. Roaming traders offer tea, coffee, delicious bread rolls, a shoe-shine, rugs and scarves .

The Princes Islands, 10 miles south of central Istanbul are littered with Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries.

The largest island, Buyuk Ada, is a gentle tourist hell. There are no cars in the main village, only bicycles and two-horse buggies. There are winding streets of wooden houses. There are hundreds of dogs and cats, independent rather than feral, which stroll around with the tourists.

The boat back to central Istanbul over a choppy sea carried dozens of children home to other islands after school. It made a surreal call at Heybeli Ada, the second largest island. A grandiose, white bedroom suite was carried aboard in 20 pieces in the midst of an unruly embarking mob of Turks and tourists.

A bride and groom in full rig sprinted off the ship in the other direction. She was still carrying her flowers.

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