Islands, Orphanages, and Chestnut Ice Cream (The Game-Changer)

This past weekend, the program went on an excursion to the Prince’s Islands. These islands are located off of the coast of the city of Istanbul, about a one-hour ferry ride away.

There are no cars allowed on the islands, so transportation is by foot, bike, and horse. It’s strange to see relatively modern homes and buildings juxtaposed against a train of horse-drawn carriages. On Büyükada, the largest of the islands and the second one that we visited, there is actually a horse cemetery for all of these transportation horses. Apparently, most of them are in their retirement— they’re old horses sent to the island to pull carriages around until they die. (Hmmm… that sentence sounded really grim but I don’t really know how else to phrase it. Definitely not my ideal “ retirement”).

Anyway, we rented bikes on Büyükada and went on a short ride around the island. About halfway we stopped to see an abandoned orphanage.


The orphanage is the largest all-wooden building in Europe and second largest in the world. I almost made a comment about what a great Haunted House it would make during Halloween before catching myself, since, you know, Halloween isn’t a thing here in Turkey.

Next, we rode our bikes back to the town center. We had a half-hour to kill before getting on the next ferry, and there were approximately 7 ice cream stores within a 50-yard distance. So naturally I decided to spend the time eating ice cream. Ice cream here is sort of like thicker, slightly gummier gelato. It’s incredibly good. And here’s what I discovered: Chestnut Ice Cream. It’s phenomenal— sweet, creamy, and rich, like ice cream should be, but a little bit bitter and even tasteless, like a chestnut (or a walnut, if you’re unfamiliar with chestnuts). It sounds like a weird combination, perhaps, but it is, as my title indicates, a Game Changer.

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