Duk(i)es on Prince Islands

Our weekends are always packed with exciting activities, and this past weekend was no exception.

I’m loving this whole no classes Friday business; it’ll be hard to let go of at Duke. We wandered İstiklal Avenue in the Beyoğlu district, and had lunch on French street. I found this awesome old bookstore. It had lots of old postcards nad photos, trinkets, records, and magazines, newspapers, and books in English, Italian, French, Turkish…it seemed very hole-in-the-wall. The owner had been there for 15 years with his brother, and the store didn’t even have a name! For reference, it’s 33-C Yeni Çarşi Caddesi – you’re welcome.

Afterwards, we studied at a cute café/restaurant called Dai Pera, which had a very Durham-y, American/European café feel, with soft crooning jazz and delicious and warming tea. We ate dinner at this fantastic place famous for its mezes (Rumeli Mayhanesi), and dessert at a chain whose menus were full of cake and ice cream. Sometimes I feel as if I’m writing a Yelp review about Istanbul, but it’s all so good!

Saturday, we went out to the Prince Islands right off of Istanbul. It was definitely one of the best things we’ve done in Istanbul. It’s touristy, but definitely not overwhelming. We visited two islands – the first one had an old Greek university that shut down a while back. The island doesn’t allow any vehicles except for service ones, so everyone gets around by walking, biking, or horse carriages.

The main island of the day was Büyükoda, the biggest island. The island had a very quaint feel but the main street was bustling as well. We rented bikes and rode up and down the hills, and visited the Greek Orphanage that was abandoned in the 1960’s. It’s the 2nd largest wooden structure in the world, and the perfect set for a horror movie. The main street of the island had a very small-town vibe so we sat down and got waffles and ice cream. Mmmm.

We didn’t get to see the other islands, but they all have so much history, and used to be places of Byzantine exile or Roman settlements.

Sunday was our day to go to the 13th İstanbul Bienali, which is one of the biggest art festivals in the world, held every two years. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it since the whole thing screamed modern art (the theme was, “Mom, am I Barbarian?” and explored gentrification and identity), but with a guidebook I could actually understand and appreciate the art.

Later, Charlotte, Rebecca, and I continued our art streak by going to see a short film festival in Şişli. We thought we had the wrong location when we entered a tiny little café-cum-kitchen, but it turned out to be in a little black box theater in the back. I really enjoyed several of the films, especially a Danish one about growing old and an American one about a tyrannical jazz director (that will be made into a feature film soon! Look for Whiplash in theatres)

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