Princes Island Ferry

Today we find ourselves jumping on the tram in Sultanahmet and heading down to the ports to grab a ferry out to the Princes Island. By now we are used to the tram system - buy your token and ride. The port is at the end of the line which makes things even simpler.

Getting off at the port we are confronted by a wall of people - apparently everyone else has the same idea... After all it is the weekend.

We fall into the current of people an get towed along to where the ferries depart. Lining up to buy our ferry token, the line moves quickly - apparently the locals all know what they are doing and can easily read the instructions (which are all in Turkish). We arrive at the front of the queue - its our moment in the spotlight. No stress, there are only a dozen or so people queueing behind you.

Confronted by the simplicity of the ferry token machine I find myself frozen.. There are only 2 buttons.. Which do I press? And what the hell will I get for the 20TL I just inserted? Reading the display on the machine it appears I will get 1x of something, and 2x of something else, totalling 6TL. Now I know the token cost 4TL, so my powers of deduction lead me to believe I will get one of them based on the prices shown.

Pressing one of the buttons an hoping, I watch as the numbers confusingly tick up. 2x what I believe to be the ferry tokens, and 4x something else (lucky they are only 1TL each...).

A quick glance at Laura and we decide to lock it in - pressing the other button and hoping our money has been well spent.

Suddenly it's like wining the jackpot at the pokies - as the remainder of my 20TL is returned to me in 1TL coins. Thankfully mixed into the drop is also 2 tokens for the ferry - and not soon enough from the looks of those patiently waiting behind the dumb tourists.

Tokens in hand, and now weighed down by a fist full of change we make out way to the boarding gates and onto the ferry. Inside we find ourselves a nice comfy seat next to a window and settle in for the trip - which we have no idea how long it will take.

Cruising out into the Bosphorus, we decide to pass the time with a glass of Turkish tea or cia (pronounced chia) which the locals seem to have formed more than a mild addiction to.

Several stops and a bit over an hour later we start approaching Princes Island.

Off the ferry and onto the island, we find a local horse drawn cart and decide to take the island tour - we're gluttons for tourist traps. While it was a nice ride around the island, and definitely allowed us to see much more in the afternoon we had on the island than we could have by foot, I'm still to be convinced it was worth the 60TL we paid.

After seeing the sights by horse drawn cart, we decided to head to the water front to grab a bite to eat. Unfortunately the little voice inside our heads didn't scream out to us "Tourist Trap Ahead!". It was as plain as the nose on your face. Nicely set out tables right on the water front. Anyway we sat, we ate, and we enjoyed. Then the bill arrived - needless to say this was by far our most expensive meal in Turkey yet (by a factor of two). Almost 100TL later we grabbed our bottle of water, paid and departed. Don't get me wrong - the meal was good... Just not 100TL good.

So after a pleasant afternoon on Princes Island we grab another ferry back to Istanbul. The ferry trip is an experience in itself - almost a floating Grand Bazaar. There are people trying to sell everything to you. One guy in particular has mastered the art and commands the audience well - and converts his performance into multiple sales.

His sales performance is comedic and grand. He wouldn't be out of place as the ring leader of a circus. First item is a retractable walking stick. He pulls it from his bag and extends it, and waits... "ooohh" he crys and the audience follow. Next he walks around using the stick demonstrating just how good it is. But wait.. It also has suspension built in. "ooohh" the crowd cry. But wait it also has a compas built in. "oooohhh" the crowd cry with applause. Also it has a small torch which he turns on and off to demonstrate. "ooooohhhh" the crowd cry again with further dramatic applause. Finally he collapses the walking stick back - so simple, so easy. "oooohhh" the crowd cry. And for the finale... Now with the walking stick fully collapsed, he swings it over his shoulder and scratches his back. The crowd erupt with laughter and cheers. "How much you pay?"... "10TL.. This is all."

Moments later he is flooded by people waving their 10TL notes at him. He has easily made his days pay with this crowd.

But that's not all - out comes the orange juicer. The crowd are again In the palm of his hand, and the show continues... And the money flows in.

Notably there are others on the ferry also trying to sell their wears - but none in as dramatic and comedic fashion. This guy is a genuine performer. It's almost worth 10TL just for the show and the laughs - it also helps to pass the time on the ferry, and before we know it we're arriving back into Istanbul.