After days with dark clouds and a weekend covid-curfew, we finally saw the sun. No questions were asked. We filled our backpack with cheese, bread, tomatoes, olives, cake, chocolate, and vine, left the house, and headed out in the nature of Büyükada, the largest of the Princess Island near Istanbul. The landscape of the island has with its serene and spiritual atmosphere for centuries been a source of inspiration to many artists, writers, and thinkers as well as to its local community – associated with phaeton sightseeing, sea bathing ceremonies, moonlight pleasure trips, picnics, musical performances, and sailing competitions.
A huge part of the Island is covered by old pine and three forests crossed with either small paved roads or narrow paths that give one a feeling of solitude and adventure when leaving the island’s busy tourist areas and many mansions behind. Soon you are engulfed between pine trees, ruins, old farmhouses, and groves.
Some of the first creatures we met on our way were a herd of cows grassing under the trees. They seemed as curious as us and did not mind strangers without masks coming near them, so they did not hesitate to eat grass from our hands. Further up the hill, there was a small rustic farmhouse with chickens, geese, and goats, probably the cow’s home mates. We continued on the narrow dusty path and came to a cluster of ruined walls and houses in a clearing. On an old granite staircase that ended in an empty well, we decided to have our lunch in the sun. The smell of food soon lured a white-orange cat to join our company. It was however not interested in our food but in the way we cut the bread and the rattling of the paper bread bag. After the cat had smelled everything we had to offer, and rejected it all, it lay down in the autumn sun near our feet on the stairs. Once in a while it raised its body contentedly and mesmerized us with its well-satisfied purrs. Drowsy of the food, vine, and sun we settled down in the land of pure coziness – tumbling around in the grass as soft as feathers, exchanging sweet kisses and kind caressed hands.
Photos: Sila Yalazan
Text: Steen Andersen