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Published: October 7th 2008
Going from perfect weather in Kabak to cold and rainy Istanbul was not enjoyable! It felt like I had been transported back to winter in Melbourne or London. But it was great to meet up with Pippa an we spent 24 hours in Istanbul taking in some of the sights and catching up over yummy meals, and then headed to Gallipoli
to visit the battlefields at ANZAC cove.
As we only had 1 week in Turkey together, we sought out a place we could go to relax and give us the opportunity to catch some sunshine, but wasn't going to be too far to travel to. Located on the Aegean Coast, Bozcaada Island
(pronounced Boz-jaada) sounded like the perfect place to unwind, with beautiful beaches, good food and wine.
We arrived at the bus station in Canakkale
to find a bus heading to a town where we needed to catch the ferry across to the island. The only problem was that the last ferry for the day was leaving at 7pm, it was already 6pm and the bus drivers were trying to explain to us that it took 1.5 hours to get to
the ferry pier. I attempted to figure out a way we could make the bus driver put the pedal to the metal and get us there in time so we could catch the last ferry, but our hopes were shattered with a big shake of the head from the bus driver. Having to stay in Canakkale for the night was not going to be such a bad thing, but we really wanted to get to Bozcaada as soon as we could to maximise our time. It was then that a lovely Turkish woman appeared and explained in fluent English that her and her husband were in the same situation.
Our hopes were restored as we (well Chigdam) managed to bargain with a taxi driver to take us for a reasonable fare but we had to jump straight into the taxi if we were going to make it to the ferry in time, which wouldn't have been an issue had I not needed to go to the toilet. It didn't seem like anyone else was going to let me go though, so the trip to the ferry pier felt like a very long journey! But we made it to the
cobbled streets lines with cute bars and cafes
ferry with just less than 10 minutes to spare.
As we caught the ferry to Bozcaada, the sun was setting behind the island, making it a lovely arrival to the island. During the ride over, we talked to Chigdam (her husband couldn't speak much English), and she offered to help us arrange to stay at a friends pansiyon
. When we stepped of the ferry, we instantly fell in love with Bozcaada. The old fortress was lit up, the cute cobbled streets and the smell of seafood wafting through the town delighted us. It is also the end of the high season now, so there aren't many people around, making it feel even more relaxed.
I hadn't been given the opportunity to eat a lot of seafood in Turkey as yet, it's been mostly really healthy organic vegetarian food or the complete opposite - greasy, juicy, meaty kebabs...So I relished the chance to taste some seafood with the cold mezzes we ordered at dinner. The calamari was finger licking good!
As Bozcaada is only about 5km wide and 6km in length, we initially contemplated renting bicycles to explore the island, but knew ourselves better than that.
After all we were here to relax! Although having said that Pippa is training for a half marathon at the moment and me, well I'm not quite at that stage yet but I have definitely been inspired. So we ended up renting a scooter to cruise around on. We had to produce a drivers license, which luckily Pippa had with her. The UK license didn't specify whether she could drive bikes up to 125cc. For a minute we thought the guy wasn't going to let us rent the bike until he said "If the police stops you, they can't read English or really speak English, so just say yes when they ask you if you're allowed to drive motorbikes". haha! Of course, we weren't going to argue with that.
So sporting flame patterned helmets and all we jumped on our little scooter and headed towards the south side of the island, where the nicest beaches are. Passing vineyards, farms and old houses, we took in the scenery. This was the point when we first discovered how windy Bozcaada really is. And with the weather becoming a little cooler as each day passes it was quite chilly. But the sun
was out and after checking out most of the beaches along the south side of the island, we finally found a perfect spot. The Aegean sea was lovely to swim in but coming out of the water was freezing and we were covered in goosebumps, a stark contrast to the heat I'd been feeling during my time here.
As we were about to leave the beach, we saw two guys drive onto the beach in a 4wd to take pictures. The guy who was driving decided to be an idiot and drive all the way through the sand until he got stuck. He then proceeded to try and go forward when all that was happening was that he was digging himself further into the sand! Pippa and I were both pretty hungry and thirsty so it was tempting to just walk past them and not help, but our conscience prevailed.
Only one of the guys could speak broken English and as we tried to help them get their car out, he tried to talk to us but we just wanted to hurry up and get out of there! It got to the point where they were so far
in though, that I kept suggesting that they just call someone (as it was a rental car anyway) to help them get the car out. Half an hour later, we decided that we had tried helping them enough - even to the point where Pippa almost hurt her back and was covered in grease!
We wished them luck and jumped back on our scooter and headed back to the town. In the afternoon, we visited Chigdam and her husband at her house and like a gorgeous grandma does, she made us tea and sweets to have on her cute porch. They live in Ankara during Winter and come to this house and live here in the Summer, which makes a perfect life!
The windmill farm was definitely a must see for Pippa and I, so we headed back there and it happened to be a perfect place to watch the sunset. The two dozen or so towering windmills run along the narrow, winding road all the way to the coast. They make such a soothing sound and when you see them up close they are really extraordinary. The bluish clouds and streaks across the sky made it another
Now with any luck we probably wouldn't have seen them again, but that evening, as we were having a drink the boys appeared and wanted to sit down and join us. They had called someone to help them in the end, and all that was needed was a change in the 4wd gears!
The guy who could speak a little bit of English tried to talk to us again, but it was really hard work trying to converse with him, so we came up with a story about meeting Chigdam and having dinner with her. The guys wanted to meet us the following day so we tried to brush them off by saying we'd see them down at the beach or something. We should have known better given this island is so small and there weren't many people around! Not only did we see them again that evening (as we had to walk past them to find a restaurant that Chigdam had recommended us) but somehow they ended up walking into the same restaurant we had lunch at the next day. This time however they didn't try and sit on our table and we figured they
had got the hint.
We couldn't believe that in offering them a hand, we ended up spending our time trying to avoid them and making up excuses not to hang out with them! That wasn't the end of it though. That afternoon, our scooter blew over as a result of the strong winds and cracked one of the side mirrors. When we went to return the scooter, the guy wasn't there so we had to call him. I had to try and find a place to buy credit for my phone but wasn't having much luck, and again, out of nowhere one of the guys appeared again!!! He asked me what I was trying to do and I told him, and so he offered me his phone to use - but that meant having to bring him back to where Pippa was because I didn't have the phone number with me. They stuck around while we returned our bike, and then asked us if we wanted to go for a coffee. We said that we had to pack our bags and check out as we were leaving on the ferry. Who would guess that they decided that they were
leaving on the same ferry as us and going back to Istanbul as well!!! It was fair enough though, as the weather had turned and it was getting to be uncomfortable particularly as I didn't bring much warm clothing on this trip as I wasn't supposed to need it! If the sun had stayed at we definitely would have stayed and skipped our last day in Istanbul because we were so relaxed and really enjoying the island.
We thought the museum would be a good place to hide out for a couple of hours until we had to get on the ferry, and it was definitely a pleasant surprise. There is over 5000 years of history on this island, and they had some cool ancient maps and photos to look at. Even the curator tried his best to explain all the objects in English. We also decided to do a bit of wine tasting and sat down in a cute little cafe for a hot drink (but not before checking they weren't in there) as it was blisteringly cold outside.
There was no way of avoiding them on the ferry back to the mainland, and out of the
few minibuses that were running back to Canakkale, of course we ended up on the same one! We asked them what bus they were on back to Istanbul to ensure that we didn't buy tickets for the same bus. The boys ended up getting off before Canakkale and had said they were getting the bus back to Istanbul from there, so at least we knew we had a few hours in Canakkale with no chance of seeing them.
Whilst they weren't on the same bus as us, we bumped into them yet again at the place where the bus stopped for a break (there were 3 buses from the same company at the same time going to Istanbul). Once we arrived there we had to catch the same bus as them into the city, but were finally able to say our goodbyes there.
Speaking of buses, I must say that since my first mediocre experience of the bus system in Turkey, my trips have been getting better and I'm now very impressed with it all. Sounds like a bit of a random thing, but seriously, the buses here are awesome! Firstly, the seats are quite comfortable and have
plenty of leg room, they serve you drinks (tea, coffee, soft drinks and juice), snacks (sometimes you get chocolate cake), and they are so efficient that once you've finished and have a pile of rubbish sitting on your tray table, they clean it up within a blink! Not to mention, they spray decent smelling air freshener to reduce the disgusting wafts of BO, mixed with kebab, that permeate through peoples' pores. I've also come to like and appreciate their obsession for lemon cologne, which they use endlessly on their hands and face. And most importantly, the buses stop frequently enough that you can drink as much liquid as you like because you don't have to worry about not being able to go to the toilet!
I can't believe that my time in Turkey has almost come to an end, but we still have a couple of days left in Istanbul to get my last doses of all things Turkish.
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