Bozcaada

Calm and quiet for eight months of the year, with the coming of summer Bozcaada dons a sequined dress to become a demure and joyful beauty.

Having reached the Geyikli landing stage in the early morning, I am waiting for the car ferry to Bozcaada. I stretch out on one of the chaises longues on the shore and sip my tea and think about the big orange full moon that sank into the sea a few hours ago. And the sunrise that followed, turning everything ruby red…

When the time comes to board the ferry, that familiar thrill that goes with a trip to the island begins to invade my soul. During the approximately 45-minute crossing, the astonished cries and exclamations of those arriving here for the first time rise higher as we approach. For what they see is none other than a grey mass growing larger before their eyes. A few buildings along the shore, a fortress, and emptiness as far as the eye can see… The same words always pour from the mouths of first-comers to the island: “Is this Bozcaada?”

But the minute you set foot on land, you feel that life on Bozcaada also has a festive air about it. You can't put your finger on it at first. But at the end of a day spent here you realize that this joy actually stems from the beaches, the harbor, the little restaurants, from the souvenir shops and cafes, from the geraniums and bougainvillea that adorn the doors and windows of the houses, and from the vineyards and the grapes.

ELEVEN COVES, TWELVE PROMONTORIES
Bozcaada is Turkey's only township without a village. Just 42 square kilometers in all, it has twelve promontories and eleven coves along its 14-mile periphery. Among the coves, only Ayazma Plage has facilities where you can spend the day and enjoy the excellent Bozcaada cuisine. As long as you're here, either in the morning or at lunch you must certainly sample the local 'gözleme', a kind of savory pancake stuffed with eggplant and fennel.

Depending on the winds that blow around the island, you can also pick yourself a deserted cove: Ayazma, Sulubahçe and Habbeli will await you in the north wind; Tuzburnu, Çayır and Ova in the south wind. The beaches can be reached by minibus from the center.

SENDING THE SUN ON ITS WAY
The Köprülü Mehmet Paşa and Alaybey Mosques among the Ottoman period monuments and a church left from the Venetian period may be your visiting points on the island. The citadel, set on a rocky cliff on the island's north side, will capture your attention even as you are approaching the island by ferry. Either in the early morning hours or at dusk you should certainly tour the fortress, which bears traces of the Venetian, Genoese, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Do whatever you want during the day, but be down by the Polente Lighthouse at the western tip of the island at sunset. As you're seeing the sun off, the rhythmic sound produced by the 17 wind roses at the Wind Energy Plant immediately behind you will captivate your thoughts and  transport you far away. In a subtle nod to their feminine elegance, these enormous but delicate-looking wind roses, which meet the power needs not just of Bozcaada but of the Çanakkale side as well, have been named for women: Zeynep, Arzu, Elisabeth, Rita…

If you're lucky while at Polente Lighthouse, you'll catch the full moon rising in the east as the sun is setting in the west, and you'll promise yourself over and over that you'll come back here again.

THE TASTES OF BOZCAADA
Whatever you may feel like eating on the island at evening, you will find a taste to satisfy your appetite.  Whether it's a fish feast at one of the restaurants around the harbor, or the island fare served in one of the small but fashionable establishments in the back streets. And later there is heavenly-smelling coffee and dessert at the outdoor cafes, or music and dancing down at Salhane.

Whatever time you go to bed, get up early while you're on Bozcaada and lose yourself in the island's streets. Rent a bicycle and tour the environs, and enjoy a breakfast feast at one of the outdoor cafes under the giant plane trees. Or put together your own menu of bread fresh from the bakery and some of the local jams.
Don't neglect the back streets. You will feel the heart of the island beating here, where boutique hotels, galleries, shops and lovely houses dripping with flowers will create unforgettable memories inside you.

If you come to Bozcaada in July and August especially, I recommend that you leave your car at the Geyikli landing stage and use the minibuses for getting around the island. That way you won't have to worry about the times of the car ferry either.

GRAPE HARVEST TIME
As you leave the island center and head inland, be sure to pass either alongside or, better yet, through one of the vineyards. They begin to announce their presence from afar in the form of grape pickers, baskets laden with grapes and the little houses unique to the vineyards. Extending for kilometers in stark contrast with the island's arid grey landscape, the vineyards end at the sea. Bozcaada is perhaps the best place for experiencing the grape harvest. As the sun-ripened grapes are gathered in cluster by cluster, the grape's journey to wine has already commenced. Çavuşüzümü, Vasiliki, Karalahana, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Kalecik Karası are the island's most famous varieties.

Known as Tenedos in antiquity, Bozcaada made the acquaintance of the grape and wine with the cultivation and development of a wild vine discovered by an islander named Tenes. So fertile were the vineyards that their grapes were exported off the island, as is evidenced by the presence of bunches of grapes even on the coins of ancient Tenedos. The natives, who claim that viniculture is as old as the island's history, will tell you the story.

The job of gathering in the grapes, which begins in the cool of early morning, is interrupted for lunch in the shade of a tractor. Then it begins again. The grape picking goes on for days. When the vintage is over and all the grapes are gathered in, the pickers start celebrating in the vineyards. The picking of the first grape is celebrated in a grape festival. As in a bridal procession, the island girls perch atop the first tractor to carry the grapes, demanding the traditional tips as they pass. Well on their journey, the grapes will one day find their way to your table as a delicious Bozcaada wine.

Although it seems you would have at most three or four months in which to enjoy all the island's beauty, the quiet at other times of the year will offer you a different Bozcaada experience. As you board the ferryboat and leave the island, your heart will beat with excitement, the rhythmic sound of the wind roses will resound in your ears, and your mind will be at rest and full of sweet memories to last you for a long time to come.